Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Babywearing

When I saw my Bradley Method instructor carrying her child in a blue ring sling, I thought to myself, "Huh, that's an interesting way to carry a child...." Over the next 12 weeks, as I learned about the art of birthing, I watched them.

I watched as she secured her daughter in the beautiful fabric, thinking that it was very nice to have your child close to you. I watched as the little girl cuddled against her mother, and fell asleep. I watched as she astutely observed her mother teaching and gazed questioningly at the world around her. I watched as they naturally looked into each other's eyes often without missing a beat in the conversation around them. I saw how she would adjust the tension on the sling to allow the child to lay down or sit up. I watched as she nursed her child with only a slight movement to get her latched on. I remember thinking that it seemed so natural, it seemed to me that THIS was a perfect way to nurture a child. But I never asked her about it. I didn't know what it was called, so I had enormous trouble trying to look it up on my own, and finally gave up on it.

I started going to my local La Leche League just a couple of months before my son was born because I wanted to build a good support network for breastfeeding. Several of the women there had their children in slings, wraps, mei tais, becos, and ergos.... I never even imagined that so many ways to carry a child existed! Finally my curiosity got the best of me and I waddled up to the nearest momma and asked about this amazing invention. She told me about a group of mommas who got together to support each other in babywearing and to learn more about the subject. She gave me a phone number to the amazing lady who ran the Nine In Nine Out meetings from her home.

(The NINO organization was an organization dedicated to the art of babywearing and introducing new moms to it. The official organization has since disbanded but our local leader is still an amazing resource for babywearing)

I went to the next meeting and was finally introduced to the concept, the miracle, the wonder that is babywearing and the women who have kept this ancient tradition alive in Kitsap County. I tried on several different types of carriers and decided that I liked the SPOC wrap best. I purchased a length of material suitable for babywearing at the local fabric store and a wonderful momma from the NINO group sewed the edges up for me. I showed the invention to my family who all urged me to stop with the "natural kick" I was on and to just get a stroller and be normal. My mother even told me that only people in third world countries carried their children in such a manner. I was disappointed that they were not as excited as I was, but I was undeterred in my resolve to carry my child close to me.

My son has been carried in this manner since he was about 5 days old. I have convinced my mother and many of my family members that babywearing is a fine thing. Many people I have run into think it is really neat to be able to freely go wherever I want to go with my child. They think it is fantastic how I can do two-handed tasks without having to find a place for my child. They think it is wonderful that I can nurse my child discreetly.

All of these things are wonderful perks to babywearing, but I find that the reasons I carry my child this way have nothing to do with these things. I love how happy and content my son is, how engaged he is in the world around him. I love that I have helped to create a bond with my child that will last throughout his life. I love that when he needs comfort or closeness that he comes to me or to his father to be held rather than to a stuffed toy or a blanket. Babywearing is an ancient practice that can be found in every culture, in every part of the world. Different cultures use different methods to secure their children to them, but the concept is the same. They all know that carrying your child with you has benefits that can't be measured.

Here are a couple of websites that offer information on the benefits and history of babywearing, you can also browse around these sites to find information on how to start babywearing: how to use different carriers, how to choose a carrier that works for you, where to buy or how to make different carriers..... and much much more.

TheBabyWearer.com
WearYourBaby.com

5 comments:

Amber Miller said...

I could never find anything that worked when the girls were babies. I really wanted to do this with Edward, but I still couldn't find anything that was comfortable. I have back issues, so it's hard. Do you any styles that are supposed to be better for back problems?

choice_spirit said...

I know what you mean!

In my humble experience, ring slings tend to pull me to one side causing back pain.

I really like the mei tei for it's ease of use and because it eliminates back pain, but I cannot tuck my son's head in when he falls asleep and he tends to fall to one side, I also have a lot of trouble nursing in a mei tei. My other problem with them is that they don't make me feel pretty because they don't cover all my extra love handles....

Becos and Ergos look much the same to me as a mei tei, plus they are not suitable for women of larger size like me, because the straps don't go all the way around my waist. I also prefer unstructured carriers without all the straps and buckles.

My husband has SEVERE back troubles, and the ONLY thing he could use was a wrap. The SPOC wrap (simple piece of cloth) is an amazing tool! It covers me adequately so that I don't feel like my love handles are hanging out for the world to see, I can tuck my son's head inside if he is feeling overstimulated, if it is raining, if he's nursing, if he's sleeping, you get the idea.... You can carry your child in a variety of positions, more than any other carrier. I could go on and on about the wrap!

The carry we find that works for Shawn and his back problems is a two-shoulder carry called the "Front Wrap Cross Carry" (you can find instructions on how to do this online). It is very easy to do and distributes your child's weight evenly across your hips, back, and shoulders. I have put a child who was 45 pounds into this position and it felt like he weighed nothing! I know people who carry their older children (the oldest I saw was five years old!) in the wrap comfortably. The weight limit is only determined by your comfort and the quality of the fabric you use, but once you use this carry you will quickly see that weight is not a factor because of how evenly the weight is distributed across your body.

I have heard that you can use two ring slings in much the same manner, but I have not had luck with it because the rings tend to dig into my shoulders.... I am probably not doing it right.

Let me know if you would like to learn more about the wrap.

The Miller's said...

Well now I'm excited, I want to try this. What kind of fabric works best, how do you know what dimensions to make the fabric in relation to my size? I tried finding this info online, but for some reason can't find any. Can you email your response? konkymillers@msn.com

Thanks!

The Miller's said...

I found a site. I got some fabric and tried the carry you recommended and it works great! Thanks! I'm so excited.

choice_spirit said...

I am glad you found the information... And I am glad that it is working for you!

I posted some really great babywearing links in the original post if you have anymore questions.