Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Mothers in LLLGB
Photo: Tania Rook
Breastfeeding Today asked a few mothers in West Yorkshire, UK, how they came to be wearing their babies and what was so good about doing this. Baby wearing consultant Teresa demonstrates how to wrap your baby.
It was at one of the first La Leche League meetings I attended that I got into baby wearing. Slings came up in discussion, and when I mentioned that I had been given a Baby Bjorn carrier as a present, one mother gently suggested I might like to try something different. By the time of the next meeting, I had my own sling and I was using it far more than my very expensive travel system.
Wearing my baby benefits my family and me every day of the week. It allows me to keep up with my two older boys when out and about. We were up on the moors in the Yorkshire Dales at the weekend, definitely not buggy-friendly terrain.
We are not housebound when Jake needs to sleep. He drops off quickly when I wear him in a sling. For our younger boys, there was no need for an expensive stroller. I don’t have the hassle of navigating with one of these cumbersome contraptions while shopping. All I throw in the trunk these days is a sling and my groceries—no juggling everything to make enough space.
I don’t tend to breastfeed in a sling, mainly because I believe that breastfeeding is Mother Nature’s way of slowing me down to stop to feed my babies. It does, however, mean that I pick up on hunger cues very quickly, so Jake rarely gets further than fist-sucking before he’s getting fed.
Baby wearing simply works for us. And it’s been so important to me that now I’m a qualified sling consultant running a busy sling library! I’m incredibly passionate about it and really love enabling parents to wear their babies. See my video demo below on how to wrap your baby.
I looked into baby wearing when I was pregnant, as I had seen other mums and dads carrying their babies in Moby wraps. I did lots of research and decided to get a purple stretchy wrap and used it pretty much from birth with my daughter. To learn how to use the wrap, I looked at lots of YouTube videos and practiced with teddies before my daughter arrived. I did the same when I went on to using woven wraps and found them a really helpful addition. I have also joined groups on Facebook, where I can ask advice about wraps and carriers. I use these groups when I buy and sell my wraps as well.
Carrying my daughter using our slings has been great as she strongly disliked the buggy and wouldn’t go in it without getting upset. In the early days it was a way to have a break from the constant breastfeeding as she rested happily, while the rhythm of my walking lulled her to sleep. It helped enable a lot of skin-to-skin closeness. Now that my daughter is 17 months, wrapping is still a great way to settle her.
I can breastfeed in the sling quite easily now, both at home and out and about.
I think baby wearing is lovely and urge parents with young ones to try it. It helps to create a lovely bond between the carrier and the carried, prevents a baby crying, and you can get on with doing things while your baby comes right along with you.
I came to wear my baby out of necessity. My now six-year-old didn’t like being put down and wanted to be in physical contact with me the entire time. I learned the knack through practice and it all clicked into place after a visit to the local sling library. Second time round, with my now almost two-year-old, I already had the baby wearing bug and knew about the “fourth trimester” [Pregnancy is made up of three trimesters and human babies are so immature at birth, in comparison with many other mammals, that it seems to take them another three months to transition to life outside the womb. See gentleparenting.co.uk] For her first few months, we wore her for all naps and most of the time. In fact, we didn’t put her down except at night and even then we co-slept.
No idea how I would have coped without baby wearing for practical reasons. And I just love to sniff my babies’ heads and pat their bottoms while carrying them. Now I carry my toddler on my back on the school run through the woods.
Baby wearing definitely helped my husband to bond with our daughter (and our son, though he was not carried by my husband until he was a toddler). My husband got into baby wearing earlier the second time around and even learned how to wrap.
I like to spread the baby wearing love and lend out my wraps. I gifted a couple of carriers to my midwives to lend out to future new mothers. I own a very special baby-wearing top that I have lent to a few friends to use for kangaroo care.
Gráinne Evans, a mother in Northern Ireland, UK was at a high risk of postpartum depression after she gave birth. Her daughter, Tessa, had a rare condition—she was born without a nose. The traumatic period that followed with all the anxiety caused by her medical treatment might easily have led to her mother becoming depressed. Gráinne found that wearing Tessa in a sling helped tremendously with her mental state and aided bonding. Hear what she said below:
You can read Gráinne’s story here: Breastfeeding with a Tracheostomy Breastfeeding Today.