The journey through the postpartum period is a unique and transformative experience for new mothers. It’s a time filled with joy, but it can also be marked by physical and emotional challenges. During this critical phase, building a strong connection with your newborn is essential not only for their development but for your own well-being as well. One beautiful and time-tested practice that can aid in both postpartum healing and enhancing the parent-child bond is babywearing.
In this blog post, we will explore the significance of babywearing in the postpartum period. There are so many physical and emotional changes and challenges that new mothers face and babywearing has been proven to offer a path to healing in so many ways! We’ll explain babywearing, choosing the right baby carrier, and how to reap all the benefits of babywearing beyond hands free parenting. And of course, we’ll share practical tips for safe babywearing and provide resources and support to help you on your journey towards postpartum healing and connection.
The Postpartum Journey
Pregnancy is such a wild journey and we spend so much time preparing for labor and delivery that often we arrive at the 4th trimester completely in shock and unprepared. Those days after giving birth are sacred and beautiful and they can also be really difficult. The journey to the 4th trimester looks different for everyone! Maybe you had a difficult pregnancy, but smooth delivery. Or maybe the opposite. Maybe your delivery went just as planned or maybe there were complications and trauma. However you arrive to your postpartum days, know that all the ups and downs are normal and there is support available!
The postpartum period can be filled with physical challenges such as healing from childbirth, fatigue, and changes in body image. Emotionally, many women experience mood swings, postpartum depression, and a sense of overwhelm. All of these things play a huge role in how we face each day ahead of us!
To navigate postpartum recovery successfully, self-care and healing are crucial. In many cultures around the world, women stay home for at least 40 days to heal and rest. Their families and communities surround them to help take care of cooking, cleaning, and other siblings and allow mom to rest and bond with baby. As I write this my eyes are rolling a little bit and I want to say, “wouldn’t THAT be nice?!” Sounds a bit like a dream, right? I’m aware of the challenges modern moms and women face post-delivery. We’re expected to bounce back and our spouses or partners head back to work almost immediately and we do the same after a short 6-12 weeks. Sometimes sooner. So even if reality doesn’t permit you the ideal scenario, find ways to incorporate what you can – recruit family and friends to make a meal train, ask someone to help clean your house, hire a post-partum doula to help with baby so you can get rest. This is not the time to adopt the “I can do it all” mentality. It’s ok to do nothing except bond with your baby and care for your healing postpartum body.
Babywearing is the practice of carrying an infant or young child in a carrier, sling, or wrap attached to the caregiver’s body. It allows parents or caregivers to keep their baby close, while leaving their hands free to perform various tasks. Babywearing has been a traditional practice in many cultures worldwide for centuries, and it continues to gain popularity in modern society for its numerous benefits.
There are various types of baby carriers and wraps available, each offering different styles and features. The choice of carrier often depends on personal preference, the age and weight of the baby, and the specific needs of the caregiver and child.
Babywearing promotes bonding between the caregiver and the baby, as it allows for close physical contact and responsiveness to the baby’s needs. A recent study shows that babywearing is a low-cost intervention to reduce postpartum depression symptoms. It also offers practical benefits, such as ease of transportation and the ability to multitask while caring for the baby. Additionally, babywearing can aid in the baby’s development by promoting healthy hip positioning and supporting physical and emotional development. It is a versatile and valuable tool for caregivers looking to provide comfort and care to their infants while maintaining mobility and connection.
Choosing the Right Baby Carrier
The best baby carrier is one that safely and ergonomically holds your baby, is comfortable for you and your baby, is simple to use and offers the functionality your lifestyle requires. But after years of caregivers trying different babywearing methods, coupled with today’s technology, you’re presented with more carrier choices than ever. How do you choose which infant carrier to get? It’s mostly up to your personal preference.
The four most popular types of baby carriers include:
- Wraps / Mei Tais
- Ring Slings
- Soft-structured Carriers
- Woven Wraps
Healing Benefits of Babywearing
Babywearing can be a valuable aid in physical healing during the postpartum period in several ways:
- Faster Recovery from Childbirth: After giving birth, it’s essential for new mothers to rest and allow their bodies to heal. However, this doesn’t mean staying sedentary all the time. Gentle movement, such as walking, can actually promote faster recovery. Babywearing allows you to go for leisurely walks with your baby, which can aid in improving circulation, reducing swelling, and assisting in the healing process. The gentle swaying motion while babywearing can also be soothing and help alleviate postpartum discomfort. And many baby carriers are c-section friendly!
- Reduced Physical Discomfort: Many new mothers experience physical discomfort after childbirth, such as soreness, muscle tension, and back pain. Baby carriers are designed to distribute your baby’s weight evenly across your body, reducing the strain on specific muscle groups. This can alleviate some of the discomfort associated with constantly holding or carrying your baby in your arms. Properly adjusted carriers also ensure that your baby’s weight is supported in an ergonomically sound way, which can reduce strain on your back and shoulders.
It’s important to note that while babywearing can offer these physical benefits, it’s crucial to use a carrier that provides proper support and allows for safe and comfortable positioning for both you and your baby. Babywearing should be comfortable! If you’re using a carrier and something doesn’t feel quite right, you can schedule a free babywearing consultation with one of our babywearing experts so you can get the perfect fit for you and baby.
Babywearing is a powerful practice that can have significant positive effects on the emotional well-being of both parents and their babies. Here’s how it can alleviate stress, reduce the risk of postpartum depression, and foster a deep emotional connection between parent and child:
- Alleviating Stress:
- Physical Proximity: Babywearing allows your baby to remain physically close to you for extended periods. This proximity triggers the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone” or “bonding hormone.” Oxytocin helps reduce stress and anxiety levels in both the parent and the baby.
- Hands-Free Convenience: With your baby securely in a carrier, you can attend to daily tasks and errands while keeping your baby close. This practicality can reduce the stress of trying to balance childcare responsibilities with household chores or work obligations.
- Calming Effect: The gentle swaying motion and the sound of your heartbeat and voice provide a soothing environment for your baby. This calming effect can help reduce fussiness and stress in your baby, which, in turn, reduces your stress levels as a parent.
- Reducing the Risk of Postpartum Depression
- Increased Bonding:** Babywearing encourages skin-to-skin contact and continuous interaction between parent and child. This consistent connection helps build a strong emotional bond, which is essential for mental well-being. Feeling emotionally connected to your baby can reduce the risk of developing postpartum depression.
- Enhanced Confidence: The close contact and responsiveness of babywearing can boost your confidence as a parent. When you see your baby content and secure while being carried, it reinforces your sense of competence, which is crucial for emotional stability.
- Social Interaction: Babywearing facilitates social interaction between your baby and the world around them, allowing them to experience the environment while feeling safe and protected. This can contribute to your baby’s emotional development and reduce the isolation that some new parents may experience, which can be a contributing factor to postpartum depression.
- Fostering a Deep Emotional Connection:
- Constant Contact: Babywearing enables continuous physical contact between you and your baby throughout the day. This closeness helps strengthen the emotional bond between parent and child, as it reinforces a sense of security and trust.
- Shared Experiences: When you wear your baby, they become an active participant in your daily life. They witness and engage in your activities, share your experiences, and are more likely to develop a deep emotional connection with you as a result.
- Enhanced Responsiveness: Babywearing encourages parents to be attuned to their baby’s needs and cues. As you respond promptly to your baby’s signals while babywearing, you reinforce a sense of trust and emotional connection, fostering a strong attachment between you and your child.
If you have had a traumatic birth, a situation that required NICU or separation from baby, or if you have adopted, you can STILL experience all of these benefits. In fact, babywearing is highly recommended to kickstart that bond and heal from any pain and separation.
Practical Tips for Safe Babywearing
Safety Guidelines: Ensuring the safety of your baby while babywearing is of utmost importance. Here are essential guidelines and safety precautions to follow:
- Proper Positioning of the Baby:
– TICKS Rule: Ensure that your baby is positioned correctly using the TICKS rule:
- Tight: The carrier should be snug, with no loose or sagging fabric.
- In view at all times: You should always be able to see your baby’s face without having to open the carrier fabric.
- Close enough to kiss: Your baby’s head should be close enough to your chin that you can easily kiss the top of their head.
- Keep the chin off the chest: Make sure your baby’s chin is not pressed against their chest, which can restrict airflow.
- Supported back: Ensure that your baby’s back is well supported in a natural, rounded position. Their legs should be in a “M” or froggy position (legs spread wide and knees higher than their bottom).
– Maintain an Open Airway: Always ensure that your baby’s airway is clear and unobstructed. Their nose and mouth should remain uncovered, and you should be able to see their face.
- Check Carrier Integrity:
– Inspect Regularly: Before each use, inspect your carrier for any signs of wear and tear, such as frayed straps or damaged buckles. Ensure that all fasteners are secure.
– Follow Manufacturer Instructions: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific carrier. Different carriers may have unique safety features and usage guidelines.
All Ergobaby carriers are covered by the ErgoPromise Lifetime Guarantee. If you find a manufacturing or material defect, we’ll replace the carrier or part at no charge.
- Recognize Signs of Discomfort or Distress in the Baby:
– Check for Comfort: Ensure that your baby is comfortable in the carrier. They should have good posture, with their spine supported and their head well-positioned.
– Monitor Body Temperature: Be mindful of your baby’s body temperature. Babies in carriers can get warm quickly, so avoid overdressing them, and monitor for signs of overheating.
– Respond to Cues: Pay close attention to your baby’s cues. If they seem fussy, uncomfortable, or distressed, promptly remove them from the carrier and attend to their needs.
- Keep Safety in Mind at All Times:
– Never Bend at the Waist: When you need to pick something up from the ground or a low surface, always bend at the knees, keeping your baby’s position stable.
– Stay Aware of Your Surroundings: Be aware of your surroundings, especially when passing through doorways or crowded areas. Take care to avoid bumping into objects or people.
– Secure Accessories: Be cautious with any additional accessories or bags you attach to the carrier. Ensure they are securely fastened and do not pose any choking hazards.
The postpartum period is a time of transformation and connection. Babywearing is a powerful tool that can aid in both postpartum healing and deepening the bond with your newborn. By understanding the practice, choosing the right carrier, and following safety guidelines, you can experience the numerous benefits that babywearing offers. As you embark on this journey, remember the importance of self-care and connection during the postpartum period. Embrace babywearing as a beautiful way to nurture both yourself and your baby during this precious time.