babywearing with prolapse, baby in woven wrap

Babywearing and Prolapse (guest post)

Pelvic Organ Prolapse is common, and can make babywearing complicated. Here is a super post from Nelly Brewer at Forest of Dean Slings on this topic.

Original post by Nelly Brewer can be seee here

🌸 BABYWEARING AND PROLAPSE 🌸

A personal perspective

Pelvic organ prolapse, where one or more pelvic organs bulge into the vaginal cavity, affects A LOT of people who have given birth. If you’ve been diagnosed with, or suspect you may have, prolapse, you may be wondering if it’s safe to carry your baby in a sling or soft carrier.

The answer is – probably! I discovered my prolapse 3 weeks after my first child was born. I’m not a medical professional, but I have gained a great deal of personal insight over the last few years into managing prolapse symptoms, and how to combine this with safe and comfortable babywearing. Below are my thoughts on carrying and prolapse based on my own journey.

babywearing with prolapse, baby in woven wrap

🌸 Carry little and often 🌸

It’s super disappointing to not be able to go on a 4 mile walk through the woods with your newborn. I’ve been there. It sucks. But carrying little and often in a well fitted carrier can help build core muscle strength while reducing further damage. It’s very easy to overdo it, so if you do have a day with a lot of carrying, try to rest the following day. It’s OK to feel frustrated by these limits. Be kind to yourself while you adjust your expectations of your postpartum body.

🌸 Try different carries and carriers 🌸

Carriers are like jeans – different styles suit different wearers and there is no ‘one size fits all’ carrier – whatever the box might say! It’s a good idea to visit your local sling library to try out some different styles, or book a session with a carrying consultant to explore as many options as you can.

Some people with prolapse dislike buckle carriers with firm, structured waistbands, which can constrict and put pressure on the lower abdomen, especially when combined with poor posture. Buckle carriers with less structured waistbands, meh dais and woven wraps might be a better option for some wearers.

You may also find that hip or back carrying places less strain on your pelvic floor than front carrying, particularly when using a carefully tightened woven wrap. Most buckle carriers are suitable for back carrying from around 6 months. Woven wraps can be used for younger babies, but you may want to seek support from a trained carrying consultant before you do so.

🌸 Take Care when Lifting 🌸

Heavy lifting, pushing and pulling is not good for prolapse. Always engage your pelvic floor and breath out when lifting your baby (or anything else!). When moving your baby onto your back in a carrier, a hipscoot or seated lift may be a better option than the ‘superman toss’. Avoid carrying your baby in the car seat wherever possible. A carrier is a much better option for getting your baby to and from the car, and taking them round the supermarket, to baby groups or the health centre.

🌸 Focus on Posture 🌸

Existing poor posture may be exacerbated by the extra load of a baby in a sling, putting extra strain on the back, core and pelvic floor muscles. Paying attention to your posture and taking steps to correct it can help with managing prolapse symptoms both with and without a baby in a carrier.

🌸 Seek professional support 🌸

It’s a good idea to seek support from a trained carrying consultant to help you find a carrier that works for you. It’s also a good idea to seek professional support for your prolapse symptoms. This could include physiotherapy sessions with a women’s health specialist, a low intensity exercise programme focussing on core and pelvic floor strength, and the use of a silicone pessary to support your pelvic organs. In the UK, your GP will be able to signpost you to available NHS services. Be persistent if you’re not offered the support that you need!

🌸 Don’t Panic! 🌸

Prolapses that develop soon after birth have a good chance of improvement even without treatment, but it can take a couple of years. The body produces a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy to loosen the ligaments in the pelvis, and relaxin levels can take a while to reduce after birth, particularly when breastfeeding. It can be really hard to be patient, but hang in there! However, even if your symptoms do go away, it’s important to continue to protect your pelvic floor health.

Further reading about carrying with a postnatal pelvic floor can be found here.


Top FAQS

These are the most common questions about babywearing I am asked, in a single helpful list!

Just click on the links to read the relevant blog posts, some are kindly shared from others

Firstly; some of my most popular articles:

Do the babywearing “rules” really matter?

Babywearing and infant mental health

Babywearing and the mother-baby dyad

Where can I get some training about slings and why they matter?

Secondly, I get this query daily. “Can I use your infographics to support families?” ABSOLUTELY! Everything on this website was created to help families with children to feel close and connected. Please credit me appropriately and link back to my website/social media (facebook, instagram)

Here is the link to the infographics (eg the Fourth Trimester/Build a Happy Brain/Why Carrying Matters/Skin to Skin posters and much more)

Carrying in different circumstances

Can I sleep while my baby sleeps in their carrier?

How do I carry more than one child at a time?

How can I carry safely in hot weather?

How do I keep my baby warm while carrying in the cold?  (ie can I put them in a snowsuit?)

How do I keep myself and baby dry when babywearing in the rain? (Coming soon)

Carrying adopted or foster children

What if my child has a disability? See this link for a stories from families living with a range of specific conditions.

What if babywearing just isn’t working for me?


Encouragement card

Encouragement and Affirmation Cards

Parenting is tough; modern society does not make it easy for families. Parents and carers are often bringing up their babies feeling isolated or uncertain and in need of support and encouragement. These little cards are designed to lift you and help you to keep going with your responsive parenting journey; it will all be worth it.

Read more about why infant mental health matters here and how babywearing can help the formation of the mother-infant-dyad here.

Scroll through the images and let us know which is your favourite, or if you have ideas for more!


fitness dance

Sling Fitness/Dance and Babywearing

There are many fitness or dance classes focused on maternal wellbeing and bonding with baby while babywearing, which can be a great thing to participate in, like Barre and Baby, Dance Like a Mother, Joiemove and Sling Swing, to name just some.

We all know babies thrive when close to their mothers, and baby carriers can help with this rather than putting babies down all the time. Movement and activity are known to lift the mood, and friendly, welcoming social activity is an important part of helping new parents find a supportive community so they feel less alone. So keeping babies close during a fitness or dance class may seem to be a match made in heaven… or is it?

 

Some classes market themselves by suggesting that new mothers should be trying to “get their body back” shortly after birth, so they feel good about themselves. I dislike this phrase; after all, why would you want to encourage a butterfly to revert to a caterpillar? Motherhood and the changes that come with it are to be celebrated. Many women would like to work on the strength and health of their bodies, but this should be a positive choice, not one made out of shame or embarrassment.

Baby safety at all times, and the health and wellbeing of new mothers are both of vital importance. It is my firmly held belief that anyone who is suggesting or recommending the use of a carrier during a class should be competent and confident in their use. This can only come with adequate training.

Furthermore, I believe that the long term health and fitness of women after birth and pregnancy takes precedence over quick-fixes. The pressure to “get your body back” and the media focus on celebrity bodies is not helpful for women. Good mental health and a supportive community are cornerstones of adapting successfully to life as a mother, and for many being active is part of that. However, there is often a significant lack of knowledge about the effects of many activities of daily life, let alone exercises or running etc on the pelvic floor, and loading it further with a baby carrier (especially one that is poorly fitting and uncomfortable) is detrimental in the early weeks to months.

It may take six months to a year for the body to recover completely, (according to research at Salford University). Of course this is very individual, depending on previous levels of health and fitness, how pregnancy and birth went, etc. Some women will be much more ready to return to their previous levels of activity than others. The “six week check” by the GP is often used as a benchmark to “sign off” as fit for exercise or dance classes. However, this is not what the six week check is for and this is not an appropriate way to establish if women are ready to return to increased levels of activity.

You can read more about my thoughts on slings and exercise here. 

I believe that in order to be able to offer dance or exercise classes safely and beneficially, all instructors should be focused and committed to the health and wellbeing of both the mother and the baby as their top priority.

Instructors should all

  • Have formal, high quality and officially recognised postnatal training qualifications (requiring assessment, and willing to provide these credentials to parents who ask.)
  • Have a significant depth of knowledge on the pelvic floor after birth and the effects of certain movements and activity on this recovering organ. This is often lacking. I recommend the courses for fitness professionals run by Louise Field of Adore your Pelvic Floor.
  • Offer proper assessment of a mother’s functional strength (beyond the “six week check”) and a willingness to adapt movements to reflect this.
  • Demonstrate the ability and commitment to put the client and baby’s needs first, even if it means saying that the class isn’t suitable. Babies are not an accessory to be used for fitness.

plus

  • High quality, in depth babywearing peer supporter training to ensure mothers and babies are carrying safely at all times, without any compromises. Instructors should have a particular interest in babywearing for its own sake, as opposed to something to add onto existing classes. Ideally they will already be familiar with slings. They should demonstrate a keen desire to be practising optimally and in line with current best practice. Baby and maternal safety is always paramount. 

babywearing peer supporter training

If you would like to explore the option of peer supporter training, please contact me to discuss. I reserve the right to decline training.

Please note that training with me is NOT an endorsement of any class, and Carrying Matters is NOT and never has been affiliated in any way with any fitness or dance classes.

I am no longer able to offer half day “safety awareness training” courses to those who are running postnatal fitness/dance classes. After a while running these courses, I feel this insufficient time to cover all the issues in enough depth to ensure the safety of babies and their mothers. This is especially as babywearing is not usually the main focus of the class and many class instructors have hardly any personal experience with babywearing themselves. Anyone who sees babywearing as an integral part of their class will be willing to invest in in-depth training with assessment.

Please note that I have attended a full day of training in pelvic floor awareness for fitness professionals myself.


Secure Attachment and the "Fourth Trimester"

Secure attachment is the deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space; a "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings" (Bowlby/Ainsworth).

wrap hugSecure attachment to other people is vital to human health and wellness; we thrive on relationship, on belonging. Such healthy attachments are the bedrock to future positive mental health and enjoyable relationships. However, Sutton Trust research shows that 40% of children lack secure attachments; instead they display insecure-ambivalent, insecure-avoidant or disorganized/disoriented attachment, and are significantly disadvantaged, especially those growing up in poverty.

Research shows that one of the strongest predictors for insecure attachments in children is to have a parent who lacks secure attachment themselves.

 

So, how do you build a secure attachment relationship with your child?

Secure attachment is created by loving responsiveness to your child's needs. It is not about your parenting style. Your baby may sleep in a crib or your bed, be fed from a breast or a bottle, be held in arms or a sling, be weaned in any style, be brought up by any combination of carer and still have secure attachments. It is not about subscribing to a particular parenting philosophy. You do not have to sacrifice everything - your identity, your sanity, your relationship, your job, your money or anything else at the "altar of childhood".

Building secure attachment is about having respect for a child's personhood, building their sense of self-worth within a consistent, loving and responsible relationship, regardless of their age or understanding.

Your child's humanity is as valuable as your own; neither more nor less. You are your child's advocate in the world and their greatest defender. You can provide for their every need, and they depend entirely on you and your surrounding network. They will learn whether or not they matter from how they are treated and how their requests for support are met. Securely attached children are confident that they will be cared for, and that any distress will be met by love. They are easily soothed by their caregiver when upset, are more able to be self-reliant, form positive relationships and generally have smoother paths through life.

However, their needs need to be balanced with that of the family, as a crumbling family dynamic will ultimately not be in anyone's best interests.

The "fourth trimester" is where attachments begin to form.

What is the Fourth Trimester?

Kay and AlexTheories regarding the size of the infant cranium, the shape of the upright human maternal pelvis, and the limits of the mother's metabolic energy provision for growth all discuss why human babies are born at a stage where they are still very vulnerable. This is in contrast to many other species where a young animal will be able to walk after its mother within hours of birth, or sleep in a hidden nest. To survive, a human baby needs to be held and carried around by his carers, fed and kept warm or he will die. To thrive, a baby also needs love and secure attachment.

The ‘fourth trimester" is the period immediately after birth, a few more months of intense nurturing to allow a baby to continue with their essential development from a place of security and safety.

A baby who has spent all their life growing peacefully in the womb, gently compressed by uterine walls at the end of the third trimester, will find the sensation being born, followed by freedom and open space in the outside world enormously different. Limbs that have been limited are suddenly free to stretch wide, darkness has turned to light, the muffled gentle rhythmic sounds of the mother's body have been replaced by loud, unfamiliar noises or deep silence. Constant gentle motion has turned into complete stillness or sudden movements. No wonder that when babies are held close, rocked and soothed, contained in soft boundaries once more, that they settle; this feels right and familiar.

 

The "fourth trimester” is all about gentle transitioning from the peace and stability of the womb towards active involvement in a new world.

A newborn needs to be supported to gain skills and strength at a steady, individual pace from the security of an unshakeable foundation and place of comfort and familiarity. Being held, close to familiar noises and scents is essential to development and positive learning; the infant brain is growing rapidly and forming new connections all the time. Connections that are reinforced frequently will persist into later life, whereas those that are rarely used will wither away. It is worth taking the time to ensure that these unconsciously forming connections are positive ones. Young infants do not have the cognitive development to behave in "manipulative" ways; but they do learn to trust someone who proves reliable time and again as these pathways are reinforced. They will be startled and upset when this love is withdrawn.

The importance of responsiveness

If you are sensitive and responsive to your baby as they begin to communicate their needs with you (by crying, wriggling, yawning etc) they will learn that they matter to someone. If they are uncomfortable, the people they are learning to trust will soothe them. When they are hungry, they will be fed, when they are tired, they will feel secure enough to sink into sleep. They will not be frequently left alone unattended for long periods of time, and will not be left to exhaust themselves in calling for someone who never comes. When they cry, loving arms will be there to comfort and keep them safe. These same arms will show them the world and provide a safe place that facilitates learning. Carrying matters; babies need it. It does not make them clingy, rather, the solid foundation of secure attachment relationships will be the springboard to confident independence later in life.

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How does babywearing help?

One tool that can help you meet your child's need for loving contact in these early months is a soft carrier that holds them in a comfortable, safe and anatomically respectful position. Such carriers will help you to meet their needs to be close to you while allowing you to be hands-free for daily life. There are many other positive reasons to carry a child; such as reduced crying, reduced plagiocephaly and more. Parents benefit too, for example carrying can be helpful for those with postnatal depression, and increase overall activity levels. This idea is not new; most of the world’s families across history and cultures have used some form of sling to make life work.

karena-1

You can find out more from your local sling library or consultant; there are hundreds across the UK. They will help you to find the right type of carrier for your needs. 

What about my older child?

Attachment relationships continue to form beyond the early months and children's brains are very "plastic". Warm, responsive, emotionally available parenting will help to build a child's sense of self-worth at any age. There is evidence that "mind-minded" parents (ie those who treat their children as intelligent, relational individuals with feelings, and speaking to them in such a way) seem to have children with more secure attachments. Active play and laughter, as well as consistent loving boundaries help to reinforce neural connections that the primary caregivers are a reliable source of security; forming strong foundations for the future. Read more about how carrying can help the learning brain.

carrying matters

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References

Bowlby J. (1969). Attachment. Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Loss. New York: Basic Books

Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1973). The development of infant-mother attachment. In B. Cardwell & H. Ricciuti (Eds.), Review of child development research (Vol. 3, pp. 1-94) Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Sutton Trust; Baby Bonds Parenting, attachment and a secure base for children. March 2014 Research by Sophie Moullin, Jane Waldfogel and Elizabeth Washbrook

http://www.parentingscience.com/attachment-parenting.html

Rethinking Maternal Sensitivity: Mothers’ Comments on Infants’ Mental Processes Predict Security of Attachment at 12 Months; J. Child Psychol. Psychiat. Vol. 42, No. 5, pp. 637–648, 2001


carrying in special circumstances

Carrying in Special Circumstances

Sometimes there is a need for extra support with using slings; don’t be discouraged if you or your child have extra needs, there are always ways to keep carrying in special circumstances.

If your child can be held and carried in arms, there is likely to be a way to carry them safely in a sling. Twins can be carried in slings, as can a baby and a toddler at the same time (tandem carrying). There are ways to carry safely in pregnancy, to carry after birth, to carry premature babies. We will help you to carry your child if you have a disability, or if your child has special needs or physical health concerns. We are here to help you find a way to keep them close.

This page links to some useful information; personal stories about carrying in special circumstances, professional advice and useful links. Please see our Common Queries page for simpler situations.

If you have a special story, please get in touch to share them with me for the wider community!

Here is an excellent downloadable article on Potential Therapeutic Benefits of Babywearing by Robyn Reynolds-Miller.

You can find more educational resources here for downloading (such as infographics and leaflets and images)

If you need more specialised support or have a query not covered here, please do get in touch with me or find your local sling library at Sling Pages.


carrying a premature baby

Carrying a Premature Baby

This is Kay and Alex's story of carrying a premature baby. She tells us about their lives together and what role slings have played in their rocky journey. It is a truly inspiring story of great courage and endurance and I am honoured to have played a small part.

 

"For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a mum, but my real journey to parenthood started 5 years ago. I decided that I didn't want to wait for the "right person" to come along and started looking into fertility treatment for single women.  Unfortunately the process wasn't was easy as I expected; after lots of tests and surgery I discovered that I had endometriosis which may affect fertility..

I started out doing IVI with donor sperm but after two attempts with no success it was suggested that IVF might have a better chance of working. I decided to take part in the egg-sharing programme to reduce the cost and hopefully help someone else too. During this time there was a lot of compulsory counselling to ensure I was aware of all potential outcomes. I'm very lucky that I have a fantastic support system of family and friends around me, especially my parents.

The first attempt at IVF was not straightforwards, I got 14 eggs, (7 of which were donated), but only one was fertilised. This was put back and I got a chemical pregnancy but miscarried. I also got a relatively rare condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) which made me really ill and I had to be hospitalised on numerous occasions. Due to the poor fertilisation rate it was thought that I had poor egg quality so had to pay the full cost of IVF treatment (as a single woman I was not entitled to any NHS treatment.)

On the second IVF attempt, medications were reduced to try lessening the risk of OHSS but because doctors were anxious about this, the egg collection was done too early and 5 eggs were lost during retrieval. This attempt was unsuccessful. I again got OHSS but much milder this time. The emotional rollercoaster or IVF is unimaginable and the hormones of treatment don't help! You spend all your time so focused on preparing to become pregnant, trying to stay positive, eat well etc, then once the embryo is implanted you have the longest two weeks praying you are pregnant and counting down to the day you can take a pregnancy test... but as soon as it is test day comes you don't want to do the test because you are until then "Pregnant till Proven Otherwise" ( PUPO). Internet support groups become your sanctuary because others undergoing IVF can understand what you are feeling, while your family and friends sometimes don't understand why you put yourself through so much. IVF became my only focus.

After the second attempt I had an eight month break to save up as I had used all my savings. I decided that the next would be my last attempt and I would do everything I could to try to help it work so I would have no regrets. I changed my diet (cutting out all processed food), saw a nutritionist, had regular massage (including Mayan abdominal massage) and acupuncture. We changed the IVF regime to one that had a higher chance of success but also a higher risk of OHSS. It was a risk I was willing to take. I had partly given up hope of this round working, as I got two fertilised eggs out of 19 when I began getting the OHSS symptoms again on day 2.

I did a home pregnancy test two days before test day..... and it was positive!

I didn't know how to react, so burst into tears before laughing maniacally then calling my best friend and my parents. The excitement wore off quickly though when I was admitted to hospital with OHSS at just 4+1 weeks. At a point when I had hoped that the hard part was over, it turned out that this was just the beginning of another difficult journey.

kay USSAt 18 weeks pregnant, I began getting tightenings. As a midwife, I knew that Braxton Hicks could start early, so I just assumed it was this. though I also worried it might be something more. At 19+4 with continued tightenings, I was seen by my consultant for review and thankfully everything looked ok and possibly just a urine infection causing all this. I was reassured two days later when I had my anatomical scan and everything looked good with a healthy active baby.

I continued to have tightenings but tried to ignore them as everything else seemed OK. Then exactly two weeks later after my scan at 21+6, I started with the smallest amount of bleeding. Again I was reassured as baby seemed OK and it had settled, possibly caused by a cervical erosion, and just to observe. I continued spotting on and off but nothing major, until I was at work on a shift on labour ward at 23+1 weeks pregnant.

I had a significant bleed and was terrified. I felt it was too far on in the pregnancy to lose the baby now but it was far too early to be born. I burst into tears. I am so grateful that I was at work surrounded by fantastic colleagues. I was admitted to the antenatal ward for observation overnight and I didn't go home again.

I continued to have tightenings and bleeding to varying degrees over the next three weeks. Getting to 24 weeks was a major milestone and I was given steroids to mature the baby's lungs. At around 25 weeks my waters went though because of the bleeding it wasn't obvious. Baby was breech and because of the situation I kept being told I might be taken for a Caesarean if bleeding increased or I went into labour. I saw paediatricians who told me stark statistics about survival rates and disability. As a midwife I knew these things but as a mum it just didn't sink in. I was tearful and losing hope. At 25+5 I had a major bleed that got me taken to labour ward and starved in case it continued and and I needed theatre. I spent the next two days in high dependency being observed and in denial.

Writing it down now it seems so silly but even given the bleeding, tightenings and water break it still never clicked to anyone that the pain I was in could be labour. At exactly 26 weeks I was found to be 7cm dilated. Two hours later I had a vaginal breech delivery complicated by the head getting stuck.

Alexander Benjamin was born weighing 1lb 12 oz and in a very poor condition.

newborn Alex

The room was full of people but no-one was saying a word. Looking back at his notes now it says it took 18minutes to stabilise him before taking him to intensive care but it didn't feel that long to me. It seems awful to think about it now but at that point once Alex was born all I felt was relief. I was glad the pregnancy was finally over after months of feeling ill and stressed. I had spent the last few weeks trying to detach from the pregnancy as I feared the worst, but in the moment when Alex was taken away and we (myself, my parents and my friend) were left alone the silence said it all.

phototherapyI know it can often take up to an hour to get a baby settled into neonatal unit with all the lines, Xrays etc so we patiently waited. After nearly two hours I went to ask if we could see him.. the midwife came back saying the consultant wanted to come and talk to us first. I know the language of medical professionals and I honestly thought we had lost him. The consultant came round and told us that "Alex is a very sick little boy" and that the first 24hours would be critical. I think the adrenaline stopped me from feeling the full effects of the situation but looking back now at pictures and videos of those first hours has me choked up. Alex was beautiful to me, but so frail. You can count every rib and due to the manipulation of delivery his leg is almost black with bruising. He was covered with monitoring leads and various IV lines plus on a ventilator to keep him alive. He was put under phototherapy immediately.

Only I was allowed to touch him but couldn't hold him yet.
kay first holdMy first hold came on November 17th, aptly, World Prematurity Day. I was nervous about pulling a line or hurting him but also so excited to hold him! He was put skin to skin down my top and his ventilator tubes taped to me to keep him safe. I can still smell him now and it brings me to tears. As a parent you take for granted the milestones you will see; the birth experience you imagined, the crying baby just born and put skin to skin at once. I didn't get these, and my milestones with Alex are different, but even more amazing after the challenges he has faced. We spent 135 days in the neonatal unit and I was there 12 hours a day for 133 of those days. (Two days I was ill from sheer exhaustion and wasn't allowed in.)

skin to skin ventilatedI spent my time holding Alex as much as I could and when he was too poorly to be held I touched him through the incubator and spoke and sang to him. I felt being physically close would help us both bond better, especially after an awful pregnancy and so much separation. I was already aware of the Sheffield Sling Surgery due to friends attending and had contacted Rosie early on in pregnancy as I had planned to carry my baby in a sling. Once Alex was over the first big hurdle of coming off the ventilator at a month old, I got back in touch to find out if slings could help us while still in the NICU. The physiotherapist on the unit was very in favour of using slings and gave me a Vija top to try, but I felt it was more comfy just using my strappy top as we got so tangled with the wires.By the time we moved to HDU it was a slightly more relaxed environment with staff that seemed more in favour of breastfeeding and skin to skin. I decided, after discussion with Rosie, to buy my first sling, a Hana stretchy wrap.

It felt complicated at first getting used to the technique of wrapping and because of all the monitoring it would often take someone else to help me get all the wires sorted, but once Alex was put into the sling he fell straight to sleep. I noticed that often his heart rate and oxygen sats would improve too and it made me even more determined to keep him close.

skin to skin ventilated

Our journey through special care gives me mixed emotions. On the one hand I would never wish this experience on anyone. The constant stress, not just for myself but also family and friends around me. The fear that if I leave, something might happen. Every time the phone rang panic would set in and don't even get me started on the paediatricians coming up to the ward!

However, my life has changed completely in so many good ways. I have realised and experienced how fantastic the care is from my colleagues. I have become closer to my family and friends and I love watching my parents with Alex. I feel I will be an even more sympathetic and understanding midwife and I hope my practice will change to support women who go through similar experiences. Most of all I have realised my dream of becoming a mum and to the most incredible little fighter I have ever met.

fighter Alex

 

I feel I have a strong bond with Alex and many people have commented on how well I can read him. I believe it is because of staying close to him as much as I have and having him in the sling has facilitated this.

Alex has Chronic Lung Disease and came home on oxygen in March. He is doing incredibly well on the lowest level now, but transporting the oxygen has been a bit of a challenge for me. The canister is heavy and the container rucksack has narrow shoulders so has hurt my shoulders; trying to balance that weight against Alex has not been easy. At times I have felt isolated simply because of that. However I have met some wonderful people on my journey through special care and in the sling community (often the two groups mix!) and we wouldn't be where we are now without these challenges.kay alex hana

We are still using our Hana wrap, and I've been trying out a snuggly Sleepy Nico! I've learned how to use woven wraps; we are beginning to back carry; the end of the oxygen is in sight! Time to tuck Alex up into the Sleepy Nico and reconnect after a long day.

back carry o2


Stretchy Wraps and Close Caboo

I am a big fan of stretchy wraps and their variants (like the Close Caboo). They come in all shapes and sizes, and are usually to be found cuddling a tiny baby close to someone’s chest. Many babies adore the security and safety of the wrap and fall quickly to sleep. For many parents, they are the first slings they own, for good reason.

Like all carriers, stretchy slings need to be used safely and the TICKS guidelines should always be followed. The most important consideration is to protect baby’s airway; a baby’s neck should never be folded in half and two fingers should fit between their chin and their chest.

The most frequently adopted position for carrying is upright and facing in, with legs slightly spread apart (the M position) and head well supported, as this will also protect growing hips and spine. The stretchy wrap will provide gentle mouldable support and can be adjusted to provide head support.

Babies often sleep in stretchy wraps/Close Caboos, when well positioned, as the closeness and snuggliness of the layers of fabric (always at least two layers of fabric with a stretchy!) mimic the close conditions of the womb during pregnancy, and being in contact with a parent’s skin and near a parent’s heartbeat and able to hear a parent’s voice is extremely reassuring for babies.

The most common style of carry is the pocket wrap cross carry (where baby’s legs are on either side of two cross passes). Once you have the hang of it, it is quick and easy, and the wrap can be left on all day and baby popped in and out.

carrying in the postnatal period

What is a Stretchy Wrap? (see further below for the Close Caboo)

A stretchy wrap is a length of fabric, usually made of soft and stretchy machine knitted cotton, that is usually between 4 and 5m long and about half a meter wide. Some have bamboo blended in with the cotton, which adds to the softness and comfort, and some have a small proportion of spandex, which adds to their elasticity and stretch.

They are suitable from birth, and in fact are often used for kangaroo care in hospitals with premature babies, and most people will find their stretchy wraps will be suitable for at least six months and often many more, especially for the days when active babies are sad and need all-over-cuddles or need some sleep. The gentle all-round pressure helps to reduce excessive stimuli and allow a baby to switch off and sleep.

Not all stretchy slings are the same (varying in stretchiness and ease of use) but by and large, they have the same purpose – to be a comfortable one-size-fits-most sling that a parent can pre tie before putting baby in. This means that the sling can stay on all day and baby can be tucked into it easily and quickly when needed, and taken out again very simply. There is no need to retie a stretchy over and over again during the day. The stretchy does not need to be removed for breastfeeding (see below for how to do this safely).

How do I put my stretchy on?

The key to success is in preparation; getting the tension of the passes right before baby goes in, and ensuring their position is correct. I always recommend that each pass is in place in baby’s kneepits to ensure baby is in the M shape and held chest to chest before the fabric is then spread across their body, one side at a time. These images show optimal positioning for a young baby in the wrap – each kneepit is supported in the M shape and baby is chest to chest in the gentle J shape.

Here is a quick subtitled video showing how a young baby can be positioned well.

Many people worry that it looks fiddly, complicated or that there is too much fabric. But really, it is simple – you just tie it on the same way each time and pop baby carefully into the cross passes on your chest. The videos here all show just how simple it can be. I work with “two-way” stretchy wraps (they stretch lengthways and widthways and are easy to maneouvre).

With premature or especially small babies who still have their feet held very close to their bodies, other techniques (still using the same tie method) may be more suitable, such as this one (video link). Please get in touch with your local sling educator (www.slingpages.co.uk) for extra help.

Please note that horizontal cradle style carries are no longer recommended due to airway risk. Some older instructions unfortunately still contain this position.

Here is another video of the pocket wrap cross carry from Noah’s Arc Sling Library

And here is an audio described version of the above

A step by step stretchy wrap photo tutorial guide; this is a two-way stretchy wrap. Two-way stretchy wraps stretch along their width and their length.

The key to success is in preparation; getting the tension right before baby goes in, and ensuring their position is right before spreading any fabric. Quick link to this tutorial here.

Video of the Pocket Wrap Cross Carry with a two way stretchy wrap  (Hana, Boba, JPMBB), showing how to avoid slumping. This is the same technique as the photo tutorial.

A more detailed, slower video with doll can be seen on this YouTube link

How to take a baby out of a stretchy wrap without untying  – this allows the wrap to stay on all day and baby can be popped in and out, rather than retying over and over again.

A short video for how to do the pre-flipped shoulder to keep fabric away from baby’s face. This is important to ensure there is no airway obstruction.


The pelvic tuck with stretchy wraps (and all carriers) is important, for baby’s airway support and also for comfort.

pelvic tuck

Passes in knee-pits and good M shape position

Top Tips!

  • Make sure the fabric is snug. Slack fabric leads to slumping later. Take time to make sure all the passes are tight and when stretched out, are no looser than the volume of your baby's body.
  • It will be much easier if you hold your baby in the secure M and J shape positions onto your chest before you put the carrier on.
  • Put both baby's legs into each cross pass and ensure he is sitting down with the passes in his kneepits, and then straighten him up and check his position. His ribcage should be snug against your chest and his chin up.
  • Then spread each pass one by one, kneepit to kneepit (this avoids sideways slump).
  • Ensure there is no fabric over your baby's face; fold the fabric out of the way, ensuring each pass still comes up to the neck.
  • Pull up the third pass to the back of baby's neck. Some people will fold the top edge over a rolled up muslin to provide a little extra neck support for active babies.
  • You should feel like you can lean forwards (with one hand on baby's head) and baby should not swing free.

Post-natal stretchy use

Dads use stretchies too

reduce crying

Common Queries about Stretchies

Breastfeeding in Stretchies

It’s possible to breastfeed in a stretchy, once feeding is well established and you are confident with your use of the sling. The video below shows you how you can use your stretchy as an aid for feeding without needing to unwrap each time. Please note that baby’s head is not covered by fabric and her neck is supported throughout. When baby has finished feeding, she must be returned to her safe upright position and not left to sleep in the horizontal position.

No breastfeeding is hands free, and it is usually a good idea to get some help and advice from people who are familiar with how to do it.

Can I face my baby outwards with the stretchy?

Forward facing out in a stretchy is not recommended for several reasons, even though some older instruction manuals show how to do it. Newer companies do not have this carry in their instructions. Why not?

  • No head support can be created in this position, and babies have heavy heads in proportion to their bodies. A sleepy head lolling forwards may compress the airway and impede breathing, just as the cradle carry may do.
  • A baby facing out has no support for the hips and legs (see this article for more)
  • The spine is artificially straightened in the forward facing out position when it should be curved.
  • Babies do not have the ability to “zone out” from all the conflicting sensory streams that comes from being held facing out. They need to be able to switch off and rest against a reassuring parent; this is hard to achieve facing out.

 

Read more here about facing out carriers; this can work well with older children.

How long will I be able to use my stretchy wrap?

That depends on the stretchy. Many people find that as babies get bigger and want to be able to see the world around them, they can find the all-over cuddle of the wrap a little restrictive for seeing. At this point, opening the shoulders out can help with visibility, but do keep a hand near any wobbly heads. Stretchies are great for older babies who are sad or uncomfortable and want a cuddle, or are ready for a sleep.

Most people will find the stretchy wrap works very well for the first six to nine months of age (a few will last into toddlerhood), and is just the start of a happy babywearing journey as their baby grows bigger. At this point, parents may begin to consider other carriers that have a wider vantage point. Some will allow more open shoulder strap angles, some will allow hip carrying, (such as ring slings or the Scootababy) and back carrying may not be far off!

 


Troubleshooting your Stretchy Wrap

  • Feeling too tight? Baby should be close enough to kiss, able to rest his head on your upper chest just under your chin. You should feel able to take a deep breath without feeling constricted (one hand's breadth between your baby's ribcage and your chest.) Any looser and baby may begin to slump. You can often lower your baby by putting your hands inside the carrier under her bum and bringing her down a little. Many stretchy wraps will have a little give in them and as you walk, baby is likely to settle down a little lower naturally.
  • Too loose or too low? Your stretchy is likely not tight enough; retie or see the video for how to tighten.
  • Baby slumping to one side? This can be avoided by putting baby's legs into each cross pass in turn, just into the knee pits, and ensuring he is positioned right before you then spread each pass.
  • Baby seems to be too curled up or folded inside the stretchy? This is likely due to the fabric not being snug enough, see the video for how to "unfurl" a slumping baby to keep their chest cavity well supported.
  • Baby's face buried in fabric? Ensure stretchy is snug (looseness leads to slumping over. You can fold or flip the shoulder passes (see photo below) for airflow and visibility, and use the other side as a hood if tolerated.
  • Baby wants to lean back and look at you? You can use a rolled up muslin folded into the top section to provide some neck support.

Unfurling a slumped baby

Stretchy too loose or too low and don’t want to re-wrap? Here is how to tighten it up to get baby back into a safe position.

Folded shoulders for airflow and a hood

A rolled muslin forming a neck support


More videos (for one way stretchy wraps like the Moby) or the pocket double hammock carry for babies who prefer to be legs in can be found here on the videos page.


Carrying twins in a stretchy wrap

Many parents of twins will use a good, supportive stretchy wrap to carry their small twins, with one twin in each cross pass. It can take a little practice, do come and get some help!

Babywearing twins

Putting twins in a stretchy wrap

There are many other ways to carry twins as they grow; get in touch with us to get some one to one help or visit our twin support group Peas in a Pod with one of our peer supporters for some simple advice and guidance.


Close Caboo Carrier

This is a semi-structured carrier made of one-way stretchy fabric that has the two cross passes sewn into position, and is tightened once baby is in by pulling any excess fabric through two rings at the side. There is less fabric than the typical stretchy, and it can seem simpler to put on at the beginning, which some people find useful. See the video for how to do it well and safely; the key is to prepare it properly, to fit your baby’s body right at the start. It is popular with those who find the tying and wrapping of a stretchy less to their liking but still wish for the cuddly wrap feel.

Common issues

  • Each pass needs to be untwisted and pre-tightened into a hammock shape before putting baby in; too-loose passes at the beginning will mean that baby sinks and slumps.
  • Ensure you have the cross piece on the back pulled down to the middle of your back, not resting by your neck.
  • Try to get the passes the right snugness for your baby’s body before you put them in.
  • Each cross pass must be tightened (or loosened) in strands across the full width of each pass to be effective and avoid slumping.
  • The third part must be tied on to ensure good head and neck support.

Some people can find it harder to fold the shoulders out for good airflow and visibility, due to the fixed hem (this is easier with a good two way stretchy wrap). The preflip in the photo tutorial is an excellent solution to this!

Much of the advice and top tips for the stretchy wrap will apply to the Caboo too, see above.

Close Caboo

Click on the image for the photo tutorial

front carry with a close caboo

Putting on a Close Carrier

Vija Kangaroo Care Tops

These special items of clothing are designed to hold a small baby close to parent’s chest inside some clever built-in pouches. They are very simple to use, and even come in twin form! More information here

Kangaroo Care shirt

carrying in the postnatal period

If you need some more support, your local sling educator can be found listed on the Sling Pages.


positive effects of carrying for parents

Positive Effects of Carrying for Parents and Carers

In-arms carrying and using slings doesn’t just bring good things to babies – they can make a real difference to parents and other caregivers too. Read more about the benefits of babywearing for adults here.

  • It encourages bonding and deepening of a loving relationship via the release of the hormone oxytocin; having baby close heightens the parent’s awareness and can increase their responsiveness to their baby’s needs. You can read more about the effects of oxytocin here.
  • It can increase parental confidence. The parent may be more “in tune” with their baby, as the carried child is part of the parent’s personal space, and the parent will be more aware of changes in a child’s mood, and thus be more able to respond to the child’s facial expressions, gestures and vocalised needs sooner. This will build mutual trust and contentment.
  • There is evidence to suggest that sling use can help with perinatal mood disorders such as postnatal depression, in part due to oxytocin release and in part due to increased bonding.
  • Fathers and other care-givers will be able to use a sling as well, increasing family connections and helping baby recognise more people by their voices and scent. Sling use can be very valuable in giving family members “cuddle time” and can be an useful tool for childminders as well.
  • Slings can provide “hands-free” parenting, which can be very useful, such as making a quick snack, interacting with an older child, doing the housework or other chores. A “fussy” baby may calm and settle in a sling, allowing the parent more choice about how to use their time.
  • Slings can provide opportunities for physical exercise and mental stimulation; a new skill to learn and a new social circle (social sling meets, for example!) Many people find that carrying their children on walks helps to lose weight and tone muscles. Dynamic (in arms carrying) is also a good workout!
  • Slings can provide greater access to the world – in a good sling the only limitations are where your feet can take you. Onto the beach, off the beaten path, up a tower, onto crowded public transport, around busy airports, the world is your oyster!
  • Slings can provide comfort and nurturing for older children as well.

Read more


carrying in the postnatal period

Carrying in the Postnatal Period

lindsay 10days

Is carrying in the postnatal period (in the early weeks after a baby is born) safe?

Babies want to be held close from the very moment they enter the outside world; they crave contact and many will spend their first few days and weeks sleeping in their parents’ arms and feeding frequently, enjoying this close interaction.

Pregnancy can be tiring and uncomfortable for many, due to our changing bodies and habits. We are no longer an upright species but a sedentary one, to our great anatomical and physiological disadvantages; chronic pain is a significant problem for increasing numbers of people in our society. Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction can be debilitating for pregnant women, and there is a growing belief that many women’s bodies are frequently not in the optimal condition to carry a child and thus take much longer to recover from pregnancy than our forebears. Ligament softening and laxity (from the hormonal changes preparing a body to deliver a fetus) can take some time to resolve fully especially if there has been pre-existing back pain and poor posture, and breastfeeding may prolong the effects of relaxin.

Labour, while exhilarating and empowering for some, can be exhausting for others, especially if prolonged. The recent historical practice of lying down for delivery is in marked contrast to how most women around the world across history and cultures have given birth (upright, squatting or kneeling). The natural birth movement and the emergence of doulas to support women with their delivery choices mirrors a growing desire to get back to our ancient human roots, which may also encourage speedier recovery from labour and birth.

Women are becoming prouder of their bodies and what they have achieved; bringing forth life. As a friend of mine once said, how can you ask a butterfly to return to being a caterpilllar? Women's bodies are designed to carry and nurture children before birth and after. Here is a photo of one mum carrying her newborn in the early days after birth, proudly showing her post-partum body. martha RS

The rate of caesarean sections (both planned and as emergency) is high in Western society, currently between 20-25% of births in the UK (with some regional variation). A caesarean section is major abdominal surgery and some recovery time from this is to be expected, and varies enormously from woman to woman, depending on the reasons for the operation. Women are advised to avoid heavy lifting, “carry nothing heavier than your baby”, and not to drive for at least six weeks after birth. Scars can be uncomfortable and slow to heal for some, and some may experience abdominal pain for a while afterwards. Babies may come early and be very frail for several weeks.

Therefore it is not surprising that many mothers worry that after labour and birth, they may not be strong or well enough to carry their newborns in their arms for prolonged periods. Many will have toddlers at home needing the reassurance of their mother’s loving arms to help them cope with the newcomer’s arrival. Paternity or parental leave is often short; in a few weeks mothers are often required to manage at home alone.

Carrying your child in the postnatal period is important.

The early weeks are vital for bonding and attachment, providing continuity and security, promoting breastfeeding and helping to reduce depression. So yes, we should carry our babies somehow after birth. This doesn’t need a sling; people can hold their babies while sitting down and while reclining just as much as while they stand and walk around; it is the closeness and the contact and the skin to skin that promotes bonding and oxytocin release that matters. It helps to shape baby's brain, and also has a positive effect on yours!harriet

Carrying a newborn baby can be very healing if birth has been traumatic or there has been previous bereavement.

“"I had a tiny baby (4lb5oz) and experienced a traumatic birth, I suffered with PTSD. At times this meant I was very anxious and wanted to keep my baby close to me to be sure she was safe. I started with a stretchy wrap when P was just 3weeks old. I truly believe babywearing strengthened my attachment with her and helped me to cope every day." Anon

There are some garments of clothing that can be worn in hospital or in the early weeks after birth; mimicking the practice of putting a tiny newborn down the front of the shirt. Some of these garments (known as skin to skin tops or kangaroo care clothing) are designed for keeping baby skin to skin to the parent while reclining, and are not hands-free.

carrying in the postnatal period
Others are a little more structured (at least two layers of stretchy fabric) and provide enough support for baby that a parent can be hands-free and walk around, similar to a stretchy wrap. These can be most useful in hospital environments for their coolness and simplicity. (in the UK the Vija Design range is the most commonly used).

Please note that if your baby is premature or very small (under 6lb) it is wise to seek the advice of a specialist baby-carrying consultant; many "newborn" carriers, including some stretchy wraps will not provide enough support without guidance on how to use for these babies with special needs.

Breast and bottle-feeding can cause back, neck and shoulder pains, as can prolonged periods of one-sided carrying (which can also affect the pelvic floor and the symphysis pubis.) Being alert to the body’s signals of discomfort and acting on them to frequently redistribute the strain is of great benefit in building up tolerance and strength.

As women recover their strength and are able to do more each day, their mobile carrying abilities will grow too.  As womens’ bodies settle back down after pregnancy, with appropriate pelvic floor toning and correction of posture and alignment, carrying will become easier. Furthermore, as baby gets bigger and heavier, the parent’s muscles will adapt to the gradually increasing weight and become more toned day by day, the more often they carry.

“Much of my pre-pregnancy life was spent in the mountains, and carrying my babies after their birth helped me get back in touch with my "home". It enabled me to very gradually and gently regain some fitness away from busy streets, and felt like less strain on the scar area than pushing a double buggy uphill.” Carissa

twin stretchies

Keeping a baby’s weight high, snug and central will encourage loading across the large weight-bearing axes of the body, thereby preventing strain on muscles, ligaments and the pelvic floor, and avoiding abdominal pressure. Lifting a baby to the chest should be done carefully, with knees bent and upright posture maintained, and pelvic floor and core muscles engaged and active. Most types of carriers will be possible to use after a vaginal birth, and it will be a very individual and personal choice which. On the whole, most babies enjoy the gentle all-around pressure of carriers that can mould softly around them and be reminiscent of the uterine walls they have just left; and carriers that distribute weight widely across the parent’s upper body will be more comfortable. 

If you have a sling that makes your back ache, please visit your local sling library or consultant for a fit check (often a few tweaks make all the difference) or to try an alternative. Cheaper carriers from supermarkets/Ebay often work much less well than better designed carriers and therefore last much longer. "My baby is too heavy for a sling" is usually an issue with the sling not fitting/not being well designed.

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Carrying after a Caesarean

post CSNICUThis is also very possible, and it could be argued, perhaps more important post section than after a normal non-instrumental vaginal delivery, depending on how the individual feels after the surgery. Achieving skin to skin as soon as possible is ideal,  for promoting oxytocin release and bonding.  This is vitally important after a section, especially if it was emergency and traumatic, thereby interrupting many of the biofeedback mechanisms around bonding. It is also important if the section was planned and baby was thus delivered before the biological hormone cascades of labour and birth were able to begin. There can be a strong tendency for women who did not have the birth experience they wished for to feel robbed and deprived of an important part of their baby’s arrival. The subsequent feelings of sadness and grief, or disappointment or that they have let themselves or their baby down somehow, however untrue, can significantly hamper the forming of attachment bonds and play a part in later postnatal depression or other mood disorders.

Mothers who experience this are very likely to find that skin to skin contact and frequent close touch and carrying extremely useful; the process of initiating and mantaining contact and loving touch often acts as a catalyst for the oxytocin release; this positive feedback mechanism will encourage loving feelings to develop despite the less than “perfect” start and get bonding well under way.

As soon as surgery is safely over and a well baby can be given to its mother, skin to skin can begin; resting on the mother’s chest under a blanket, inside a shirt or with kangaroo care clothing. Women are entitled to this skin to skin and should insist upon it; baby does not need to be washed or the cord to be cut before contact is achieved; the sooner the better.

Once mother is ready to move around and carry her child in her arms she can; she is advised to carry nothing heavier than her baby. Some women will choose to use slings immediately, if they feel ready (especially if they are already familiar with slings and feel confident with their use), others will wish to wait, especially if they feel unwell or are in pain. If the mother is confined to hospital and alone for parts of the day and wishes to move around, she may find the sling will help her to feel safer than carrying her baby loose in arms while she is still a little unsteady.

“Having a sling for carrying was very useful, as much easier and less painful than carrying in arms (less stress on abdominal muscles).  It was great for bonding, especially since we were having trouble with breastfeeding.” Rebecca

The key factor is to avoid any carrier from irritating the wound or putting pressure on the abdomen. Double layer kangaroo-care shirts or other soft carriers such as stretchy or woven wraps, high-carrying waistband-less meh dais or buckle-tais and ring slings in frontal tummy to tummy carries, may be options to consider. Baby’s legs should ideally be tucked into the M shape, and this will also help to avoid feet kicking against a still tender wound. As the scar and any abdominal pain heals, carriers with more structured waistbands will become more accessible.xmas connecta

General tips about post-partum carrying (including fitness classes)

Post CS connectasarah hatBaby carrying in the post-partum period is possible, if done in a mindful, responsive way, and can actually help promote recovery.  Holding a baby close in the anatomically correct position so that their weight is well distributed through the large weightbearing axes will tone muscles and improve posture more than pushing a pram with a strong forwards lean. Being able to go for gradually longer and longer walks with your baby in a soft and comfortable sling will rebuild strength and release endorphins which are natural feel-good hormones.
Participating in postnatal recovery programmes can be useful; however combining carrying and exercise/dance is usually best done with great caution as not every provider will have adequate knowledge about postnatal recovery (pelvic floor and diastasis recti issues) or about the rate and speed of each woman’s individual recovery from birth. Many may have no specialist knowledge about safe sling use or how to protect a baby from sudden shaking movements, as well as how to avoid overloading still-recovering tissues with certain stretching or weight-bearing activities with the extra load of a child in a sling. Walking with a baby in the sling, ensuring good alignment and posture, gradually increasing the speed and duration, is usually enough exercise for most women in the early months. Please do not rush; pelvic floor dysfunction is very very common (14 million women in the UK are known to have an issue, and many many more never seek help and remain undiagnosed). Leaking is NOT normal or to be expected. If you are unsure if your pelvic floor is recovering normally, please see your GP.

Read more about babywearing fitness classes here.

Using a sling allows families to settle back into the normal rhythms of daily life.

Often, older siblings are uncertain about the new addition to the family and uneasy about their place in it; they may need extra reassurance with the birth of a new baby. They may wish to return to their mother’s arms and be close to her body, for reassurance and reinforcing of the attachment bond.walk after birth

Toddler carrying after birth

“During the intense post-birth bonding period with D I began to use a couple of wraps that had been favourites of R (the new big brother). It almost felt like a betrayal! But one afternoon, R asked if he could come up for a front carry in his favourite wrap, something he hadn't done for ages, and we twirled round the lounge together laughing while my husband cuddled the new baby. I think that was a really healing moment for us and let my eldest know he still had an important place in my arms too.’  Emma

However, toddler carrying after birth is much more of a challenge, especially if the pelvic floor is weak and there is diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles from the stretching during pregnancy). Please seek help if your floor or core are weak.

tandem Many specialists would suggest it is wise to wait until any pelvic floor/diastasis recti issues have resolved and the mother is functionally strong before beginning to carry toddlers again; this will of course vary widely from woman to woman. Generally those mothers who are well used to carrying toddlers will find it easier to resume carrying than those beginning for the first time, and front carrying may be the most suitable position (rather than hip or back carries, to avoid straining still-healing tissue). Sitting down cuddles may be wise for a while!

Involving the whole family!

The post-partum period may be a great opportunity for other caregivers in the family to share the carrying and begin the bonding process.  Whole families thrive when children are kept close; it spreads the load of child care around. Partners can carry their newborns, or their older children to provide reassurance.

“Carrying our eldest son (3) enabled my wife to give her attention to our new baby. It gave us much needed daddy and son bonding, at a time when he was feeling insecure with the arrival of the new baby.” Mal

Remember, it is the closeness and contact that matters; in arms carrying is as valuable as using a sling, and the shifting of your growing baby around your body as your muscles tire will help to rebuild your strength and endurance. Sharing the carrying with other members of your family will help to strengthen relationships and reduce the strain on your own body too.

family