Babywearing for Health

Organic cotton Cuddly Wrap baby carrierBabies love to be carried. A baby carrier is just a simple tool to make baby carrying easy, to make baby carrying become babywearing. When you get babywearing right , it’s about the baby not the baby carrier. The carrier vanishes, and you have your baby attached to you. It feels like holding for you and for your baby. You have a happy baby and two hands free.

In addition to the love and bonding that babywearing encourages, parents have many reasons for choosing to carry their babies.

When parents hear that babywearing can be an important tool in promoting healthy babies, even parents who have not heard of attachment parenting consider how they can make babywearing a part of their lives.


Health

  • Kangaroo care for preemies. Premature babies in particular need closeness even outside the womb. Keeping a baby snug against bare skin is called “kangaroo care.” (3)(4)
  • Less crying. Studies have shown that babies who are carried cry less and that babywearing can effectively be used in colic therapy. (3)
  • Better sleep. Not only is a carried baby happier, but studies show better sleep in carried babies. (1)
  • Good for mothers. Babywearing helps those mothers with or at risk for post partum depression, making overall baby care easier for mother and giving baby more positive interaction. Studies indicate that babywearing can result in more confident parenting. Who doesn’t want to be a more confident parent?


Development

  • Physical development. Touch, skin-to-skin contact, helps all newborn babies make the transition to life outside the womb. This is especially important for preterm (premature) babies. According to Dr. William Sears, touch and movement are a “biological regulator” that helps babies balance their irregular rhythms to the patterns of the adult’s regular rhythms.
  • Emotional development. Babies need to feel attached to you. Some may wonder if holding a baby close all of the time makes a baby more clingy. On the contrary, if they can see and touch you when they want to, they are reassured that you will be there when they need you. They will be more confident as it comes time to explore on their own. A toddler will tell you very clearly when it’s time to get down (and back up).
  • Mental development. A baby who is distressed puts a lot of energy into letting you know. When a baby is busy crying or focusing on what they don’t have, they spend less time observing and learning about their world. A secure baby is quiet and alert, actively curious about whatever you are doing. This stimulation is exactly what babies need for brain development. (5)

It helps to know that babywearing promotes babies’ health. But, a lot of parents choose to wear their babies just because it feels great and keeps babies happy.


Sources for Medical Studies on Babywearing

1. Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648.
2. Tessier R, M Cristo, S Velez, M Giron, JG Ruiz-Palaez, Y Charpak and N Charpak. (1998) Kangaroo mother care and the bonding hypothesis. Pediatrics 102:e17.
3. Barr RG, McMullan SJ, Spiess H, Leduc DG, Yaremko J, Barfield R, Francoeur TE, Hunziker UA. Carrying as colic “therapy”: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. 1991 May;87(5):623-30.
4. Ferber SG, Makhoul IR. (2004) The effect of skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) shortly after birth on the neurobehavioral responses of the term newborn: a randomized, controlled trial. Pediatrics 113(4):858-65.
5. Pelaez-Nogueras M, Field TM, Hossain Z, Pickens J. (1996). Depressed mothers’ touching increases infants’ positive affect and attention in still-face interactions. Child Development, 67, 1780-92.

Throughout March we will offer guides to getting started with some of the basic practices of attachment parenting. This is Babywearing Week with coverage of benefits, products, resources, and personal experiences.

Battle of the Boobs by The Accidental Pharmacist

Can You Inspire banner

Accidental Pharmacist profileBlog to Inspire finalist The Accidental Pharmacist is Kelly Grindrod, a pharmacist. Accidentally. I never made a conscious career decision to push pills for a living. Now, she studies the enigma that is the pharmacist and struggle to be self-directed. She is also a new mommy. Enter the blog – an excuse to procrastinate. Fascinating? No. Endearing? Perhaps.

When I saw Parenting By Nature’s ‘Blog to Inspire’ contest I thought it was cool. The husband and I want to be cloth diapering, breastfeeding, babywearing, natural play parents and I can’t wait to read the stories of practical parenting.

I could write about all four items in my verbose and opinionated fashion but, right now, I want to talk about breastfeeding because almost everyone I talked to before delivery said it was one of the hardest parts of parenthood.

Accidental Pharmacist pregnantFor most of our third trimester our “Princess Pea” had her head stuck firmly under my lower right rib, and on our 35th week we went for an ultrasound to check her position. While waiting for the results, we were pulled aside by the radiologist and told to go straight to Maternity.

As it turned out, I was in labour and The Pea wasn’t doing so hot. Right after they hooked me up to the fetal heart monitor her heart rate dropped and the room filled with nurses and doctors who stripped off my clothes, put needles in my arm and started saying ‘cesarean’. This happened two more times and before I knew it they had flipped me over with my ass in the air and rushed us to an OR.

Unfortunately, when The Pea was pulled out her Apgar score was 2 (very low) and after resuscitation she was taken to the NICU. I, on the other hand, was stitched up and sent to the recovery room to wait for 2 hours. Afterward, I was taken directly to my room.

Alone.

The midwife tried, The Husband tried, and I tried, but it took another 6 hours for me to see our baby.

In that time The Pea was bottlefed 3 times. Thankfully, the midwife managed to get some donor milk from the BC Women’s Milk Bank and The Husband did all the feedings.

Preemie feedingFar from how I imagined it, the first time I was handed The Pea I was also handed a bottle.

Apparently, the doctors’ orders were to bottlefeed every 3 hours because The Pea was premature, had low blood sugar, and needed more than colostrum. Instead of a bottle, we asked for a lactation aid to supplement while breastfeeding but was told it wasn’t a good idea. We tried anyway and it didn’t really work but we’d made our point. The next day a nasogastric tube was inserted for that very purpose.

Here’s the thing – I didn’t feel labour and did nothing more than lay on my back while a team of nurses and doctors did the work. Once the baby was out, more doctors and nurses took her and kept on doing the work. I kinda felt optional.

This was wrong.

And the only way I could prove it was

to get up

every 3 hours

and walk through the maternity ward,

past all the labouring women,

past all the new moms and babies,

past my nurse who told me more than once to go back to bed to rest,

and feed our baby.

So, with the support of the midwife, The Husband, and the NICU nurses, that’s what I did. Even after I was discharged, The Husband and I stayed. Living out of various hospital lounges, we fed our baby every 3 hours and soon the tube was out. We kept on for 7 days and were exhausted, but on that 7th day we took home an entirely breastfed baby.

And she thrived.

Now, I’m a health professional and this experience made little sense to me. I know the “breast is best”, especially for premature babies, and that those same babies have a lower breastfeeding rate.

In my years as a community pharmacist I’ve talked to countless breastfeeding moms. I’ve attended Le Leche League meetings. I’ve read books like Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding. I know the importance of feeding shortly after delivery and not separating mom and baby.

I had a supportive husband and a mom who breastfed all her babies, including twins.

I mean, come on, I even had a midwife.

And we still had a hard time breastfeeding. Through this we learned that not everyone is on board with the boob. However, when the time came we knew what we needed to do and we did it. And would do it again and again because, you know what? The boob rocks and The Pea has some chubby cheeks to prove it.
Nursing baby face

Read about the Blog to Inspire contest and read posts by the rest of the finalists.

Special Needs Babywearing

When you have a baby with special needs, the general advantages of babywearing – issues of development and comfort – are especially important to you.


Premature Babies

Baby carriers hold your baby close where they want to bePhysical Development. Touch, skin-to-skin contact, helps all newborn babies make the transition to life outside the womb. This is especially important for preterm (premature) babies. According to Dr. William Sears, touch and movement are a “biological regulator” that helps babies balance their irregular rhythms to the patterns of the adult’s regular rhythms.

http://www.askdrsears.com/html/5/t051100.asp

Kangaroo care for preemies. Premature babies in particular need closeness even outside the womb. Keeping a baby snug against bare skin is called “kangaroo care.” (1)(3)


Colic

Less crying. Studies have shown that babies who are carried cry less and that babywearing can effectively be used in colic therapy. (2)


Sensory Integration Disorder

Safe haven. If the world around you is very stimulating, this can cause stress in your baby. With the help of the baby carrier, your arms are your baby’s safe haven. Baby feels secure and calm near you. This is especially important for babies who are over-stimulated.

Soothing for baby. Your movement has a calming influence on your baby. Your baby knows and wants the sound of your voice nearby.

Comforted by people not things. As you become expert and your baby carrier becomes just another parenting tool, it is less about the carrier and more about you and your baby. Your baby will be comforted by people not things.


Developmental delays and special needs

Emotional development. Babies need to feel attached to you. Some may wonder if holding a baby close all of the time makes a baby more clingy. On the contrary, if they can see and touch you when they want to, they are reassured that you will be there when they need you. They will be more confident as it comes time to explore on their own. A toddler will tell you very clearly when it’s time to get down (and back up).

Mental development.
A baby who is distressed puts a lot of energy into letting you know. When a baby is busy crying or focusing on what they don’t have, they spend less time observing and learning about their world. A secure baby is quiet and alert, actively curious about whatever you are doing. This stimulation is exactly what babies need for brain development. (4)


Which baby carrier is best for special needs?

Of course, which carrier is best depends on your own baby’s particular needs.

For premature babies (preemies), they might need to be very close to you in kangaroo care. With a Moby Wrap, you might even find that you want to wear it around the house without a shirt. This gives the baby the skin-to-skin contact needed.

For an older baby or toddler, you might find that a structured carrier is best. From talking with the odd customer dealing with these issues, one thing that is usually an advantage is a baby carrier that caregivers can get a child in and out of in a hurry. A structured baby carrier would allow this. A structured carrier would also be the best choice with a big baby because it will provide the most support. Back carrying is generally accomplished successfully with a structured carrier, and parents may like to have this as an option just for more freedom.

For babies with low muscle tone, spinal stress can lead to development of spinal curves. Do no choose a carrier that supports the baby’s weight from the crotch. Choose a carrier that gives the baby full-body support.

Read about more babywearing advantages.

Sources for Medical Studies on Babywearing

  1. Tessier R, M Cristo, S Velez, M Giron, JG Ruiz-Palaez, Y Charpak and N Charpak. (1998) Kangaroo mother care and the bonding hypothesis. Pediatrics 102:e17.
  2. Barr RG, McMullan SJ, Spiess H, Leduc DG, Yaremko J, Barfield R, Francoeur TE, Hunziker UA. Carrying as colic “therapy”: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. 1991 May;87(5):623-30.
  3. Ferber SG, Makhoul IR. (2004) The effect of skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) shortly after birth on the neurobehavioral responses of the term newborn: a randomized, controlled trial. Pediatrics 113(4):858-65.
  4. Pelaez-Nogueras M, Field TM, Hossain Z, Pickens J. (1996). Depressed mothers’ touching increases infants’ positive affect and attention in still-face interactions. Child Development, 67, 1780-92.