Babywearing—heaven or hell?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 07-28-2013, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, everyone! I'm expecting a baby girl in November. I turned down an incredible job (working on a political campaign in leadership) so that I can be home with my girl, make her comfortable, form trustful bonds, and otherwise help start her transition from being a "scared newborn" into eventually an independent and happy adult!

I have always pictured myself as being a "babywearer." I see myself as a mom who will want to keep my newborn and near-toddler close by at all times. My husband seems to feel that way, too; he was ecstatic when I presented him with an Ergo for Father's Day! I'm looking into sling options for home that aren't harmful for the baby. Any recommendations on an easy-to-use sling (Mobys look so complicated!) that won't put the poor girl in a bad spinal position?

One thing that makes me feel good about my wish to wear my baby as often as I can is that I am an avid reader of Dr. Harvey Karp, who I think has a great theory about the first three months of a baby's life (from the due date) being a sort of "fourth trimester," that as parents we should work to simulate the womb during that time through movement/noise/etc. as the newborn acclimates to life "outside." He does advocate babywearing as a way to help the baby feel comfortable! After all, babies go up and down stairs with us, roll over with us, dance with us, etc., while they're strapped in there before birth =)

I mentioned this to my mother, who raised us very differently, and she gently warned that it can raise stress levels and that if your muscles in your arms/back aren't trained to hold a child almost constantly that it could be a problem. I see what she is saying, but I'd like to know if anyone has had an experience with such a thing? I haven't been exercising much through pregnancy (overheating is the only thing that makes me queasy, save for a few smells), so I fear that I may be far behind in preparation in that aspect?

Any advice? Experiences? Etc.?

PS, I'm still unsure about how I feel about true co-sleeping; I plan on keeping baby close by for the first couple of weeks, at least, until she feels more comfortable sleeping through the night. My husband and I love white noise to lull us to sleep, so that is definitely in our plan to help out. I will make myself accessible, however, for when she does need me.
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#2 of 15 Old 07-28-2013, 09:41 PM
 
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I found babywearing my infants to be incredibly enjoyable.  A well-wrapped baby is comfortable to carry.  I was shy of Moby-style wraps at first, but my favorite newborn carrier is just that.  It's a homemade one so the fabric content is different.  It has a high percentage of spandex in it so it holds the baby closer than a Moby.

 

It can be stressful on the body, I won't deny that.  But it's so much easier than holding them in your arms.  And if you're lucky like I was and you're given a child that wants to be held ALL THE TIME, well, a carrier is your best bet.  Knowing several different carries helps to alleviate the stress of tired muscles.  When I would use a woven carrier for back carries I would switch between tying around my waist to a Tibetan carry and that would help a lot.

 

Best of luck!


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#3 of 15 Old 07-28-2013, 11:14 PM
 
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Are you used to carrying a large purse or a one shouldered bag because a ring sling is fairly similar and most SSC's and Mei tai's distribute weight like a backpack so if you are used to carrying any sort of weight it's similar but if a particular carry hurts try another and make sure they're high and tight because if they're too low it can pull. If you wear them when they're brand new your body gets used to the weight and they're a little less than pregnancy weight when you start it's not like you are starting with a 30 lbs toddler.

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#4 of 15 Old 07-29-2013, 12:29 AM
 
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Yes, baby wearing can put strain on your back and shoulders but a good carrier and careful attention to adjusting it properly *every singe time* is a big help. Is my upper back sore at the end of most days? Yes. But it's still easier than any of the alternatives for me.

I personally prefer an SSC both for comfort and ease of use. I didn't like the ergo but love the Beco Gemimi. We didn't discover it until our first was about 5-6months old but I used it with my second from when she was a few days old.

Also regarding your last comments about co-sleeping. You may be fortunate enough to get a baby who sleeps through the night after a couple of weeks but that is pretty unusual. Whether you choose to bed-share ultimately or not, I would be prepared for some night waking for at least the first year and possibly longer. My first daughter only started sleeping all night when I night-weaned her a few weeks ago, aged 3 years and 2 months. And I don't think we are that unusual.

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#5 of 15 Old 07-29-2013, 10:39 AM
 
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Just remember to be flexible and do what works for you and the baby. Theories are great, and I'm a big proponent of babywearing, but it's a tool like anything else.

 

I agree that newborns are quite light, so if you start off wearing your newborn frequently your body will adjust and strengthen to weight increases. I hate slings because they put weight on one shoulder, and that hurts me. However, some people swear by slings and love their in-and-out capabilities. I'm a big fan of the Mei Tai style carriers because they distribute weight evenly, and most SSCs are of a similar style. Do what works for you, and be prepared to change on the fly.

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#6 of 15 Old 07-29-2013, 10:48 AM
 
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It can cause problems, and it can be easy to ignore a little pain because you're taking care of your baby. It's important to pay attention, to make sure you have a carrier that fits well and works for you, and to take breaks as you need to. And remember that as the baby grows, your and their needs will change.

 

Babywearing is awesome. Injuries are not. (and you can get injuries from carrying, too) Listen to your body and your family.

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#7 of 15 Old 07-29-2013, 02:17 PM
 
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When I started babywearing my son 8 years ago I did have a lot of problems. However, I already have pain in my body for various reasons and the sling I started with didn't help. The books I'd read only recommended a ring sling which I wouldn't use again due to the uneven weight distribution. Now I'm pregnant again I intend to go to Sling Meets and try out dome different ones to find something that works better for me. I have to be realistic, so I did have a pushchair and used it regularly along with the slings, particularly once he was sleeping as he got older as they become like a dead weight. Having said said, some of my fitter more athletic friends always wore their babies/toddlers with no problems. Even I carried on using my sling regularly until my son was about 3. My Ergo was invaluable for managing cooking with a toddler!

 

I never planned to co-sleep but ended up doing so and now I'm expecting my second I will co-sleep from the beginning. As someone else said, you'd be blessed indeed to have a baby who was sleeping through after a couple of weeks. My 8 year old still wakes most nights! (although I'm not sure we're supposed to say things like that to people expecting their first... wink1.gif )

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#8 of 15 Old 07-29-2013, 06:35 PM
 
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Baby-wearing is life saving! Moby's definitely have a learning curve but I highly recommend them for the newborn stage. If you can work on a political campaign, you can figure out a moby, I promise ;)

As long as you're not using a non-ergonomic carrier, any supportive carrier should not hurt your back. A non-ergonomic one would be like a bjorn or a snugli type. I have a very bad back and my ergo, ring sling, moby wrap, and woven wraps never aggravate it.
 


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#9 of 15 Old 07-29-2013, 06:37 PM
 
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By the way, a sidecarred crib is a good option if you don't want her in bed with you (although it just may end up that way)...my 8 month old does not sleep through the night. If you're planning to breastfeed, it's best to keep your baby near you and feed them when they wake, and not try to put them on any kind of schedule.

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#10 of 15 Old 07-29-2013, 07:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electricalaskan View Post

Hi, everyone! I'm expecting a baby girl in November. I turned down an incredible job (working on a political campaign in leadership) so that I can be home with my girl, make her comfortable, form trustful bonds, and otherwise help start her transition from being a "scared newborn" into eventually an independent and happy adult!

I have always pictured myself as being a "babywearer." I see myself as a mom who will want to keep my newborn and near-toddler close by at all times. My husband seems to feel that way, too; he was ecstatic when I presented him with an Ergo for Father's Day! I'm looking into sling options for home that aren't harmful for the baby. Any recommendations on an easy-to-use sling (Mobys look so complicated!) that won't put the poor girl in a bad spinal position?

One thing that makes me feel good about my wish to wear my baby as often as I can is that I am an avid reader of Dr. Harvey Karp, who I think has a great theory about the first three months of a baby's life (from the due date) being a sort of "fourth trimester," that as parents we should work to simulate the womb during that time through movement/noise/etc. as the newborn acclimates to life "outside." He does advocate babywearing as a way to help the baby feel comfortable! After all, babies go up and down stairs with us, roll over with us, dance with us, etc., while they're strapped in there before birth =)

I mentioned this to my mother, who raised us very differently, and she gently warned that it can raise stress levels and that if your muscles in your arms/back aren't trained to hold a child almost constantly that it could be a problem. I see what she is saying, but I'd like to know if anyone has had an experience with such a thing? I haven't been exercising much through pregnancy (overheating is the only thing that makes me queasy, save for a few smells), so I fear that I may be far behind in preparation in that aspect?


PS, I'm still unsure about how I feel about true co-sleeping; I plan on keeping baby close by for the first couple of weeks, at least, until she feels more comfortable sleeping through the night. My husband and I love white noise to lull us to sleep, so that is definitely in our plan to help out. I will make myself accessible, however, for when she does need me.

Your body will adjust, much like it adjusts to carrying extra weight in the belly while pregnant.  My mother always told me that if you carry your kids every day, they will never be too heavy to carry - and she was not a baby wearing mama!  My DD is 20mos and about 35lbs and let me tell you, I've never been to a gym in my life and while I was always athletic, I have got some biceps of steel right now just from lifting my child lol!  I liked my moby for the newborn phase although I didn't have my ring sling until she was about 5mos and I think I would have loved that as much then as I do now.  I do go to a chiropractor regularly though (DD has also been going since she was 6wks) and it helps tremendously with keeping issues at bay.  With the sling you sometimes have to swap sides to get an even "wear" on the shoulders, although its more an issue with older/heavier kiddos. 

 

As for co-sleeping, I had bought one of those summer infant things that sit on the bed that was supposed to go between DH and I.....it lasted all of an hour before she was out could tucked into my arm on the bed.  She really responded to the body heat of being close to me and that "bed" was not warm no matter how many blankets or how high the heat (she was a Nov baby).  She was all about momma, and at that point I was all about getting some sleep and NOT having to get up to feed her. Afterall, part of the convenience factor of breastfeeding is that ability to roll over half asleep, whip out a boob and fall right back asleep with baby ;-)  Now DH did choose to camp out on the couch those first 3 mos bc he's a heavy sleeper and didn't feel comfortable with her being so close, and at 3 mos she was happy to sleep in her crib.  She comes back to bed with me if she's teething or under the weather as she will frequently nurse, but she moves too much for me now and I always end up with a rear in my face a foot down my throat.

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#11 of 15 Old 07-31-2013, 07:05 PM
 
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I am a Feldenkrais Practitioner (movement scientist)  and Continuum Concept Consultant.  My lower back was killing me when I first called Jean Liedloff, author of  The Continuum Concept.  Our ds was 4.5 months old.  She would hear NO excuses.  I instruct parents it is mostly a matter of proper weight distribution.  In some cases, carrying baby eliminates all pain!  Weight of the baby is not as important as one might think.   Ours was a BIG baby by 4.5 mos. and weighing 30 lbs. at just 11 months!  (My frame is/was small, 110 lb. 5'6").
The Ergo sling is not ideal by my standards since it morphed from the original one I gave the founder to start her baby sling business (ErgoBaby).  But, it's still good.  I went through 9 slings before finding one that was convenient and anatomically sound for all activities.  It is not sold anywhere, to MY knowledge.  I also suggest parents use a couple different slings to shift the areas of stress on the skeleton, esp. include the side sling.

 

After about 13 mos. I hardly needed a sling as he liked to walk, except when he needed a place to sleep or rest when we were out.     

Ideally baby is attached to someone's body 24/7 from birth until they can creep and crawl on their on.  Then, THEY DO NOT WANT to be carried much after that because their security needs were met during the most optimal developmental stage.  And, it is easiest to keep them in contact while they're light weight. 

There are unmatched benefits if a parent follows a few basic, yet simple principles.  A few benefits are:  Freedom for the parents due to the child's enormous inner security and self reliance, very little crying or fussing; your child will not be demanding as she matures, no tantrums, no terrible 2's, 3's . . . and the teen years are truly a joy.  The relationship is easier for you both, forever.  It is beautiful that you feel the desire and practicality to carry your baby.  YES!  Keep in mind you are bone building so this joyous weight on your skeleton is super healthy.  You'll get very strong and lose pregnancy weight.  Also, you can go places with your baby you never thought possible.  I am working with a Dr. (surgeon) who is doing T. Cont. Concept and she reports that she taught her medical class for 6 hours with her baby in the sling.  Yeah, her students loved to see THAT.  But this is how is 'should be' and can be!

 

Keep in mind, the human species could not have survived without our infants attached until they crawled.  Some mothers claim, "My baby hates the sling."  That could be funny if it were not so tragic.  There are a number of reasons for this and each case is individual.  Fear not.  Your body will adjust.  If you run into a snag, see a very good Feldenkrais Practitioner in your area.  Contact me and I can find one in your area.

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#12 of 15 Old 08-04-2013, 12:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am so appreciative of all the responses and experiences! I now feel so much better about my choice. I have been trying on slings/wraps at various venues as I start my serious search for baby items at a serious level.

I am glad to hear that my body will adjust. I do like visiting the chiropractor and am excited to resume visits after delivery!!!
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#13 of 15 Old 08-05-2013, 07:52 AM
 
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Does your chiro not do adjustments while you're pregnant?  I ran into that issue with my last chiropractor who also did acupuncture and he wouldn't touch me while pregnant, not because he didn't feel it was a good thing to do, but because it just wasn't his specialty and he was uncomfortable, especially with the acupuncture part.  I WISH I had found someone immediately to continue through my pregnancy as I ended up with my lower back quickly falling into bad habits (mild scoliosis) and woke up the morning my water broke with a pinched nerve and it made my labor miserable.  Although literally 3 seconds after I pushed DD out, the room echoed with a huge *pop* as my back released and I wanted to cry from joy it felt so good!!  I'm happy that my current chiropractor will continue to see me through any subsequent pregnancies plus she specializes in babies so I can bring them as soon as I want afterwards.  Something to think about!

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#14 of 15 Old 08-05-2013, 12:06 PM
 
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I felt unsure about all of those things too.  Let me tell you what--once I actually did them, I couldn't believe how natural and right they feel.  There are always "cons", but I don't even look at them that way--that's a choice.  I can focus on the idea of not getting uninterrupted sleep, or occasionally having a lot to carry along with my baby, but in the end, these opportunities to be close to my baby are nothing I would ever trade for a little extra comfort, esp since it is such a short amount of time that you get to do these things.  Think about it...for as many years as you are on this earth, you'll only have a few to carry and sleep with your child.

 

Before my baby was born, even though I wanted us to be as natural as possible, a part of me was hoping my baby would self-wean at 6 months.  Now a part of me hopes he goes the full 7 years if he wants.  I guess we'll see what he decides, as long as I have that balance of nurturing and encouraging, and letting him be.

 

Follow your instincts and stick with what you know and feel, and you'll be all good.

 

Be well.
 

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#15 of 15 Old 08-05-2013, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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@sassyfirechick - I live in Alaska, so my healthcare options are a tad limited =) We do have providers up here who do see newborns; at least, there was a terrific one in Fairbanks. I now live a day's trip away from Fairbanks so that one is not an option for me anymore =( So far this pregnancy my back has been doing okay, and I am one who suffers from a bad back typically, so I am fairly relieved that it is going so well at this point.

 

@elitegoddess - Thank you! What works for some may not work for all, and I am glad to hear other moms echo the sentiment that one just needs to follow instincts. =)
 

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