Friday, June 4, 2010

I love Babywearing

Three years ago, I had my first anthropological taste of a trend known in the western world as Babywearing. I was in the Bush of West Africa--the Gambia Republic to be exact. Walking down the street along a swampy rice field, I noticed something unusual about the women workers. Something was strapped on their backs. Something wiggly.

"What is that?" I wondered.

Then I got a closer look.

"They're babies!"

Teeny Tiny babies securely fastened in vernacular style fabrics, with only their heads exposed, out in the fields working with their Mamas.

"How cute!" I thought.

It was only a few short days into the 4 month long trip that I realized this was a normal part of family life for Mothers and babies. I fell in love!

The earthiness and the intimacy of this African tradition was alluring. I prayed that the Lord would let me carry little ones in a similar fashion. And today I do!

My sweet little Aviel spends time every day in our wrap. We walk around Jersualem, visiting friends, shopping in the shuk, or just getting outside for some fresh air together. We wrap up and do art projects, make pies, or dance around the house. Sometimes his Abba wraps him up too!

As I've researched, I've found out that babywearing isn't just a passing trend, but there are real benefits to keeping my baby so close. According to Dr. Sears, being near to her baby inspires the release of two hormones, Prolactin and Oxytocin, in the mother. When these "mothering-hormones" are high, mothering becomes easier, more natural and more intuitive. Sears says these hormones act as a "biological booster shot that helps her give her baby the quality and quantity" care the baby needs. They also help to fight off postpartum depression, and keep her milk supply high. They only last about twenty minutes, so adopting a parenting style the keeps the baby close helps to keep the hormones flowing at a regular rate.

Babywearing also enhances baby's ability to learn. From my own experience, this is obvious! Aviel sits at eye level and watches me mix paint colors. He sees blue and yellow turn into green, and he sees strips of paper turn into patterns and shapes. He is storing up patterns of behavior that he absorbs from being with me. Research indicates that wearing babies increases their communication skills. The baby is positioned high on the mother, at eye and voice level, thus taking in body language, facial expressions, and speech patterns that he will later try to mimic.

Babies in slings and wraps are also known to cry less, and grow more. When energy is diverted from crying, it is put into growing. The motion of the mother's walk, familiar to the baby from the womb, helps to settle a fussy baby, and somehow helps regulate a babies breathing and other biological systems. Babies who are physically close to their mothers are also fed more frequently, which causes a more regular release of growth hormones.

Wraps and slings can also be a great fashion accessory and a great conversation starter! Its especially fun when I go out with my amazing Jerusalem friends, and we all have our babies in wraps! There are many different styles, colors, and patterns to chose from. My own wrap is similar to a Moby. It was a sweet hand-me-down from a close friend who "wore" her first baby, but was unable to "wear" her second do to paralysis from a routine epidural during the birth. She is always so blessed to see Aviel wrapped up on me. I love that it brings joy and healing to her heart!

The benefits of such a natural, earthy way of parenting causes me to reflect on 2 Corinthians 4:7

7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;


Sometimes the most natural, instinctual way of doing something is the most supernatural of all. God created this amazing system of interaction between a mother and her baby that is mutually beneficial to health and emotions of both. Why not embrace it and be close?

I love babywearing.


My first lesson in baby wearing in Africa



Aviel at 2 months in his wrap at a bus stop in Jerusalem



**Of course, always exercise caution with babywearing. Be careful to make sure the baby is positioned well for breathing, and does not overheat on hot days. Also don't trust it too much! We don't want anyone to fall out! Be careful when bending over and watch out around doors!

Source Cited:
The Baby Book by William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN pp. 300-311

Resources:
My sister has some instructions on how to make your own here.
Dr. Sears has further info on the benefits of Baby Wearing here.

Related Posts:
When to Start Your Family
Start Your Family
Fill the Earth