So we’re looking at ways you can make babywearing work better for you, if you are having discomfort or you’re just not “getting it.” In part 1 of this post, I gave you two strategies: adjust your baby carrier, and adjust your posture. But there is something else you can do to make babywearing work better for you, and it’s this:
Outsource your babywearing
We did not evolve to look after our babies alone by ourselves all day long, and it’s no wonder that many new mums find it exhausting.
Now you may have read a lot of stuff about the benefits of babywearing for the baby, and so you’re feeling a lot of pressure, like the burden is all on you to provide those benefits. But it doesn’t have to be just you. The baby will receive the benefits regardless of who is carrying him or her.
It’s not the biological norm for a single caregiver to be carrying and holding their baby all hours of the day. In traditional communities, what you would be more likely to see is women and men, both young and old, taking turns to carry babies throughout the day. Whereas in our sedentary and isolated society, it’s likely that the first baby a woman carries for any length of time is her own, and she goes very abruptly from the stage of life of “no baby” to “all baby, all the time”! So she hasn’t had the practice, she doesn’t have the stamina or experience, and most importantly, she doesn’t have the support.
If you push yourself beyond what your body is wired to do, you will naturally feel exhausted and uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean that you’re weak, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you. And I don’t think that the solution is for you to do strength training or to just power through it.
It’s normal for newborn mothers to need a period of healing and recovery after birth. You are a powerful woman and you have the strength to carry your baby – just not 24-7.
I believe that the ultimate solution to babywearing fatigue is to share the babywearing among many arms. And this leads us back to the premise which is at the core of Peaceful Postnatal: create intentional village.
So think about the people who you’re comfortable asking to hold your baby. And by the way, they don’t necessarily have to wear your baby. A lot of times people might say, oh it just looks so uncomfortable or I’m worried I won’t do it properly. It can be a bit of a learning curve. But they don’t have to wear your baby; they can just hold your baby in their arms for half an hour in a way that feels comfortable for them.
If you have three or four of these people that you’re just having brief encounters with every day, you can start to think of them as your village. So maybe your mum stops by and you say, can you just take the baby and hold her for half an hour. Or you start going to a small local cafe, and get comfortable enough to hand off your baby to the other regulars for 10-20 minutes at a time. Or you intentionally cultivate friendships with your neighbours, so that you start to feel comfortable just popping over when your arms or back need a break.
So that is how the village supports the babywearing mother. And this can be a reciprocal thing. So as we encounter other parents along different stages of the parenting timeline, you might have a newborn, and you might know a lot of mums with slightly older children and they’re happy to cuddle your newborn and take the load off. In a few months you’re going to be that person. Or maybe you’re going to be the person who’s carrying someone else’s toddler while she’s carrying her baby.
So don’t think that you have to find all these people to hold your baby, as if you’re just taking and they’re just giving. It’s a reciprocal arrangement. And the connections you make now, to ensure that you’re thriving as a new mother, are the foundation for a village of support which may last you a lifetime.
So don’t give up on babywearing. Just outsource it – at least for a few minutes a day.