How did I get into babywearing? I suppose it boils down to be being a planner, a reader, an obsessive researcher – while pregnant I devoured books, articles, hungry for “the answer” (or any answer) to perfect parenting. Most things I read mentioned that the baby wouldn’t want to be put down, and so a carrier seemed like a practical investment.
I checked online, having already decided that carrying was something we would do – I knew it would help facilitate breastfeeding, support my mental health, enable me to get stuff done and provide our new arrival with the closeness they would need. At that point I didn’t look in too many places, we’d just got an Amazon Prime subscription and I wanted to make the most of it so headed there and chose a stretchy wrap with great reviews and stuck it on my “baby wishlist”, where my mum bought it for me. I’m wearing it in this picture, just 2 days postpartum. What you don’t see is the frustrated mess I got myself in to trying to tie this incredibly wide and fantastically long piece of fabric in a way that I felt neither my baby, nor my insides (remember, 2 days post partum!) would fall out.
We carried on using this wrap for several weeks, until as part of the endless night feeds I fell into a rabbit hole of Facebook groups. I’d never really been a part of one before, but all of a sudden there was this whole world that opened up to me, of people that had just had babies, were carrying, were breastfeeding, were up at ridiculous-o-clock – and wanted to talk about it! From local parenting group to May 2015 babies, from breastfeeding friendly fashion to a slings sale and trade group.
I’d browse these overnight, and in the morning blearily look at what the links I’d saved or what I’d purchased. We were going on a long European road trip and couldn’t face the prospect of tying the wrap around me in 30 degree plus weather, so I’d seen a meh dai listed for £10 and bought it. Again, I’d had a Google and it had quite good reviews so combining that with what I thought was an irresistible bargain, that’s what we used for the next few months.
It was not an easy time, being a mother to this new tiny human that never slept and fed all the time in a world where no-one I knew had children, everyone was at work all day and I was frustrated that no-one else’s life seemed to have change at all. “But I made a person!”, I’d often cry at my husband who would come in from work and endlessly bounce on a gym ball with the baby in the wrap, “I made a person and he’s not even happy to be here!”. I can’t say that using a sling solved all our problems – he still cried, he still struggled with overnight sleep, he still fed all the time. What the carrier did do was enable me to go places and feel a bit more like myself, just with a baby attached and enabled my husband to do much more of the soothing and naptimes.
What I wished I had had at the time was just a tiny bit more in person guidance, someone who could listen to what I wanted and make suggestions. I also with I had thought more closely about ethics of production, safety and environmental impact (although secondhand works for that!). I feel like although the carriers we had somewhat suited our needs, there were much better, longer lasting and more value for money options out there. It’s why when I saw the opportunity to be able to support and provide information for families in Birmingham, I took it. It’s why sling libraries are for everyone, whether they need sling help or not. Because being a parent is hard, being a new parent is overwhelming and every tool we can add to our kit can be a lifesaver.
[Image description: image shows me a white woman with red hair and glasses on top of my head carrying my newborn son in a black stretchy wrap. I’m sitting on the sofa, smiling at the camera and eating a jacket potato on a plate on a cushion in my lap]