Parenting is so very hard.
The guilt is real. We know this.
Even harder is being a new parent. Before that impending bump emerges into the world, the only way some of us feel we have any control is to gather all the information we can, to prepare for every eventuality that might occur.
How much information is too much?
Should we listen to others and the information they have to share? Perhaps we are best following our own instincts and ignoring other people's opinions.Either way there is one area where information is rife, and sometimes 'advice' is given when you didn't even ask! Carrying your baby in a sling. We have all been in that situation when we want to try something new that involves our child, we feel that we must read up on everything we can but then ultimately feel more confused than we did to begin with. First of all there are the recommendations of slings that people love and say are 'the best' and you should buy one, as it will be 'all you need'. Then the more experienced baby wearers will ensure you have links to all the safety information and instruction videos you could want or need. This can be equally as helpful as it is deterring. For a new parent it can be all too much and actually make us feel scared to take the supposed 'risks'. Some of these 'risks' are complete misinterpretations and the fundamentals of safety while carrying your child seem to have gotten lost in a sort of blurry, sleep-deprived game of Chinese Whispers.
Using Slings in day-to-day life
Slings are not about joining an elitist club of 'perfect baby wearers' or never using another way of transporting your baby, it is about enabling us to have some sense of freedom that was lost to us, as soon as we heard that first cry. To give parents back their hands and their sanity when, despite all other distractions, we just need to put on some washing!
Versatility of Slings
Slings are a tool, that can indirectly satisfy a child's need when the parent's attention is needed elsewhere and it would be wonderful if we can move away from the stigma that surrounds them, and those who use them, in public and on social media. If we raise awareness and make a point of educating ourselves around the safe ways to use the different types of slings, then they can be a low cost tool that can end up making a huge difference!
History of Carrying Children
Slings themselves have come on their own journey.For as long as the human race has existed we have been carrying our children. It was only around 200 years ago in Europe when the class system was at it's peak, that relationships between children and their parents began to become more distanced. The upper class favoured the stroller, as made famous by Queen Victoria and carrying was considered to be lower class and it became a lesser chosen option for new parents.
Recently with the emphasis on the whole child approach to raising children, babywearing has been brought back to the forefront of our parenting methods
These days, parents place a lot of their confidence in scientific evidence. Whether it be a car seat, a cot or sling, we want to know the potential risks before we expose our children.
This is very sensible but sometimes other parents do not hesitate to question if you have even considered these risks and as a new parents this doubt can lead to lack of self confidence and avoidance of using the product or item altogether. Meaning that the parent misses out on the opportunity to benefit from such a helpful parenting tool.
Babywearing in Public
The sling community can be a wonderful place. It encourages social interaction and can develop new parenting relationships. Being an ideal commonplace to support each other and share our good times and those that are not so good, which is vital in helping those who may suffer in silence with mental health issues.The act of carrying your child itself can also improve your mental health state. We need to be mindful of the vulnerability of new parents and making them feel unnecessarily inadequate about how they carry their child is a dangerous thing. We must assess what is truly important when trying to 'help' each other. Dr Rosie Knowles shows this wonderfully in her info graphic below:
I can be fairly certain that if you use slings and are on social media, you have either been witness to or yourself a victim of ridicule and trolling. Whether it be about how your baby is positioned or the type of carrier you choose to use, you can sometimes be made to feel quite terrible about wearing your child, intentionally or not.Tone of voice is hard to convey through written text and many people don't realise how they come across and end up causing offence or humiliation. Others intentionally like to feel they can 'educate' you through their own experience and knowledge, which in itself can be dangerous if their information sources are not reputable or accurate.
There are those who believe that non-ergonomic slings are 'bad' for you and your baby, when in fact when used correctly pose no more than the same risks that all slings do. Ergonomic means exactly that. That the style of the sling is designed to ergonomically distribute the child's weight around your body to minimise discomfort.
Obtaining the upmost comfort and positioning that we can with the carrier we have is about enabling parents.
It's not about doing it perfectly, its being able to do it at all, as long as the fundamental safety and environmental factors are considered.
We should be celebrating with these parents that they may have just managed to leave the house for the first time or that their baby has slept for longer than 15 minutes!
Paying attention to safety that the sling is fit for purpose and use then all types of carriers can be useful.
Look, they are happy, safe and winning for today!
Social media is often a parent's link to the outside world, which is why we are probably suffering more post natal mental health issues than ever before. It's far to easy to ask in a sling group than to get yourself to a sling library for help with your sling. Thousands of people at your fingertips, at any time of day.
It's all too easy.
However, it can be a wonderful platform to share triumphs and information and to support each other in gaining confidence and skills. Congratulating someone else does not take away your own achievements.