Sunday, October 03, 2010

What started as a solution for newborn reflux has become a mission for me!

Lily in a KKAFP at the top of the Space Needle

Recently there have been a lot of negative stories in the news about baby carriers and wearing babies in them. The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance has been created to help this industry maintain the highest safety standards and to make sure that CORRECT information is out there for parents to read regarding the safety and effectiveness of the art of babywearing. There are a number of factors that have lead up to the need for this, but the fact is that for parents this can be a sanity saving tool, and for babies it can be essential to their development both physically, emotionally, and mentally.

I posted my story on their website to help add to the positive information and support their efforts. I am a member of the alliance at the friend supporting level, and I encourage you if you can spare the $25 a year, to do so as well. We can't let the CPSC mandate away our right to parent how we see fit.
In 2001 my first son was born and very soon after diagnosed with GERD. One of the recommendations of our pediatrician was to keep him upright for 30-45 minutes after each time he ate. Given that he was exclusively breastfed this meant he was in arms either eating or being kept upright nearly one out of every 2-3 hours. Often it was more rare for him to be out of someone's arms than in them. 
This was a huge amount of time commitment from both my husband and I that we were not really prepared for being new parents and thinking as we did then that babies actually slept in a crib! Silly us!
Seeking help we attended an Attachment Parenting International meeting on a Saturday morning. Once there we saw many parents, moms and dads, with their babies in soft carriers called slings. Not at all like the front pack we were given at our baby shower, these slings were much more like holding your baby than strapping him on the front of you! I liked the idea very much, and my husband seeing all the dads hands free and yet still holding their children was very excited to try out this solution to our tired aching arms. So excited in fact, that the next day he went to a local used children's clothing store and bought a 2nd hand padded "heart to heart" ring sling. 
That single purchase changed our world, nearly as much as becoming parents had. That sounds a bit dramatic, but in truth it really did make our lives vastly different over night. I was now able to work throughout the house without having to put my child down and listen to his cries, or try to do things one handed and failing miserably. My husband could work at his computer with BOTH hands and still help me keep our wee one in a position that allowed him to digest his food and not be in pain.
I continued to attend the API meeting and also started regular attendance at 2 different La Leche League meetings and found more families that had embraced the "art of babywearing". I also met Darien Wilson, creator of Zolowear Ring Slings and learned so much more about how to use this wonderful piece of baby gear.
After the birth of my 2nd son in 2003 I found out how indispensable a good baby carrier can be when mothering more than one child. Being able to keep my baby close and still mother my toddler with my full attention was a beautiful thing. I especially found the value in being able to wear both of my children on my body when I was the only parent available. My husband's job had him traveling out of state at pretty frequent intervals and needing to single parent made my sling even more useful. 
By the time my daughter arrived in 2005 I had become a very vocal advocate of babywearing and the carriers made both my work at home moms and by larger companies. Carriers like the Maya Wrap, the New Native Pouch, the Zolowear ring sling, and the Kanagroo Korner Adjustable Fleece Pouch were some of my favorites and became an essential part of my mothering tool kit. Not long after my daughter arrived I joined a babywearing support group called NINO (nine in nine out) and along with other babywearing advocates helped put on the 1st ever International Babywearing Conference at Reed College in Portland, OR. 
I spent the next 2 years as a co-leader of our local babywearing group, and started teaching babywearing techniques the benefits of those techniques at a local birth center and for childbirth educators.
What started off as a solution to a medical issue with my 1st son has become a life long passion that I still advocate for to this day for even now as a birth and postpartum doula I still use my babywearing knowledge to help others learn this wonderful skill. I am a firm believer in the ideals that babywearing supports; loving, in arms care. 
I feel very strongly that if done correctly, babywearing is not only a safe way to care for babies and children, but is an essential part of parenting.

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