This is where we will feature some of the stories from babywearers who are part of the West Pennine Slings community. This month, we are sharing Anne’s story of babywearing.
When I read Anne’s story, I was struck by how babywearing transformed her ability to parent, right through some pretty mega health challenges. Thank you so much Anne for telling your story so candidly and frankly. If you would like to find out more about Crohn’s Disease click here.
Hi, I’m Anne, i’m a 36 year old mum of two with my third due at the end of the year. I was always keen to babywear with my first child as i loved the idea of closeness and was carried by my mum as a baby.
The biggest challenge to me as a new parent was that i have Crohns disease, which is an incurable bowel disease that causes you a lot of urgency to get to a toilet. This combined with anxiety- based post natal depression left me unable to leave the house alone for over two months in case i couldn’t get to a loo.
With a lot of support from family and friends i started looking into other ways to get out and about without having to worry – baby carriers were the best option as you can fit into a normal cubicle with them.
I started with a Tomy high street carrier, it was brilliant for a small baby, i had my hands free and my baby boy was content but he was growing very fast and at that point my illness decided to add another complication into the mix, severe arthritis, i could no longer use the small clips that held the carrier together, it was starting to dig into my shoulders and I was in pain constantly, a pram wasn’t an option, i didn’t have the grip to hold the handles without attaching a wrist strap and curbs were a no go. I was stuck. So i started researching other carriers.
I came across a Scootababy soft structured carrier, it clips around your waist with a giant arthritis friendly buckle and adjusts with a very simple pull on the shoulder, baby sits on your hip all cuddled up! Freedom again! And the best thing about this one is Daddy loved using it too, brilliant. Time went on, Toby learned to walk very quickly and the carrier was used for emergency carries and i was in treatment so could push the buggy again, we were happy and made the big step to add to our family again.
I was 6 months pregnant with baby no.2 when i went for lunch with a friend and met up with a old colleague of hers who had just had a baby, this beautiful tiny baby girl was snuggled up on her chest in a long piece of fabric (i found out later it was a stretchy wrap) happily eating her lunch and caring for her 2 year old son, i was really impressed and wanted to know more so i got some details and purchased a Joy and Joe stretchy wrap ready for when baby arrived, i got it and started practicing with an Elmo teddy and you tube tutorials.
Birth day came and my stretchy was packed into my hospital bag. I first wrapped Max at 1 day old, in the hospital as i went to get my lunch from the other end of the ward, it was an amazing feeling, this (not so tiny) baby, content, fast asleep and happy curled up where he was safest and a tired but very relaxed happy mummy just enjoying those first moments without having to worry about putting him down to go to the loo or get food.
This time i was ready for the disease flare ups that start at 6 weeks and i had a powerful tool in the battle with depression. I had freedom.
When Max was 4 months old i was told about a group that had started up from the breastfeeding group that had slings and carriers and other babywearing mums and that’s when i was introduced to West Pennine Slings. I tentatively went along not knowing if i would be welcome as i was on too much medication to breastfeed and used formula, i didn’t use cloth nappies and the PND had a good tight hold again. I was welcomed by an amazing group of mums with no judgement just support and understanding, and an utterly overwhelming array of different slings and carriers, it was brilliant, and there was cake! What more could a girl ask for, these ladies became a big part of my life and a friendship and support network was born, as Max grew i decided that the buggy i used with Toby was no good, the arthritis had got worse but he was getting too heavy for the stretchy and too big for the scootababy so i asked about woven wraps, i now had the most incredible resource at my fingertips, i got professional advice and even got to hire some so i could take them home and see if i could do it alone, i loved it so i bought my first woven wrap.
I became more and more involved with the library, the social side was fantastic and i learned so much about different types of carriers.
I started helping out as a volunteer at the start of this year and in May i completed my Peer supporter babywearing advocacy course with the other volunteers from the library, my one woven wrap has turned into a few (read as far too many) and with my 3rd baby due in November i will continue to wear my babies for as long as they want me to. (Even when it’s my now 6 year old who wants a wrap cuddle).