My Babywearing Experience

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My Babywearing Experience

Every babywearing experience is unique, from when babywearing begins to the reasons people choose to babywear. Here is the experience and advice from the mother of a premie who was willing to share her story. 

What attracted you to babywearing?

What attracted me to the idea of babywearing was trying to bond with my son after his extended NICU stay. In the NICU, we did skin to skin or kangaroo care, and I wanted to recreate that same feeling with my son when he finally came home.

What did you expect when you first began to babywear?

Honestly, I thought babywearing would give me my hands back so that I could still get things done around the house. I also felt that it would help me restore the bond that I had with my son in the womb, that I felt like I had lost the day he was born and taken immediately to the NICU.

I started babywearing at eight months when my son finally reached the minimum weight limit for his carrier.

How has babywearing affected you and your family?

When my son was born ten weeks early, he had to be rushed to the NICU because he wasn’t breathing for a full thirteen minutes. Week after week, I watched the nurses and doctors care for my son in a way I could not. This experience caused me to feel like I had lost all bonds I had with my son when he was still in my womb. Babywearing has allowed me to finally feel connected to my son when I didn’t feel connected to him at all during his 6.5 week NICU stay. Babywearing helped me cultivate a stronger bond than I could ever have imagined having with him. Babywearing also allowed my husband to connect with our son and feel like a true parent/caregiver in our son’s life since he didn’t have the experience of carrying him throughout my pregnancy.

What did you discover after you started babywearing?

Babywearing brought me closer to my son. We have a bond that no one else has with him. I also learned that we are very reliant on each other. There is a safeness we both feel when my son is cuddled up into my chest while I am doing all the tasks I have to get done.

What advice would you give to someone new to babywearing?

I would say babywear as often and as long as possible. It is the greatest feeling to carry your child and bond with him or her. Babywearing has many benefits, including bonding, helping your child learn to regulate their own body temperature and heartbeat, and it can promote breast milk production. Just choose the right carrying option for you, whether it is a carrier or ring sling.

What parenthood struggles have you faced?

The biggest parenthood struggle I have faced was my micro-preemie baby being born ten weeks early via emergency C-section measuring 26 weeks gestation and weighing only 2lbs 11oz. When he was born, he cried three times and then stopped breathing for thirteen minutes. He was intubated and rushed to the NICU, my husband going with him. Lying on the operating table, not knowing whether or not my son was going to survive was the biggest struggle for me because somehow I felt like it was all my fault. 

Second, watching other people care for my son when I wasn’t allowed to was definitely a struggle. It took a lot of patience and understanding for me to let someone else care for him when I had been nurturing and caring for him during the seven months before he was born. Leaving my son in the NICU every day for the next 6.5 weeks was difficult It’s hard enough being on a different floor of the hospital than my son for the first nine days while I was still recovering from my C-section but going home without my son was torture. 

Breastfeeding was also a struggle for me. It took a long time for my milk to come in, and when it did, it was never enough. My son started out being tube fed, so I exclusively pumped which tore at me. While in the NICU, my son never learned to latch even though we tried and tried. Nothing can prepare you for the guilt that comes when you want to breastfeed, but your body won’t let you when the cards are already stacked against you. Pumping drained me physically and emotionally. By three months I was barely getting an ounce of breastmilk, so I gave it up (but turns out I dried up anyway just a day later). I went full formula and supplemented with the freezer stash I built while my son was in the NICU until he turned ten months old. Now that my son is home one of the biggest parenthood struggles I have faced is realizing that my micro-preemie will develop and grow at his own pace and that I have to throw typical baby milestones out the window. At 11 months old, we now take it one day at a time.

What encouragement would you share with new parents or expecting parents? 

Know that not all things work for all babies. Babies will grow and develop at their own pace. Do what works best for you and your family, not what everyone else thinks you should do. This is your parenting journey, travel it well.