In our current society, more products than ever are available to take our newborns out of our arms and into other containers. From the first moments of birth, our babies are taken from our arms. According to Nils Bergman, a doctor specializing in Kangaroo Mother Care, behavior of babies is determined by their environment. As even the full term baby is born biologically immature, with only 25% of final brain size - evolution has removed our ability to release our baby from the mother. The implications of the bucket society are wider than we could ever know, and likely draw direct links to decreased breastfeeding rates, dissociation, stress of the newborn, and a loss of mothering instincts.
we disseminate then that babywearing is appropriate for our biology and
directly effects our survival and outcomes in development, then we must
look to how we wear our babies further effects physiological
development, beyond the buckles and beauty. Evidence of how early humans carried their babies is difficult to find as fibres break down before bones, however we can walk to our museums and look to cultures all over the world
- as well as places where strollers and car seats are not the norm - to
see that infants are carried close to their mothers in many fashions.
Our physiological development is directly affected by how we are carried, worn, and allowed to sleep and feed. Culturally
significant to today is the terms of how we protect the curvature of
the infants lower spine versus the fashionable and increasingly
marketable way. Container syndrome is a definite risk to newborns placed in their infant buckets for prolonged periods, and similarly babywearing products can and do put infants at risk
for not only asphyxiation - but also impaired spinal development,
improper loads on the groins, and decreased circulation to the lower
extremities. When you consider that the safest place for an infant to
be is in it’s mothers arms, but the reality is that mothers need to be
able to walk, bend, sit, stand, and tend to the needs of others - it is a
reality that a device to wear her baby is important and the
implications go beyond the fashion.
With the upheaval in the babywearing community relating to the product
recall of the Infantino Sling, and widespread notoriety of “the bag of
death”, the safety implications of babywearing is obvious. Many major retailers carry (and still have Infantino
products) many varieties of devices designed to carry our babies. As
do boutiques, Etsy, second hand stores and baby sales, your neighbor -
and many times other mothers. To the parent who is beginning to
discover a plethora of products. How do parents select a product?
so many products on the market, babywearing aficionados have merged the
science, the practice, and the product. Babywearing education -
specifically, a trained individual who has expertise on all of the
important points on how to purchase, how to wear, and the “why”. The
educator works with the family, works in the community, and can work
with health care professionals to promote the practice.
The practice of babywearing itself in North America and European countries today is hampered by an influx of carriers which are complex, may promote wearing baby in physiologically damaging positions,
and with mass production and poor construction - may be putting our
babies into compromised situations. The term “forward-facing out” - if
you consider the research of Nils Bergman - does not keep with allowing
for cues to the mother for when infants need to breastfeed, or for the
bio-social development of the infant brain. Also to be considered is
harness regulations in the workplace for adults - suspension trauma
is a serious incident and could cause fainting, re-circulation
syndromes, and orthostatic intolerance. Despite this, many carriers
exist on the market which look like a harness.
positioning is known to affect our babies, but one can draw much
conclusion to the effect it has on the mother or other parent carrying
their baby. For
our own spinal health, we are instructed on how to properly carry heavy
loads. Also to be considered, women after childbirth have weakened
Combine poor positioning with the improper carrier, and the normal,
physiological practice of babywearing - becomes one without safety and
issues are the basis of any babywearing education training programs.
The normal, physiologically and evolutionary way is to hold our babies
close, between our breasts - yet our culture, our roles as women, and
our instinct all collide to complicate what should be natural and
available to all.
Credits to the Canadian Babywearing School, Arie Brentnall-Compton and Kelly Drury-Laffin
CBC radio - Spark (podcast, May 2011)