Being a baby is easy, right? Eat, sleep, poo. Everything done for you. Just lie back and relax! Sounds perfect to us!
So why do newborn babies cry so much? Are they ungrateful? Manipulating you? Trying to make your life difficult?
And why is babywearing the answer?
One of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite books reads like this:
Okay, so you can’t exactly climb inside a baby’s skin, and babies don’t walk. But the point of this quote is that we need to stop and think about what life is really like from a baby’s perspective.
Basically, life is perfect. There’s a reason why so many babies go overdue… the womb is the ideal environment for a tiny baby!
It’s dark, sounds are muffled. The temperature is a beautifully balmy 37 degrees, the bed is soft, and the food never stops (thanks umbilical cord!). The main variety in everyday is hearing and feeling the different things mum does (those movements are so soothing), and tasting a variety of foods through the amniotic fluid. But most things are always the same… mum is always there, along with her breathing and her heartbeat.
Basically, life sucks. You’re used to this calm, happy environment where you all of your meets are met immediately, and then you’re suddenly thrust into a whole different world.
It’s cold, the blankets are scratchy, you have to figure out how to poop for the first time ever. The lights overhead are super bright and they hurt your eyes! You can hear mummy’s voice more clearly than ever before, but you can also hear other things you’ve never heard before and it’s all a bit scary.
Even worse – you have this funny feeling in your tummy you’ve never felt before and your mouth is getting dry. You’re hungry nearly all the time.
And you keep getting left alone. In a cot, in the car, in a pram. You aren’t sure where mummy is – she should be there with you, right? But you can’t feel her, hear her, or smell her for the first time in your life.
So you cry and cry and hope that she’ll come, so that you can relax into her warmth and know that everything is okay.
This is where the concept of the fourth trimester is very useful. Although babies spend three trimesters in the womb, they aren’t magically ready for life on the outside once their born. They’re still the same baby they were when they were on the inside, and they need time to transition.
The Fourth Trimester can help parents to be more realistic about their baby’s needs and behaviour.
You should also remember that mums are adjusting during this period as well. After all, you’ve had this tiny person inside of you for nearly a whole year, and are going through plenty of hormonal changes too. Be gentle with yourself as well as your baby.
I can remember in those early days of confusion and sleep-deprivation… I would sleep holding a pillow (and couldn’t sleep without it), and when I woke up, I would be convinced I was holding or feeding my baby, even though it was the pillow!
The point is that during those first few months, keeping baby close is the most normal and natural thing for both the mother and baby.
For me, babywearing enabled me to meet my newborn’s needs and my own all at the same time.
My baby needed to be held close and upright, with his knees tucked up (sooo much gas!). He needed lots of sleep, but struggled to drift off unless he was being held and moved about. He fed constantly and I needed to be able to respond to his cues very early on. He could keep his temperature constant while held on my chest and skin. Sounds and lights were muffled and dulled in the baby carrier. He could hear, feel, and smell me and knew that I was close.
I needed to relax into my new role as a mother. I was still twitchy about keeping my house in order and trying to look a bit put together (I’m much more relaxed in these areas now!). Babywearing meant that I could calmly do what I needed to, and know that my baby was calm, happy, and safe. I needed to feel “normal” again and get out of the house as often as possible. Babywearing helped me to do this without feeling anxious about my baby crying or fussing.
I honestly think the fourth trimester would have been a hundred times harder on both myself and my baby without babywearing.
If you’re a parent with a newborn, or are expecting a baby soon, please let me encourage you to consider babywearing as a tool for those early days. I’d even suggest bringing a newborn-friendly carrier in your hospital bag if you’re likely to be staying more than a day or so. It will be one of the best investments you can make as a parent to a small person!
When you think about life from your new baby’s experience, babywearing is not just a luxury – it’s a need.
Happy squishy wearing!
Copyright Brooke Maree © 2017
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I thought it was time to talk about shopping while babywearing. After all, it’s a bit of a different experience than shopping with a pram ;-).