A useful skill to help manage the new addition in your life
Babywearing is the age-old practice of parents holding their babies in a carrier or a wrap. This helps parents resume their usual daily routines. For me, I was able to keep active and fit when I first became a new mum and started babywearing. It was also my lifesaving “parenting tool” when I found myself struggling with a baby who did not sleep unless someone was holding him. I learnt that it was quite normal behaviour for a baby, considering that survival is his top priority. Babies don’t know that we will definitely come back to care for them; so crying and clinging on is the only way some of them can feel safe.
As a scientist of the human physiology, I knew that all humans needed to feel safe to thrive. It was only becoming a mother that I truly began to appreciate the survival instinct that is hardwired in all of us. I started to source for a solution – a way to keep him close, held securely so that I could keep up with my new role as a stay-at-home mum. That was when I found the BabywearersWA and Babywearing International website and educated myself on method of safe babywearing.
Babwearing benefits in so many ways
I can hear some of you saying, ” my baby doesn’t want to stay in the wrap/carrier” or “if I babywear, my baby will have a “bad habit” of wanting cuddles all the time.” Granted, babywearing might not be for everyone but it certainly is a necessary skill that benefits most parents. One of the most trusted pediatrician in America, Dr Bill Sears, strongly advocates the benefits of babywearing. The benefits of babywearing is explained clearly in this article on his website. But certainly, there are times when my babies have refused the carrier. So I ensure that all their other needs (ie. a feed, a change, a burp or some moving around for older babies) are met before trying again. That usually does the trick.
Secondly, I can understand it is hard for us to picture what might be in future, right now, with a new baby in our arms. It is all unknown territory ahead. The fear of “creating a baby that wants to be held all the time” can be strong. However, I can say with certainly the little clingy baby (now older) while still loves his cuddles, loves more to explore, climb and run around because that is the innate nature of children. That said, on long walks, his little legs do get tired and he loves to be piggybacked. But I don’t mind that when it happens as it is such a lovely bonding opportunity and a chance for me to burn more calories and make my legs stronger.
Mums often ask me, how I find time to exercise and keep fit. Well, I say, any chance I get.
Four reasons why babywearing can make you an active, fit mum:
- You strengthen muscles in your body when you babywear.
Strength training, also known as weight or resistance training, comes in a few forms. When we babywear and go for a walk or do a squat, we are essentially performing exercise with an added weight, thereby strengthen the muscles involved in those movements. When done consistently, this also assist in building lean body mass, important if one of your goals is weight loss.
- You burn more calories moving when you babywear.
We burn calories at rest, as well as when we move. Put simply, the more effort you use to create a movement, the more calories you burn. Let’s assume we are walking at the same speed in three scenarios. How might you feel (i) when you go for a walk by yourself, (ii) when you walk pushing the pram and (iii) when you walk holding your baby? Most of us would agree walking by ourselves would require the least effort, and pushing a pram (or load) requires a little more while the most effort is need when we walk holding our baby. This means more calories burnt for the same amount of time you invest in going for a walk. If you are short on time on most days, wouldn’t you want to get more done and burn more calories in the same amount of time?
- You could achieve your weight loss goals faster when you babywear.
While losing weight is more dependent on the amount and types of food we eat over a period of time, incorporating exercise into the weight loss plan will help with the process, not to mention the many health benefits that exercise provides. Combining strength training and aerobic exercise will increase your total energy expenditure which is make it easier for you to achieve an energy deficit needed to lose weight while you are following a healthy holistic diet plan.
- Your mental health status may be enhanced when you babywear.
For me, the transition from a working woman to a stay-at-home mum is one that rocked my core. From being someone who accomplished alot in a day to someone who only managed to clean up the kitchen, but have laundry everywhere, washing still in the washing machine, and toys all over the house, I felt inadequate. It was so different to what I use to be in terms of efficiency and that had a very negative impact on my mental health.However, when we babywear, we create the freedom to resume some normalcy of the lifestyle we use to have before children. It allows us to get the household chores done, the shopping done, the cooking done, an exercise session done. Getting things done, as simple as it sounds, helps us feel adequate and capable. The feeling of accomplishment helps with our self-confidence which contributes towards our state of mental health.
Everyone is different – but babywearing is worth a try
I am not suggesting that if you don’t babywear, you can’t juggle motherhood. You certainly can. Every one is different and has different preferences. We create different types of supporting structures within our daily routine to help us manage. But if your transition to motherhood has been rocky for you and you want to feel more in control and more active, why not give babywearing a shot and see if it works for you?