For me, babywearing is something that absolutely helped me get through postnatal depression. When I first used a carrier with our baby Isabelle, she loved it. It was the first time that me and her had something that we could do together that we both enjoyed doing. So here are a bunch of reasons why I think babywearing can help with postnatal depression.
Why Babywearing Might Help with Postnatal Depression
There are many reason why babywearing can help with postnatal depression. But rather than just real off a bunch of things that are purely anecdotal, I’ve also tried to use some research too.
More Freedom, Without Loss of Contact
For us, Isabelle doesn’t nap during the day unless she is either on you, or going for a ride in the car. Having a baby that is that demanding could be incredibly tough. But with the help of a baby carrier, it’s not actually that hard.
When Isabelle is tired, but I really want to cook, then the carrier solves the problem. I will admit, that occasionally I skip the carrier and just hold her, but that’s because she’s still quite a light baby. I’ve become quite excellent at one-handed cooking. I even manage to chop the onions! But what babywearing does here is keep you in contact with your baby. You still get to bond through touch, but you’re also not debilitated with having to hold the baby. This constant touch and forming bond is something that might help with postnatal depression.
Babywearing Promotes Bonding Between the Caregiver and the Infant
It really did work for me. In the early days, there wasn’t a lot that Isabelle liked to do with me. She liked having me bath her, and that was about it. Of course, a lot of this was down to the fact she was breastfed. As such, she was always concerned about her food.
So when we first discovered that Isabelle really enjoyed being in the baby carrier, and more importantly she enjoyed doing it with me, it felt like a little bit of a breakthrough moment. These days me and Isabelle both love it. We’ve ditched the pram since Isabelle was just over two months old and haven’t looked back since.
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I’m taking Isabelle swimming! On my own! • Of course I’ve been swimming with her plenty of times in the past, but always with Rachel. This time it’s just me and Isabelle. I’m a little bit nervous about it. She doesn’t always like getting out and Rachel has always handled that part. So this time it’s just me. • Not only that, but I don’t have the car. So I’ll have a lovely 40 minute walk back home after we’re done. I think I’m all prepped, but who knows! • • • • • #walks #swimming #herewego #babygirl #goodluck #getoutside #funtimes #dadlife #sahd
Contact with the Baby Promotes the Release of Oxytocin
Studies show that oxytocin, a critical hormone in helping with the effects of depression and stress reduction, is released more during contact with the baby.
It makes sense when you really think about it. To me, this has likely developed as an evolutionary trait to better help the survival chances of a baby. If a hormone can be released to make a person feel better when holding a baby, then they’ll be more likely to do it. I’m not saying I necessarily felt an oxytocin rush whilst carrying Isabelle, but according to the science there’s a chance that I might.
Carrying a Baby Helps Reduce Infant Crying
Studies have also shown that the less a baby cries, the less likely you are to suffer from postnatal depression. That isn’t really a shocking discovery. But it is important when trying to address possible reasons for your postnatal depression. I know I used to get massive headaches whenever Isabelle cried, even more so if it was for no reason. So anything we could do to help prevent it would be gladly attempted.
It has also been shown, albeit with an older study, that the more a baby is carried, then less likely they are to cry. It showed a reduction in crying of 43-51% in those infants who received supplemental carrying. That is, increased carrying throughout the day in addition to that which occurs during feeding and in response to crying.
Summing up Babywearing
I’m not saying that simply babywearing with the use of a sling or a carrier is going to solve all of your problems. But it’s certainly worth a go. For the mothers, or the main caregiver (sorry for assuming that’s the mother) it’s a great way to give yourself a little more independence and freedom to do what you want. And for the fathers, it’s a great way to bond and connect with your baby in a new way.
Before having Isabelle, I really didn’t think too much about using a carrier. Like most parents, I assumed we’d simply use the pram, and that would be it. But I gave it a go. And I quickly realised how much not only I loved it, but more importantly how much Isabelle loved it. I’ve even written in the past my experience with a baby carrier.