Before I get into why babywearing is good for reducing postnatal depression, I thought I’d put up the blog post that I wrote about my experiences with babywearing. Just press, or click, that link if you wish to read a different post.
For me personally, babywearing is something that I feel really started to make a big difference with my postnatal depression. In essence, it gave me and Isabelle something to do together that she actually loved. Not only that, but it kept us connected and close whenever I did it.
Why Babywearing Works
There are many reason why babywearing can help with postnatal depression. Some of what I am going to talk about are purely anecdotal in the sense that they helped me, so I believe they can be transferred to someone else. Other are based a little more on actual scientific research. I try to find the balance between both when I’m giving out advice, so here they are:
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 demanding, and dare I say needy, could be incredibly tough; but with the help of a carrier, it’s not actually that hard. If Isabelle doesn’t want to be left in the bouncer, or she is in fact 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 light. I’ve become quite excellent at one-handed cooking, I even manage to chop the onions, and besides, there’s nothing wrong with a challenge.
It 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, and as such, she was always concerned about her food. So when we first discovered that Isabelle really enjoyed being in the 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 July 5th) and haven’t looked back since. Here she is when we first used it on a walk:
It 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’s also released during breastfeeding, but that’s a separate topic, but something I just felt like noting.
It makes sense when you really think about it. Everything that makes us up has been developed over hundreds and thousands of years of evolution. I dare say that oxytocin release has been manufactured to ensure a better survival chance for the baby due to the parent feeling more attached whilst holding them. These good feelings will then be sought out, and ergo, the baby will be more protected.
It Helps Reduce Infant Crying
Studies have shown that the less a baby cries, the less likely you are to suffer from PND. That isn’t really a shocking discovery, but it is important when trying to address possible reasons for your 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 only 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.
I’m not saying that simply carrying your baby around in a sling or a carrier is going to solve all 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. If you want to read more about my experience with babywearing, then I have a post about it here.
If you want other suggestions to try to go alongside this, then feel free to check out the Toolkit I’ve made.