Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wearing Through Chronic Back Pain

I’d always hoped to wear any baby we were blessed with, but when the ligaments of my pelvis over-loosened to an extreme degree at 24 weeks pregnant, and I began living in near-constant pain, I wondered if it would work out. My medical team all assured me that my body would heal itself shortly after delivery, so I kept on figuring out which wearing options were best for our family.

While I was interested in soft-structured carriers, namely the Beco Gemini, the idea of wrapping really enticed me. I loved that woven wraps were amazingly beautiful and versatile from infancy to toddlerhood. When Baby Boy V was born, I was armed with a stretchy Moby Wrap and a Neobulle woven wrap.  I wrapped baby for the first time at about thirty hours old in a Moby.

To the surprise of all, instead of my pain getting better after V was born, it got worse and worse as the pain spread from my pelvis to my lower back, upper back, shoulders, and neck.  Life became consumed with thrice weekly chiropractic visits, weekly physical therapy, and a battery of doctors who didn’t quite know what to do with me.

Holding baby in my arms would exacerbate the pain, but what else is a new mom to do?  I quickly discovered that when I wrapped V, it distributed his weight across my shoulders and back and made carrying him around bearable.

After a few weeks, I decided to pull out my woven wrap to see how that compared to the Moby. It was trickier to get snug, but it felt so much more supportive. After getting some pointers at a Babywearing International of DC-MD-VA meeting, I discovered that I had less pain wearing V in a woven wrap than pushing him a stroller which required me to hold my arms in an uncomfortable position. I realized that a very snug pocket carry acted as a back brace, plus having baby so snugly next to me gave me an emotional boost, an important thing when dealing with chronic pain.

Because the Moby is stretchy, it has give in every direction and felt like it was pulling away from me. In contrast, a woven wrap only stretches slightly on the diagonal so it can get scrumptiously snug and conform to every inch of baby and me to provide unparalleled support. I wish I had started with a woven from the beginning!
The carries that are best for me have three things in common: they are symmetrical, have a pocket, and use a spread-out cross-pass. If that sounds like a foreign language to you, you are not alone. It sure did to me! Come to a meeting and ask for help, but in the meanwhile, take a look at my two favorite carries that do all three of those things, the front wrap cross carry and double hammock back carry with a cross-pass front.  

My medical team members are in agreement that supportive, symmetrical carries in a wrap are not contraindicated. Most of them were not familiar with wrapping, but extended their approval as they learned more. It is still unclear if my body will ever heal completely, but I should “graduate” from physical therapy right after V turns nine months old!  I am so glad that I found a way to care for V in a way that allows me to parent in the high-contact way that is important to our family while helping my body grow stronger. 

Posted by Pamm

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mei Tai Tying Tips

I often hear, "My mei tai is awesome, but sometimes the straps feel like they are slipping off my shoulders."

So, I put together this photo tutorial with some alternatives to the traditional "backpack style" straps.

1. Cross in front:

This can be uncomfortable for moms with larger breasts and can cause problems with clogged ducts if you are prone to them.  It is my husband's favorite way to tie though.

2. Chest Belt
This works just like a chest belt in a wrap if you are familiar with wrapping.  After bringing the straps over your shoulders,tie a half knot before heading back around.

3. Tying Tibetan

Take shoulder straps over and around like regular backpack straps, then instead of tying in front, cross one over your chest and thread through the opposite shoulder strap.  Repeat on other side.  If your shoulder straps are not long enough, you can untie the waist and do this with the waist straps instead.  That can be a great option for pregnant mamas to get the straps up away from your tummy.
Then tie (sorry, this pic it TOTALLY out of focus, but you get the idea).
 4. Or you can twist

Twist down the center of your chest until you get to a spot you feel comfortable taking them back around to tie off.

No matter what tweaks you use, don't give up on your mei tai until you've exhausted all of the possibilities for comfort.

Posted by Ann Marie

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Babywearing at the Museum

The museum is one of those places babywearing is really ideal.  Most exhibits aren't designed to be seen from stroller height, and strollers tend to be difficult to maneuver in the crowds.  One thing to keep in mind, most art museums forbid back carries, this isn't an insult to babywearers, it is an insurance thing to make sure your little bundle doesn't bump or grab priceless art.  Front or hip carries are acceptable.

First of all, we have to get to the museum.  Babywearing is fantastic on public transportation.

Once you arrive at your destination, there is lots of fun to be had and things to explore:

Sometimes you even find yourself blending in with the display

And when it all gets to be too much, it's time for a nap before heading home

So get out there and enjoy the fun and experiences available to you and your kids at museums.  You won't regret leaving the stroller at home.

Museum Photos taken at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Virginia Children's Museum in Portsmouth, VA.