Babywearing with Jess


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Preparing you for parenthood.. Being realistic about the struggles..

Alison McColluck has done some great research about Postnatal Distress (PND) and after hearing her interview on RNZ, I delved more into the work she has been doing.
I listened to the interviews included in her research series, it’s a great new media format which you should check out here – http://werewolf.co.nz/category/pnd-series/

The ladies in the interviews section are all people who have suffered with PND themselves and about their journey. Their ideas and thoughts on the topic generally. What helped them and what they think would help others.

 
In every case, they all said that early intervention was key. They all thought more focus on the actual parenting part in preparation for having a baby, not so much the birth, could have served them better. That practical tips and skills would have helped them more. That a better understanding of the risk factors would help.
In fact, the women that had suffered mental health issues in the past felt much better equipped to recognise the symptoms and need for intervention. For those who hadn’t, the lack of awareness and clear direct support channels was debilitating.

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Feeling overwhelmed, trapped, isolated, tired, anxious..  All things that aren’t uncommon for new parents and make it even harder to identify what is a ‘normal part of this life transformational life process’ and what level of struggling is something more..  But the ongoing and intrusive nature of these issues can be totally crippling or, on the other end of the spectrum, go undiagnosed.

The stigma that surrounds these issues really exacerbate the shame, fear, guilt and other self critical thoughts and feelings. The lack of awareness of these issues contributes to making them more detrimental and perpetuates the stigma.

There are huge ripple effects when people (fathers suffer too) are struggling with these issues. In every interview there was also a common theme, these women where often self less in their concern, it was their children, partners, family & friends they talked about harming and being of detriment to.
I agree with them that greater public awareness of these issues is a big deal.

Support is so key to ongoing mental health and more information available for support people would also help. You are much more susceptible to suffer from mental health issues in this time in your life. It is a massive adjustment for everyone.

I also think it’s really important that we start honest conversations about that struggle. In the digital age, it’s the ‘shiney highlights’ of our stories and journey’s that are shared. Even when people share the bad, it’s often not the worst. Talking more honestly about how it is ok to struggle, how this process and caring for a child is fucking hard work will help people with their expectations around that.

I also strongly agree with them about how we could benefit from a refocus in the antenatal content that is delivered. This is just hypothesis but maybe making these classes so focused on the actual birth process (which is like a tiny blip on the radar of new parenthood!) we are actually unempowering parents? Making them feel more out of control of that process and like someone else has to call the shots?

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I’m all for empowered birthing and parenting and encouraging parents to feel confident to listen to and trust their instincts so I will leave that rant for other post. I heard over and over again in those interviews that those mothers wish they had been given more practical tips in their maternity education. That more ways to cope, more information post birth was important too. I couldn’t agree more.

The ones who mentioned learnings from their process that helped most; like practical survival techniques, like remembering to prioritise self care, like being realistic of the expectations you put on yourself, about being kind to yourself, like knowing when to ask for help-all of those could be more throughly covered antenatally.

High among those practical suggestions would surely have to be exploring the topic of slings and carriers. Feelings of being trapped don’t help when you are confined to a chair with a baby who won’t sleep anywhere but on your chest. A carrier can help provide some freedom to move and do things while also helping you meet your baby’s need to be kept close.

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Feelings of isolation are compounded when you become so fixated on the holy grail of sleep which you are so desperately in need of and your baby won’t seem to do. Being able to have your baby close to you so they can nap comfortably and safely can give you the security of knowing you can do that without having to be at home. Strapping a tired child to me and going for a walk has always done wonders for both of us in my experience.

Our societies obsession with making our children independent from us as soon as possible is not only unrealistic but detrimental as it further encourages that constant second guess, concerns of failure and fear. “if I cuddle my baby when they cry are they going to be dependent on me forever?” No.

Human babies are born with a biological need to be kept close to their caregivers. As a species, our young are born dependent on us. Carrying them close to us allows them to continue developing critically in that first transition from the womb to the world. Carrying them and using slings and carriers has actually made us develop to be smarter as a species, a long time before now.

Being realistic about the messages we give parents, preparing them with practical tools like mindfulness and prioritising self care, even when it’s hard, in fact especially when it’s hard. Explaining it’s ok to not enjoy every moment, it is ok to struggle.

It’s also ok to be kind to yourself. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to need help.

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It’s that adage saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and it’s actually very true, but equally could be said, ‘you need support to be the best parent you can be’.

Sometimes life and situations can rob us of these things and we are really lucky here in Auckland to have a number of amazing support services who are able to step in and help you find support if you need it.

And they create and provide these services for you to use. If you are thinking, “I’m struggling but I’m not that bad…” don’t wait. Don’t wait till you are “that bad” whatever that means to you. That point is too late to rectify damages done in the process. All the evidence and research says the earlier you seek help, better.

You matter too, just like they say on the plane, “secure your own safety mask before helping babies and children” because in short, your not good to them if your passed out cause you don’t have oxygen yourself!

Be kind to yourself.

 


 

To find some support in New Zealand, check out – https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/support-groups/


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What’s in a MAMA Maternity workshop??

I recently had the first of the monthly workshops to be held at MAMA Maternity!

There was five attendees and we managed to cover a huge amount of content!

So what is in these workshops..?

 

Well firstly I go over briefly a wee bit about baby physiology and some of the history and benefits of using a carrier with our children and babies. I will talk about safety and positioning in a carrier and answer any questions you guys might have about that.

 

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So at the start there is a bit of us all just talking and me giving my take on any points of confusion or answer any particular questions people might have.

 

Then I jump into a bit of a quick series of demo’s just designed to give you some kind of taster of the various styles and options available to you. I fear too many people buy an option that doesn’t work for them and rule out the concept of using a carrier all together…

 

 

After demonstrations, I provide some more take home information and open the library for playing and exploring with the dolls. I will post more soon about the use of dolls in these settings, but in summary, our kids pick up so much on the vibes we put out, if we practise and play with a baby in the sling, they sense our hesitation of uncertainty in what we are doing… The opportunity to play with dolls first gives you the chance to feel more confident about what you are doing before you even pick up your child!

 

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The beauty of these workshops, and indeed the nature of consultancy in the babywearing world, is the focus on tailoring the content and focus on what the people within the workshop want to do… There are limited spaces on each workshop to ensure I can at least attempt to meet all the varying requests and expectations in this setting which is just intended as a “taster” to the world of babywearing.

 

At my recent workshop earlier in the week, there were a few different requests and areas of interest… There was the Mums and Bubs yoga teacher with no kids of her own who wanted to learn more about babywearing for her clients (check out Lauren Kate Yoga ;), a few ‘experienced’ babywearers who were keen to pick up some new tricks, a new mama keen to hear about slings and carriers could help with her new baby and a pregnant mama interested in exploring the options before she even has her bubba.

 

 

Steph and baby Jessica (7 weeks) had been given a ring sling but where not quite sure where to start or if this was the best option for them. Together we decided, since she already had one at home, we would try using that from the library to see if that option could work for them. So while Steph settled bubs, I went through another demonstration more slowly and in detail to show her how to set up the pouch and put baby in.

When baby Jessica was happy with a full tum, another workshop attendee, Muirie, took the chance to sneak in some newborn cuddles while Steph and I went through the process together using the dolls. I also explained some other ways in which she might find her ring sling beneficial and alternative methods.

 

 

Here Lauren and I were discussing the importance of cupping your shoulder and spreading the back pass in a ring sling so to spread the load of baby. We also spent quite a bit of time discussing how carry your child in any kind of carrier helps to keep an ergonomic alignment when bearing weight.

I actually bought my first ring sling when Josh was about 15 months old (Jai’s age now!) because he so often wanted quick ups and downs in my arms but holding him on my hip was making me bend myself in a kind of C shape to support his weight on my hip bone. The process of doing so over and over again exacerbated the tilt in my pelvis from post birth which I hadn’t really made any effort to correct before then.

 

After some serious pain in my lower back, shoulders and neck and many many trips to the Osteopath, I spent quite a bit of time in the Pilates studio to try and correct it. Wearing a ring sling to hold Josh in that same position he had grown accustomed to being carried in meant the exaggerated bend wasn’t necessary, my back and shoulders help support his weight instead of my hip bone. While I was still essentially carrying him in just the same way, the nature of the sling meant I kept my back and spine straighter and was strengthening my core muscles, not those in my lower back which were trying to compensate for the unnatural curve in my spine and hips.

 

We then also got to spend a wee bit of time playing with wraps and showing some of the ‘old hands’ at babywearing a few off the tips and tricks I picked up through the Slingababy consultant training process 😉

 

These guys where a great ‘taster’ of all the kinds of people I was hoping to be able to benefit from the workshop setting and while it meant we covered heaps of content and various focuses in the short time we were together, everyone also benefited from seeing and sharing everyone else’s experiences, questions and exploration.

 

The next MAMA workshop is scheduled for the 17th October, 2016 at 1030am-12pm – https://www.facebook.com/events/1138734226207351/


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Babywearing Workshops at Mama Maternity 

So there is now a date & details locked in so I can share more info with you all about the exciting news of my first workshop lined up for the end of next month at Mama Maternity!
I have teamed up with Mama Maternity as I think that sharing the babywearing love with new parents or parents-to-be particularly will have the most effectiveness for my overall goal of hoping to help people find answers that work for them without having to waste money buying options that don’t work for them.

 

I think many parents buy something main stream that they find uncomfortable or unsuitable and then write off the whole concept of babywearing.. If I can reach them to help them understand the benefits of babywearing and at least give them a taste of the various styles, kinds and options available to them, well, them I am pretty meeting my mission objective!

 

Which it makes it even more awesome that this is all now lined up and finalised and next week we are all flying down to Christchurch for my long anticipated Slingababy Consultant training. My business cards arrived this week, I now have everything official and even have my business bank account set up haha all the last few weeks work is coming together and its all go around here!

 

I will add an event for the upcoming workshop to my Facebook page shortly but for the record, the first one is lined up for Monday, 26th September, 2016 from 10.30am-12pm. Pre-booking is essential, numbers are limited and details need to be sent through to info@mamamaternity.co.nz

 

Here’s the flyer for reference 😉

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Watch this space for blog posts about training next week!! Its all very exciting!!! 🙂