Hi, I’m Sally, 30 year old Mum to 15 month old Reuben, and this post is to share my experience of how babywearing has helped me to cope with postnatal depression.
A short background is that I started suffering with antenatal depression at about 6 weeks of pregnancy, which had become severe by the time I was diagnosed and started treatment at 20 weeks. So firstly I’d like to raise awareness of antenatal depression as well, as it’s talked about even less than postnatal depression and, having had both, is just as horrible and isolating to have to deal with.
We have a lot of pets and a large garden to look after, and a massive trigger for my depression is feeling like I can’t do anything or that I’m behind on what needs to be done. Because of this, I decided while still pregnant that I needed some kind of carrier as I needed to be able to carry Reu around with me while I was doing things. Little did I know at this stage how important to my life babywearing would become.
By the time Reu was born I’d worked really hard in therapy, combined with medication, and my mood was pretty good and I felt able to cope. But sleep deprivation, ill health, poorly babies, and other things all take their toll and over the last year I have continued to struggle with postnatal depression at varying times. And this is where babywearing has saved me.
In the early days it meant I could have Reu with me always and form an incredibly strong bond with him. In the days of non stop feeds it meant I could have a break and move easily while he slept in between.
It enabled me to get outside in the garden, the fresh air and the sunshine. I could let the chickens out in the morning, or feed the frogs, or say hello to the ferrets, play with the dogs, all while Reu was happily snuggled against my body. Basically, to continue living my life while still caring for Reu. And all these things helped to keep me sane. The ease of walking out the house to go for a walk or get the shopping, and you don’t have to set up a buggy or negotiate tight aisles or crowded places without running over peoples ankles. At points, I have struggled with anxiety and having Reu on me in a sling makes me feel safe, we are one unit in these times (as we were before he was born), and we are a team. As a team, we can do anything, and go anywhere that we need or want to go. And if my anxiety kicks in, it’s easy for me to get us to somewhere that feels safer, without a lot of baggage to carry.
As I’ve become more involved in the babywearing community, it’s meant I’ve made friends and found new opportunities to find enjoyment and fulfillment in my life, with Reu. We volunteer at local sling meets, and go for walks and lunch with a local babywearing group. Sometimes these things help me get out the house when I’m struggling, and once I’m there my mood starts to improve.
So for me, and my ongoing journey through parenthood and postnatal depression, babywearing has just been vital in allowing me to continue to be me while I adjust to the whole new world of Motherhood. To enable me to get to know my incredible son, who is the most outgoing, wonderful and adventurous toddler I know. And I’m sure babywearing has helped him to be as awesome as he is. He has always been a part of every aspect of life, he’s gone places, been at eye level seeing everything that’s going on, had uncountable people chatting to him, and just experienced everything possible, while Mummy chatters away to him, and feels safe herself.
My husband pointed out to me when I set up my Facebook page that I’m smiling in all the pictures of me carrying Reu, so I suppose the summary is for me, babywearing means happiness.