Babywearing Education

The Virus & The Carried Baby

Initially termed as the “Wuhan Virus”, “China Virus”, “NCov”, “Kung Flu”, the list goes on, until WHO (World Health Organization) gave its officially name as CoViD 19 (‘Co’ for Corona, ‘Vi’ for Virus, ‘D’ for Disease, and ’19’ as in 2019). It is a viral infection which attacks the respiratory tract of its host causing runny nose, sore throat, fever, dry cough and difficulty in breathing, and in severe cases even death. What started out as a state crisis, affecting only few people, came full-blown pandemic as people travel around the globe, interact with one another. It is said that this zoonotic disease can be transmitted via droplets, and can easily be passed on when the virus finds it way to its host’s nose, mouth and eyes as their most appropriate portal of entry to survive and thrive.

I could go on and on about such (based on what I have read, heard, watched and learned in the past, but I am in no position to be discussing such in length since I’m not a doctor, nor a scientist, for that matter.) I will, however, write about the benefits of carrying and wearing our babies amidst the global threat of this Coronavirus, the enemy we are at war with, the enemy that we cannot see with our naked eye.

These numbers kept on increasing by the clock and yes even though we were already told of numerous ways on how to keep ourselves safe or away from this virus, these vicious little living-slash-non-living entity somehow finds its way to turn our genetic makeup against us and make us sick.

Source: Iloilo Today

I am considering a lockdown for the city so that we can immediately stop the chain of transmission of the virus. With the increasing number of PUIs we have in the city we need to act fast. When it comes to emergency situations like this, speed comes perfection. And we need to move fast so we can stop the virus, and be able to save lives!

Mayor Jerry P Trenas, March 18, 2020

As of writing (MArch 18, 2020), here in Iloilo City Philippines, Mayor Jerry P. Trenas, just announced a ‘lockdown’ for the whole city until April 14, 2020 (I am really crossing my fingers that things will be better, calm and manageable on or before that date). He also said that as of now, our city has 1,040 PUMs (Persons Under Monitoring) and 27 PUIs (Persons Under Investigations). These numbers kept on increasing by the clock and yes even though we were already told of numerous ways on how to keep ourselves safe and away from this virus, such as regular and proper handwashing, these vicious little living-slash-non-living entity somehow finds its way to turn our genetic makeup against us and make us sick.

As a Stay-At-Home/Work-from-Home mom, being told that I cannot go out for quite sometime with my family is not really a big deal since basically, Home is my workplace, but with the premise that I cannot go out because of the ongoing Pandemic, would mean panic-buying, ghost-town imagery, mixed with fear and anxiety that face masks and rubbing alcohol are all sold out everywhere!

BUT!!!

Babywearing is here to relieve some of our fears and anxieties, if not all.. Allow me to share some benefits and tips on how babywearing can help “save the day”

  1. ‘TIS THE SEASON OF PANIC BUYING
With Kuya Xian

Panic buying, hoarding, overpricing everywhere!!! That’s our truth, in a 3rd world country such as our’s. As much as we fear of getting sick, we also fear that our kids and our elderly will have nothing to eat when borders are now restricted. Yes, sure, the government clearly stated that we have sufficient supply of food and other essential goods, but, the truth is, there are still people who would take advantage of this situation, also, some people just have this irrational fear of the unknown. It’s nice when we have someone to buy these goods for us on the grocery store, but how about those who have no one else to depend on, ei commuting single parents with small, young babies — these challenging times are a bit daunting. With babywearing, we can still carry our babies, safe & comfortable (pls pls pls if it’s not that important, PLEASE STAY AT HOME! Again, please) while doing our quick errands. We wont have to worry little bub ‘swimming’ on aisle 3 where choclits and sweets are, or our little crawler touching and even ‘licking’ the unsanitized trays and food counters. It’s also good to use buckled carriers for this one since there are no tails or rails dragging on the floor or on the ground, no need for elaborate adjusting and tightening for the desired fit and snuggle. It’s a quick strap-and-go carrier. Plus, most buckled carriers have hoodies that can help us cover our child especially when social distancing is not being followed. For small babies, however, one may use a pre-tied stretchy wrap, just make sure, though, that the weather isn’t too hot (note that stretchy wraps are worn with three (3) layers wrap around the baby)

Mommy Christine & Daughter Martina

2. I (ONLY) HAVE TWO HANDS, THE LEFT AND THE RIGHT

Related to the first one, instead of using one of our arms to carry our child, we get to ‘enjoy’ buying more (Please, be socially responsible, though, buy only what you need). That spare arm used to carry your baby can now lift another bag of groceries. So, yey, another win for babywearing! It would be nice to use a two-shoulder carry types of baby carriers such as buckled carriers, meh dai, onbuhimo, etc to balance the weight on both arms, especially with the premise that you intend to carry heavy or loaded items.

3. CLOSER YOU AND I

This one is great for working parents who have always been craving but is deprived with the luxury of closeness and bonding with their little ones. We can take this ‘slow down’ time to make up for the time loss, and to infuse ‘lockdown’ with more hugs and cuddles. This is also a great tool to reassure our anxious little ones that we can get this through–that as long as you’re there, that everything will be alright.

Mommy Michele and Baby Cyan

4. HIT ME WITH THAT OXYTOCIN, BABY, ONE MORE TIME

Oxytocin, also known the ‘love hormone’ or the ‘cuddle hormone’, is a polypeptide that acts as a neurotransmitter in the body which helps in labor, childbirth, and breastmilk production. It also counteracts the effects of cortisol (a stress hormone), among the few. It has been found out that levels of cortisol decreases in the body, as the levels of oxytocin increases. Uvnas Morberg and Petersson discovered that oxytocin exhibits anti-stress qualities, on their study in 1997, “Oxytocin, a mediator of anti-stress, well-being, social interaction, growth and healing“. Note that high levels of stress hormones disrupts the immune response of a person. No wonder, most people love holding and hugging babies.

In times like this when people are experiencing high levels of anxiety and stress over uncertainty and fear of getting sick, a therapeutic hug and an oxytocin boost will come in handy.

5. ANTI-COVID 19 ANTIBODIES

In distressing times like this, when food is scarce and going out to buy food, milk and medicine is totally unsafe, breastfeeding presents itself as the most practical, sensible way to nourish our babies and keep them safe. Indeed, breastfeeding and babywearing goes hand in hand as it complements on the need for closeness for baby’s pheromones to send out signals in the mother’s brain, telling her that she has a baby to be fed, so she needs to produce milk. Not only that, according to the study by Pisacane in 2012, entitled “Use of baby carriers to increase breastfeeding duration among term infants..”, proved that mothers who wore their babies have longer breastfeeding duration than those who did not. We all know for a fact that the breastmilk produced by the mother is specific, tailored-fit to the needs of the baby. According to the La Leche League, as published last February 19, 2020, “Those who become infected shortly before giving birth and then begin breastfeeding, and those who become infected while breastfeeding, will produce specific secretory IgA antibodies and many other critical immune factors in their milk to protect their nursing infants and enhance their infants’ own immune responses. At this time, these immunologic factors will aid their infants’ bodies to respond more effectively to exposure and infection.”

Breastfeeding becomes even more critical for survival in humanitarian emergencies. Whether caused by conflict or natural disasters, emergencies jeopardize the health of populations, and young children are among the most vulnerable. They face risks from diarrhoeal diseases, pneumonia and undernutrition. Overcrowding, food insecurity, unsafe water, poor sanitation, and overburdened health systems all contribute to a more dangerous situation for infants and children. Failure to fully protect breastfeeding in these circumstances dramatically worsens the situation.

Dr Francesco Branca, WHO Director of Nutrition for Health and Development, and
Mr Werner Schultink, Chief of Nutrition, UNICEF
May 20, 2016

Isn’t it nice that through our close, loving, positive contact with our little ones, we can help ourselves continue to produce milk and protect them from outbreak at the same time?

Photo grabbed from the Breastfeeding Ilonggas,
Facebook Group

If you are to ask me as to what type of carrier may be used to breastfeed, I would say most of the common baby carriers can be used for breastfeeding. HOWEVER, for me, ring slings offer easy access and adjustment, with the added ‘feature’ such that long tails may be used to cover the exposed skin (PLEASE DO NOT COVER THE BABY).

PS: Before trying to use the sling as a breastfeeding aid, PLEASE practice both skills (babywearing & breastfeeding) separately, exclusively, before combining the two. I know, babywearing promises multitasking feats, but ensuring proper skills in latching and baby positioning in slings is very important. A loose fabric, improper use of the carrier, awkward positioning pose a lot of danger, causing positional asphyxiation, choking, or falling off the carrier.

PPS: seek out professional help if you must, to ensure safety and utmost comfort. Contact your nearest OB who is also a breastfeeding advocate, lactation consultant or babywearing consultant.

6. IT’S TIME TO BE MORE RESPONSIVE THAN EVER

A study done in 1990 by Anisfeld E and colleagues, “Does infant carrying promote attachment? An experimental study of the effects of increased physical contact on the development of attachment“, found out that carrying our babies promotes nurturing behavior and appropriately responsive to the needs of the baby.

Babywearing allows the wearer or the parent to be able to see, feel and observe any slight changes happening with the baby being worn. This is basically the reason why when using a carrier, the baby must be In View At All Times, for us to check if the child has troubled breathing, if there are any airway obstruction, if there are any sudden skin colorations. With this current crisis, it’s just wise that we constantly check on our little one, and babies being held close to us through babywearing, allows us, wearers to check for signs of the disease, if there are any.

Mommy RN and Baby R’Na

7. GENTLE, PASSIVE MASSAGE AND RHYTHMIC MOVEMENTS FOR A CALM MIND

Studies have shown that gentle pressure & passive massage through soft, positive touch helps us relax, which is why the use of carriers helps calm the mind not just to that of the baby (upright, stomach position, with a gentle rhythmic movements turns on our calming reflex –notice how we instantly being lulled to sleep when we ride on a jeepney or swinging on a hammock? It is because the rocking motion initiates calming reflex and it actually reverts us back to our pre-outside world life, our 40week womb experience) but also to the wearer.

Byrne and Horowitz, found out that distressed babies can be effectively soothed through rocking motion, in their paper in 1981, “Rocking as a soothing intervention: The influence of direction and type of movement“. In a study done in 2013 by Esposito and colleagues, “Infant calming responses during maternal carrying in humans and mice“, stated that “infant calming response to maternal carrying is a coordinated set of central, motor, and cardiac regulations and is a conserved component of mammalian mother-infant interactions“, due to these findings, “Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother. Furthermore, we identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions in mouse pups, we identified the upstream and downstream neural systems regulating the calming response. Somatosensory and proprioceptive input signaling are required for induction, and parasympathetic and cerebellar functions mediate cardiac and motor output, respectively.

First, babywearing puts a gentle pressure and restriction to the baby being worn which attunes the baby’s calming responses. Also, the skill of putting on the carrier is very helpful to the wearer, especially those who experience anxiety, because the tedious step-by-step process of placing the baby on a sling distracts the mind from unwanted and unwarranted thoughts. This is also why, if a wearer suffers from anxiety, it’s best to recommend the use of wraps, aside from having to keep in mind all the steps (yes, woven wraps require a lot of mind muscle workout), that gentle pressure when the fabric slides and glides through the body of the wearer, as one pulls each rail, tightening each strand, helps calm the muscle, which calms the mind, consequently.

AND!

Babywearing makes babies happy!

Wouldn’t it be great to spend this time with a less fussy baby?

Hurry, grab your sling now and enjoy the positive effects!

Let me know your thoughts on the comment section below. Thanks!

NOTE: If you experience any symptoms, or have encountered someone who caught the virus, or has a recent travel history especially from places with positive cases, PLEASE seek out immediate medical help. And though all these things mentioned above are promising, it’s important to heed to the current mandate and recommendations to practice social distancing, wear protective gears and observe proper hygiene.

For more safety precautions and update, visit reliable sources such as the World Health Organization & the Department Of Health

STAY INDOORS, KEEP SAFE AND BABYWEAR SMART.

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