Bonded Beginnings

Babywearing peer supporter Lois Benvie talks about how using a sling helped to keep baby close after her planned c-section.

Cuddles, Convenience, Connection

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Birth plans are mythical creatures; they dwell in dreams and love to disappoint us. I didn’t have one the first time I gave birth. I didn’t think c-sections made any space for them. All I wanted for my second c-section was my baby close, touching me or my husband, at ALL times. Two hours after birth my baby was taken to NICU; he couldn’t have felt further away.

No-one tells you how to bond with a baby you can’t even cuddle when you want to or when he needs you to. I had felt an immediate, profound, all-consuming connection to my first born on his birth day. Towards my second born I felt distance and guilt.

But once we argued him out of NICU (another less uplifting story), we wrapped him and felt better. My husband ‘wore’ him first. His keenness to wrap was uncharacteristic; he felt the same painful distance. And the photo I took of him cuddling his newborn in a sling was an instant hit on our local babywearing fb page, an affirmation of his love for his new child and an acknowledgement of the power of keeping children close in slings.

The wrapping continued. I carried him safely around the ward and hospital and he never bothered my scar. Having him high and instantly kissable was much better than a cumbersome pregnancy belly. It was physically comfortable and mentally a huge comfort. I could pee without setting him down, traipse back and forth to the room where my pumping equipment was sterilised and my breast milk was stored (more fun stories) and escape the heat and claustrophobia of my curtained cell. Midwives gave me positive comments and other mums were curious. I felt in control, finally.

From there our connection grew. I could smell his skin and it was intoxicating. I could give him the skin to skin contact we both wanted and had been denied so soon after birth. He was always settled, feeling my heartbeat and maintaining body temperature. I could also reconnect with my toddler. Mummy was home and had two free hands for most of the time. I couldn’t shower in a wrap (or pump, annoyingly) but I could brush my teeth, dress my toddler, do dishes and laundry, pay bills, hoover, play duplo, walk the dog – you get the picture.

Babywearing is beautiful, practical, and to me, essential. It is the way to find the eye of the tornado. It helped me when I felt helpless and seven months later we rarely get through a day without using a sling. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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