“Babywearing has given my daughter and I so much more than simply a way to get around. Carrying her and having increased skin to skin is the only reason I have not had severe post-natal issues”
> together. I even enjoyed talking to people more as people asked about the wrap. Ten wraps later my passion and love for carrying only grows stronger!
WRAPPING TODDLERS My daughter has grown into a very confident and independent toddler, we still enjoy cuddles and wraps regularly and she has a favourite that she hands to me when she wants ‘up’. She even owns a woven wrap and a stretchy wrap of her own and carries the toy of the day about with pride.
On days when I am struggling with my mental health and I’m stretched to my limits, I find that I can back carry her giving me space and time to calm myself while giving her the comfort she needs. I do have bad days and unfortunately it is more than likely to be something I will have to face for the years ahead but I can know for sure I can provide the emotional support my child needs.
HORMONAL CHANGES I have now learnt that having your child close to you in arms or in a carrier, triggers the release of a number of hormones, one of which, oxytocin, helps with bonding, milk production and in short makes you feel great. It has been termed ‘the Love Hormone’ and affects both men and women. The calming effect of carrying will benefit you both, sharing an extended cuddle.
“We have shown that touch not only raises oxytocin, but it reduces cardiovascular stress and can improve the immune system, too,” writes Paul J. Zak in the The Moral Molecule. “Try telling people that you hug rather than shake hands and see what happens when you give others the gift of oxytocin. Studies show that the more one releases oxytocin, the easier it becomes to do so. That has certainly been my experience in practicing these oxytocin-releasing activities.”
As well as the release of oxytocin, knowing you have the ability to comfort your child brings confidence, which releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centres. The feeling of accomplishment and pride is a good feeling and one we naturally hunt for as humans (we also have higher levels than any other species). Low dopamine can lead to low mood, low motivation, loss of voluntary movements, less sleep, poor memory and much more.
“Dopamine is the chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain,” explains Dr Ananya Mandal. “It is released during pleasurable situations and stimulates one to seek out the pleasurable activity or occupation.”
BODY BOOST Exercise has been seen as a great treatment for depression as this also releases a group of hormones called endorphins.
Endorphins alone help with weight loss but by carrying your child you are giving your body a gentle and natural workout. Carrying your child is believed to not only aid your muscles, to strengthen and return to their pre-pregnancy position, but this also helps baby to develop their own muscles too. Endorphins help to give a boost to your mood and can reduce or even eliminate pain. The word endorphin means body-made-opiate due to its effects on mood and pain reduction.
Oestrogen is a group of steroid hormones, that can be released when we are relaxed and calm. For example, breathing with your baby is an amazing way to encourage more oestrogen. Oestrogen can help to boost serotonin levels, a mood boosting neurotransmitter. Relaxing into a meditation like state will help with the regulation of oestrogen for both men and women; having your child cradled against you will regulate your breathing as well as theirs.
“The key happiness hormone, serotonin, has a huge impact on your mood,” says Stephlina D’Cunha. “But this brain chemical is also known to affect memory, appetite, sleep, cravings, pain tolerance and digestion. Low serotonin levels have been linked to development of various mental issues, primarily depression.” Babywearing has given my daughter and I so much more than simply a way to get around. I was at extremely high risk of developing post-natal depression and having issues bonding with my baby, but fortunately I didn’t. Carrying her and having the increased skin to skin is the only reason I have not had severe post-natal issues. Post-natal depression is thought to affect around 15% of new mothers. I am one of many people who are facing the feeling of depression and anxiety, no matter what happens, know that you are not alone.
Jodie Brown is mum to Jenni and just recently Albert. A Sling consultant, she trained with both Slingababy and JPMBB.
MORE INSPIRATION GET SUPPORT mothersformothers.co.uk run groups in Bristol and have plenty of advice on their website abount PND READ Articles and more at carryingmatters.co.uk FIND Your local PND support group at pandasfoundation.org. uk/support-groups-local
FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019 www.thegreenparent.co.uk