If you speak to any Birthworker who supports postpartum people they will tell you a sling/baby carrier is one of the best investments you can make to help you through your postnatal period. They can be used to keep your baby close, keep them and you regulated, you can feed in them and facilitate skin to skin all while you have both hands free to do what ever it is you need to do!
But like all things that come with parenting they can be a bit daunting and figuring out which one is right for you and how to use them can be overwhelming. So here’s a little guide of the different types of slings available, how to use them safely and where you can go for a little extra help:
Types of Slings:
There are many types of slings, the most commonly used one with a newborn is a stretchy wrap. They are safe to use with smaller babies and it’s suitable for all people no matter your size due to the fact it’s just one long piece of material. It’s worth noting they can be tricky to figure out, so practicing before baby arrives can be helpful.
If a stretchy wrap isn’t your thing then there are some buckled carriers that can be used with newborns, some may even come with an insert you can use for smaller babies. If a buckle is too rigid, then there’s a number of other types you can try - there’s ring slings, mei tais and woven wraps to name a few!
Like I said, daunting!
One way to help figure out what will work for you is visiting a sling library, most areas will have one, there you will be able to try out different types, a trained sling consultant can show you how to use them, you will even be able to hire your chosen one to use for a few weeks before you buy one. If there isn’t a library near you, there are some brilliant social media pages and websites you can look at, such as carryingmatters
and coorieinwithlove. If you’ve hired a Postnatal Doula they will probably have a basic understanding of the different types of sling and how to use them, and they’ll definitely be able to signpost you to local support.
But, while you’re here, I might as well share some basic safety tips with you, and an acronym is always helpful!
So, you’ve got the acronym, what does it mean?
Slings and carriers should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you as this will be most comfortable for you both
In view at all times
You should always be able to see your baby's face by simply glancing down
Close enough to kiss
Your baby's head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable
Keep in off the chest
A baby should not be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing
In an upright carrier a baby should be held comfortably close to the wearer so their back is supported in its natural position and their tummy and chest are against you
Another thing to be mindful of is how your baby is sitting in the sling. Your baby’s position is important for the healthy growth of their hips and spine and to decrease the chance of hip dysplasia. A good indicator is that the sling goes from knee dip to knee dip and your baby’s legs look like frogs legs.
Even with all the help and information, it’s still a learned skill, and it takes time to get it right. Don’t panic, don’t feel bad if it takes a while to get the hang of it and don’t feel guilty if you just don’t enjoy it. Do what works for you as a family and give it a go if you want to.