Tag Archives: babywearing

Spotlight On: Birth, Breath and Death

Birth Breath and Death Front Cover copy

An interview with author Amy Wright Glenn about her book Birth, Breath, and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula.

Tell us about your book.

Birth, Breath, and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula is a heartfelt account of my work with the birthing and dying. I am a doula. I hold space for women as they give birth. I am a chaplain. I hold space for the dying. I am drawn to life’s thresholds. I am drawn to these doorways.

Birth, Breath, and Death is also a deeply personal exploration of what it meant for me to become a mother, given the painful legacy of my mother’s mental illness. I write about the healing attachment found in cosleeping, breastfeeding and babywearing. I weave together research on attachment and brain development, with reflections on empathy and compassion.

Finally, I share personal stories about birth and death, combined with philosophical reflections as my academic background is in the study of comparative religions and philosophy.

What inspired you to write this book?

My husband, Clark, came up with the title of this book during my training as a hospital chaplain. However, I wasn’t ready to write this book at that point in my life. It was the birth of my son–and the subsequently profound opening of my heart–that compelled me to write this book.

I didn’t want to go back to full-time academic work after holding my newborn in my arms. I knew I could use my skill as a writer to contribute financially to the family and fulfill my heart’s longing, and the longing of my young son, to stay at home and nurture him with the best of my energy and talents.

Much of Birth, Breath, and Death came to me in meditation, and I often woke up from sleep with sentences running through my mind. Writing has opened up many doors for me, and I’m grateful to find a way to work from home and share my insights, struggles, hopes and experiences.

How will this book benefit families?

All of us are born. All of us die. I write about the deepest questions we can examine in life. Within our family circles, we encounter both the miraculous and the mundane. Within our families, we most deeply encounter the transformative energies of birth and death.

I believe we all benefit from reflecting upon what it means to be born and what it means to die. These are life’s big questions. Even if one disagrees with my responses to these big questions, it is still invaluable to take the time to reflect upon them with an open heart and mind.

Parents, in particular, will benefit from reading this book as I reflect on what it means to be a parent and find one’s own way, trust one’s intuition, and draw upon best practices and scholarship to bring out the best in oneself and one’s children.

You share birth stories and reflect upon your work as a chaplain supporting the dying, but tell us more about the “Breath” part of your book.

The first thing we do upon leaving our mother’s body is breathe in, and the last thing we do before we die is breathe out. The breath is the link, the thread. It is a powerfully loyal friend throughout life’s journey between birth and death.

I practice meditation and teach yoga. Conscious breath awareness is central to these mindfulness practices. It’s central to living a mindful life. The “breath” part of the book relates to teachings drawn from many wisdom traditions that help us keep our hearts open as we live with love and seek truth.

You studied comparative religion and taught this on the college and high school level, so how does this impact your writing?

My studies of comparative religion and philosophy profoundly impact everything I do. I love making links between the particular and the universal, between the day-to-day patterns of living and the deep reflections that thinkers across time and culture bring to human life. My book is academically rigorous in the sense that I draw freely from my training as a scholar in the telling of birth, breath and death tales.

What are your views of Attachment Parenting International and what API is doing? How does your book work within our mission statement?

Attachment Parenting International is an organization I admire, support and celebrate. I’m very grateful for API’s commitment to link best parenting practices with research, and support families to develop secure attachments that foster the development of empathy, courage and resilience.

I found myself naturally practicing many AP styles of mothering and applied my previous research in the field of ethical development to the work of nurturing my son. I certainly want to support all parents to “raise secure, joyful, and empathetic children.” We do this best when we as parents embody these qualities ourselves.

My book chronicles my own journey of working through the pain of a difficult childhood and emerging with joy and empathy to embrace openhearted mothering.

Where can readers find more information?

Readers can visit my website www.birthbreathanddeath.com to read reviews of the book and find purchase information.


Peace at Home: Military Families Embrace Attachment Parenting

By Kit Jenkins, babywearing educator for Babywearing International, communications coordinator for API and a co-founder of The Carrying On Project, www.carryingonproject.org

One of the best things about Attachment Parenting is the consistency in all of its principles. Everything is done from a perspective of mutual comfort and respect for the whole family. It creates an ongoing safe and comfortable environment, even when the outside world gets crazy. For military families, often “crazy” is part of the daily programming. Parents are in and out of the home for days, weeks or months at a time; there is often lots of moving, new people to meet and places to go; and there is so much chaos. For a grown adult, it is an adjustment. For children, it can be terrifying. To help combat that, more and more military families are turning to Attachment Parenting, either pieces of it or sometimes “the whole enchilada.”KJenkinsBabywearing2

Like many military families I have spoken with, we stumbled into Attachment Parenting almost by accident. My husband and I had a courthouse marriage a few months before our ceremony. We knew that we would also be in the middle of moving to our next duty station on the other side of the country and wanted things to be as seamless as possible. The day we signed on our first house, bought in Colorado from New York City, we also found out we were pregnant.

Once we arrived in Colorado, I started looking at prenatal classes. We were pointed by family to the Bradley Method because I wanted a natural birth. I am allergic to several kinds of medication, and decided that the less I had to potentially die from, the better! Through our class we learned a little bit about various parts of “crunchy parenting,” as my husband called it, and we knew that we wanted to do some of it but weren’t sure about all of it. We knew we wanted to breastfeed and cloth diaper, and were mildly interested in babywearing, but we didn’t want to co-sleep, had made no real decisions about disciplinary approaches, and so on. Continue reading Peace at Home: Military Families Embrace Attachment Parenting

What Attachment Parenting is…and is Not

Maybe you never knew there was a name for it – the unique way you raise your child – but it’s in tune with your child’s needs and with your own needs, and your family lives it out daily. Or, perhaps, you do know there is a name for it, with many synonyms and variations, but you live it out without being defined.

It’s hit the news, blogs, social media, and forums where parenting approaches are more contentious than politics or religion.

Some may know what they know about it from a critique or a comment. But, every day, growing numbers of parents find the name and the communities that come with it – and breathe a sigh of relief to find welcome, encouragement, information, and freedom from judgment.

From professionals to media, it’s not just parents who are discussing Attachment Parenting.

The Latest Fad, or Something More? Time for some clarification and a reality check…

Spotlight On: Balboa Baby

API: Tell us, exactly what is Balboa Baby?

BALBOA BABY: Balboa Baby is a relative newcomer to the juvenile industry, having been established in 2007 with the introduction of an adjustable baby sling. This was followed by other new parent must-haves, including a nursing cover, nursing pillow, and shopping cart cover. Joining president Noel Pepys at Balboa in an advisory capacity is Dr. William Sears and his wife, Martha, who is a certified lactation consultant.

API: What have parents found to be most useful about Balboa Baby?

BALBOA BABY: Balboa Baby products enable parents to incorporate baby into everyday life, but more importantly, the products allow parents to bond more easily with baby. The Sling keeps baby close wherever you go, and the Nursing Cover means you don’t have to delay baby’s feeding while you look for a private spot. The Nursing Pillow, used most often at home, helps position baby properly for feeding, and the Shopping Cart Cover means you can take baby along to the grocery store without fear of germs. Continue reading Spotlight On: Balboa Baby

The Toddler: ‘Baby on Wheels’

By Avanya Manasseh

It’s 8:30 in the morning. My husband looks at me on his way to work and says, “Have a great day!” Apparently he didn’t notice the poop on my shirt and disinfectant wipes in my hand. Or the scrambled eggs in my hair. He must not have seen our toddler nursing and clinging like a monkey to my neck while I cleaned poop from the floor. No, he just smiled his enviably brushed teeth at us and went on his way. Thus began another 12-hour day of toddler care, following and sure to be followed by an all-too-short night of toddler care.

I’ve never met a parent without a tome of similar stories. Soon enough, I’m told, my toddler will be a teenager and I can remind her of these moments. This is small consolation right now, and I try to keep in mind how much I do love this growing nursling and wouldn’t parent her any other way.

Well described by Norma Jane Bumgarner in her book Mothering Your Nursing Toddler as a “baby on wheels,” a toddler is not what people will tell you about when you get pregnant. They woo you with tales of first giggles, first words, first steps. Few mention that toddlers learn to say “no” long before “yes.” Not that toddlerhood is all bad – in our family it is far preferable to those early months of endless crying. Constant babywearing, bedsharing, breastfeeding, and endless love didn’t seem to stop the tears. But these eventually paid off, and Naila is a joyous 18-month-old. But this baby on wheels is just that: a baby with more desire than ability.

I often struggle to find the balance between sensitive response and the safety guardian all these desires require as they meet increasing skill. Coupled with sleep deprivation and the frustration that stems from limited verbal communication, the truth is sometimes I DO need to let Naila “cry it out” when she wants to watch television and I think we should read books instead. I hold her, distract her, attempt to find enticing alternatives, but let’s be real: She’s screaming at the top of her lungs. The same scenario unfolds throughout the day when I won’t let her handle steak knives, run into the street, or drink window cleaner. Her tears tell the story of the deep injustice she feels. “Surely,” I imagine she thinks, “SOMEONE out there loves me more and WILL let me play with steak knives!”

Jean Liedloff reminds us in her book The Continuum Concept (Da Capo Press, 1977) that even though a child may be old enough to play independently, that doesn’t mean she should be left to do so all the time. Liedloff emphasizes the importance of constant babywearing until the baby is ready to crawl, and then continued babywearing until the child desires to get down and explore. After reading this, I realized I had given in to the “ability mindset” and was trying to force Naila to entertain herself while I grabbed a few minutes here or there to do chores around the house without her “help.” What she really needed was to participate with me just as she always used to. She hasn’t changed nearly as much as I imagine, and her need to be physically close is still far stronger than her desire to do something more interesting than watch me empty a dishwasher from her perch on my back.

I need frequent reminders that although she is growing quickly, Naila is still the child and I the adult. Sharing sleep means that when Naila has a difficult night, so do I. The result is that the next day we are both tired and grumpy. But as the adult, I understand why we feel that way and have the capacity to overcome it. I need to rise above the occasion, tie on my sneakers, and go outside for some fresh air for both of us. As my mood improves, hers always follows. Even though we often feel the same way, I need to lead her out of any negativity she is feeling. The resulting giggles are surely a well-earned reward.

One of the greatest tools a parent of a toddler has at her disposal is creativity. When boredom or frustration seems to loom, it’s important to get ahead of the game as quickly as possible. Before a tantrum starts, try to get your head out of the situation and jump into prevention mode. A spontaneous game of peek-a-boo or a quick change of scenery can often save the day by distracting your little one from the frustrations you know he is feeling. If your usual bag of tricks doesn’t work, remember: This is still your baby; get him into the baby carrier and turn on some music or head outside. The same patient responses that you used with your newborn will still be helpful with your energetic toddler.

It’s important to recognize that a child lives in a world that is very different from the one you share with her. It is filled with experiences she cannot communicate about effectively. This is especially evident with teething. We know why they are uncomfortable, and we know it won’t last forever, but how can we expect small children to recognize these things? All they feel is pain for unknown reasons, and they usually can’t tell us about it. How would we feel if something hurt, and we didn’t understand it and couldn’t tell anyone?

With the joys of increased communication, fast running, and newfound independence, toddlerhood also brings a new set of parenting challenges. By keeping the same principles in mind that we used with our newborns, we can learn new ways to apply our beliefs in sensitivity during this stage. Through continued physical touch, a high-energy mindset, and constant checks on our perspective, each day’s challenges can be met with the same sensitivity as always. Sensitive parenting through this phase is not easy, but sharing the excitement of toddlerhood with your little one is certainly worth the effort!

Spotlight On: Snuggle Me Cushion

Interviews by Rita Brhel, executive editor of The Attached Family

Snuggle Me CushionNo doubt you saw the two Snuggle Me Cushions included in the Spring 2010 Giveaway through the New Baby edition of The Attached Family magazine.

Shell Rasmussen, creative director of the magazine, opted to try out the Snuggle Me Cushion for herself with her infant son. She spoke with me afterward about her impressions.

RITA: What is your opinion of the Snuggle Me Cushion?

SHELL: The cushion is a nice alternative to just laying your baby flat onto a blanket. Before I has the cushion, I would often use pillows or blankets to push around him when I laid him down so that he would feel snuggled. So this was certainly a good alternative to that!

I wish the middle part of the cushion was more padded on the bottom-side. The cushion is mostly just padded on the outer rim, but the bottom of the cushion is not so much. Continue reading Spotlight On: Snuggle Me Cushion

Don’t Give Up on Babywearing

By Marie Blois, MD, member of API’s Board of Directors

babywearingOne of the biggest mistakes that new parents make is giving up too soon on soft carriers. Because we often do not have real-life models, wearing our babies can initially feel awkward. Babywearing is a learned skill that takes patience, and the best way to become an expert at wearing your baby is to wear your baby often. To help you do that, here are some general tips:

  • All soft carriers should hold baby high and tight for maximum comfort and safety.
  • Baby should be rested and well fed before trying a new carrier.
  • Adjust carrier before handling baby, as babies tend to get very impatient with a lot of fumbling about.
  • While adjusting your carrier, try bouncing baby up and down (small, fast bounces) and shushing to soothe baby.
  • Once your baby is safely in the carrier, get moving! Babies love the soothing motion. Try walking outdoors.
  • Be persistent: Try new positions until you and baby are comfortable. Observe how your baby likes to be carried in your arms and then try to duplicate that favorite position with your carrier.
  • Start with baby’s head out of the fabric and plan to tuck it in when baby falls asleep. Many babies do not like having their head inside fabric.
  • General back wearing tip: Always lean forward while tightening the carrier to position baby high and tight.
  • Practice in front of a mirror until you feel confident.
  • Practice at home, with another person if necessary, until you feel confident.
  • Watch other experienced babywearers – at local Attachment Parenting International groups, La Leche League meetings, or on the playground.

Don’t be afraid to try new positions and new carriers. Your baby will let you know when she is uncomfortable or when she has had enough. Enjoy this time with you baby.

Excerpted from: Blois, M. (2005). Babywearing: The Benefits and Beauty of This Ancient Tradition. Amarillo, TX: Hale Publishing. www.ibreastfeeding.com.

Discuss this topic with other API members and parents. Get advice for your parenting challenges, and share your tips with others on the API Forum.

Babywearing is Good for Babies

By Marie Blois, MD, member of API’s Board of Directors

Babywearing momBiologically, babies need to be carried in order to thrive. Studies have shown that otherwise well-nourished and cared for infants who are deprived of human touch fail to thrive and can even die. Good things happen when baby is carried. Research shows that babies who are held often:

  • Cry less — Studies have shown that the more babies are held, the less they cry. The long-term consequences of letting infants cry without responding are just beginning to be understood. One study found that letting babies cry permanently alters the nervous system by flooding the developing brain with stress hormones. Responding quickly to your crying baby is an investment: the less she cries now, the more peaceful the upcoming year. It’s well worth your effort.
  • Are more calm and content — Carried babies have a more regular respiratory rate, heart rate, and steady internal body temperature. Even very tiny premature babies can be carried safely in a sling without danger of compromised breathing or heart rate. Regularly carrying a baby encourages baby to feel secure and content.
  • Sleep more peacefully — Keeping baby close helps organize his sleep-wake cycles. Naptimes are spent in constant motion, close to mother’s heart and nighttime is dark and still with a loved parent nearby. One study of premature infants found that babies had longer intervals of quiet sleep when they had skin-to-skin contact with mother.
  • Develop better — Babies who are held experience human touch and movement. This stimulation has been shown to have a positive effect on baby’s development. Carrying baby enhances motor skills by stimulating the vestibular system (used for balance). Carrying baby naturally limits the time baby spends in hard plastic carriers, such as car seats, automatic swings, and such. Holding baby while moving counts as “tummy time.”

Our babies are clever. They are born knowing how to signal their biological needs. They root when they need to nurse, smile when they need vital eye contact for optimal brain development, and they love to be held. There are good biological reasons for these behaviors: they help babies survive and thrive.

Excerpted from: Blois, M. (2005). Babywearing: The benefits and beauty of this ancient tradition. Amarillo, TX: Hale Publishing. www.ibreastfeeding.com.

Sibling Spacing: Two Years Apart and Getting Easier with Age

By Melissa Hincha-Ownby, API Resource Leader of Arizona, API’s Technology Coodinator, and API’s Forum Administrator

**Originally published in the Spring 2008 New Baby issue of The Journal of API

Melissa's son and daughter
Melissa’s son and daughter

One of the most common questions that parents ask themselves when they are considering expanding their family is, “What is the ideal spacing between children?” There is no right answer to this question, as what is ideal to one family may make no sense to another.

The answer for our family was two years. My sister and I are three and a half years apart, and while we are the best of friends now, the age difference left us both alone in high school. Based on my personal experience with my sister, I knew that I didn’t want my children quite so far apart.

Although two years was on the maximum end of what my husband and I were hoping for, fate stepped in and had other ideas. Ultimately, my daughter was born when my son was two years and three months old. In hindsight, the 27-month difference has turned out to be great. However, in the early years, at times, things were definitely tough. Continue reading Sibling Spacing: Two Years Apart and Getting Easier with Age

API Members React to Motrin Ad

From API’s Publications Team

Babywearing momThe makers of Motrin received a flood of feedback from parents about the ibuprofen brand’s latest advertising campaign targeting mothers. The ad, which had been released in November, had put moms and dads on the offensive as the ad’s spokeswoman speaks on the so-called (back, neck, and shoulder) pains of babywearing.

The Actual Transcript of the Ad

“Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion. I mean, in theory it’s a great idea. There’s the front baby carrier, sling, schwing, wrap, pouch. And who knows what else they’ve come up with. Wear your baby on your side, your front, go hands free. Supposedly, it’s a real bonding experience. They say that babies carried close to the bod tend to cry less than others. But what about me? Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t? I sure do! These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders. Did I mention your back?! I mean, I’ll put up with the pain because it’s a good kind of pain; it’s for my kid. Plus, it totally makes me look like an official mom. And so if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.”

API SpeaksA link to the ad and messages sent to Motrin, as well as the opinions of Attachment Parenting International’s bloggers, can be found on API Speaks by clicking here: http://attachmentparenting.org/blog/2008/12/18/making-babywearing-work-for-you/.

API ForumsIn addition, this topic is being discussed on the API Forums at http://www.attachmentparenting.org/forums/showthread.php?p=21255#post21255.

Motrin’s Official Response

“With regard to the recent Motrin advertisement, we have heard you.

On behalf of McNeil Consumer Healthcare and all of us who work on the Motrin Brand, please accept our sincere apology.

We have heard your complaints about the ad that was featured on our website. We are parents ourselves and take feedback from moms very seriously.

We are in the process of removing this ad from all media. It will, unfortunately, take a bit of time to remove it from our magazine advertising, as it is on newsstands and in distribution.

Thank you for your feedback. Its very important to us.”

Kathy Widmer
Vice President of Marketing
McNeil Consumer Healthcare