August 8, 2013

Learning the Lingo, Part 2

Mei Tais and Soft Structured Carriers derive from traditional Asian carriers used by parents and caregivers. The basic form of these carriers are a rectangle of fabric with straps that come from the corners. The rectangle of fabric goes around the baby and the straps can be tied in various ways, with the baby either on the front, hip or back. 

In South West China, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, mei tais are worn, with either a double or single strap, as are Hmong style carriers which are usually beautifully hand-embroidered. In Japan, onbuhimos were used, which are a wrap style carrier made from gauze, cotton, or wool, similar to a mei tai but with a narrower body style.The podaegi originates from Korea and can sometime be called a blanket carrier. 

I am going to concentrate on mei tais in this post. Today, variations have grown tremendously and this style of carrier adapts well to customization. The length and width of straps, appliques, hood or no hood are just some of the choices. Babyhawk, Kozy and ObiMama name just a few of mei tai (MT) manufacturers.

Some advantages of mei tais are:

  • baby's weight is distributed over both shoulders which can make carrying heavier babies and toddlers more comfortable
  • it is easy to use with many different carries
  • back carries are quick and easy to learn
  • there are many beautiful fabrics and it is easily customized

And a disadvantage:

  • Some people find them uncomfortable for long periods; that the straps may dig into shoulders. This be can solved by making sure that straps are kept flat (not twisted) along the entire length. 

Choosing a mei tai can be a little confusing at first. There are many options to choose from, I believe that the options that will affect the comfort of the carrier are the size of the body and the style and length of the straps. 

Body: Most mei tai bodies are available in two sizes, standard and toddler. There are manufacturers that make newborn and preschooler sized carriers too. These sizes are not industry standard and are different for each manufacturer so look into that when making your decision.

Straps: The length of straps is also a decision the manufacturer makes; however, many are now making plus and petite size straps in addition to the standard length. As you increase your level of customization, some makers also offer different style of straps. The most common is padded or not, which is a personal choice. Some people also like wider straps, feeling that this is spreads the weight across more of your back and shoulders.

Additional design features are also available; such as toy loops, hoods, knee padding, neck roll, etc. One feature I generally do appreciate is a hood. This can be used to shade baby's face on a sunny day or support a sleepy head.

A further expansion of the ABC (Asian baby carrier) is the soft structured or buckle carrier. Instead of tying the straps, buckles are used to secure the carrier to the adults body. Ergo, Beco and Boba are just a few of the popular soft structured carriers (SSC). Many of the custom features available for mei tais are also available; in fact may mei tai manufactures additionally offer a SSC version.

Buckle carriers are very popular as an easy, quick baby carrier. These are very good for a fast back carry too. They can require some adjusting at first but this can be accomplished yourself or with someone who has experience.

Mei tais and soft structured carriers are solid carriers and you can get a lot of use out of them. Our Facebook page is great community to get feedback about different vendors and styles. The KangaMama's lending library has several different mei tais and SSCs to try!

As always, please remember that safety comes first; check the seams and buckles before placing baby inside. Give one more bounce to tighten the straps and always remember that baby should be close enough to kiss. 

And now that you made it to the end, how about a contest?

Design a t-shirt contest

Your design must contain the words KangaMamas, Rhode Island, and Babywearing; other wise use your creative genius to design a shirt that helps spread the babywearing word!

How to enter…You can enter as many images as you like. Images must be in one of these formats JPG, PNG, TIF, TIFF, GIF, BMP or PSD and be 1000x1000 pixels. Email images to Images must be submitted by August 31, 2013. The leadership team will choose three to five images and those will be posted to Facebook for member voting. The image with the highest number of “likes” on September 7, 2013 will be declared the winner. The winner will receive a $30 gift certificate to Comfy Joey and a t-shirt.

A little bit of legalize…The design must be your own intellectual property and you must have the exclusive copyright and right of use. This is important otherwise we are not allowed to print your design. If your design gets printed, you grant us the exclusive right of use to print your design on textiles.

October 10, 2012

Babywearing after Abdominal Surgery

Babywearing after Abdominal Surgery
by: Amanda Morin
Birth and Postpartum Doula

In my work as a postpartum doula I have been asked about the safety of wearing babies the first few weeks after a cesarean birth. I read, researched and later wound Moby wraps and Sleepy wraps firmly but gently around mothers’ abdomens, being very careful not to bunch fabric over the incision site and rechecking for comfort. I have fitted ladies with pouches and I have watched newborns nestle into their mothers' chests and seen the satisfied smiles of women who are happy that once they get the hang of it, they feel that they have been given a gift. The oft faithful Google was helpful as I scoured websites, blogs and forums seeking tips so that these mothers could safely wear their babies and yet take care of their own healing bodies. There was a wealth of information on baby wearing after cesarean, so when I searched a few years later for advice on baby wearing after other abdominal surgeries, with an older baby, I was disappointed. There was nothing.
I wore my older son from birth until almost three. We used slings, pouches, wraps, mei tei's and several brands of soft structured carriers. In a pinch he had occasionally been worn in shawls. Fabrics from all over the globe had kept my eldest close to me and it was important that I have the chance to bond with my new baby in a similar way. My journey to become his mother often felt like a struggle and I wanted the ability to hold him without extra hands to help in the event something happened or I was feeling weak.

The day of my son’s birth began with a small trickle of water.

I called my Doctor and Doula.

After a long and sometimes complicated journey to and through this pregnancy this was "it". I felt great.

Strong, confident, womanly - even graceful, though I didn't look it.


I laughed. I was joyful and proud,

Bursting with love.

Fully, no urge to push.

We waited, we laughed.

Finally, I roared.

My son arrived.

I cried, and laughed. "He's so pink, he's so pink!"

Familiar, yet unknown.

I kissed him over and over.

I wanted ice water, saag paneer, to pee and to shower. My loving doula held my son so I could get to the bathroom. I stood and a familiar and terrible heaviness pulled on my cervix. I remember dread and surrender as the blood poured.

Many medications, transfusions and procedures later I awoke in the ICU. Five days later I went home.

For weeks I bled, more trips to the ER, more meds, doctors, and tests.

Three months after giving birth I went into the hospital for a repeat D&C and Novasure ablation, knowing that other measures might be necessary. By this time I would have done anything to stop the bleeding so I could take care of my children and once again become active in my own life.

Due to "profuse uterine bleeding" during surgery and severe damage to my uterus they called in a second obstetrician and preformed a total abdominal hysterectomy.

My surgery was intertwined not just with how I saw myself as a woman but also my feelings of motherhood. For the first five months of my youngest son’s life I needed regular help in taking care of my family and household. I am forever grateful for the meals, the open hands and hearts that sustained us, but I needed to find my feet again as a mother and I thought that finding comfortable ways to wear him would be not only convenient but essential.

Making my transition easier was an incredible amount of carriers to try from my own collection and the KangaMamas lending library. Because there was so little information available online I asked Kristen, of KangaMamas, and my baby wearing friends for advice. I started by making sure I was cleared by my surgeon. I had to wait until 6 weeks after surgery to begin trying to wear him because of his size. Wearing my abdominal binder helped in the beginning. It ensured no fabric would irritate my incision that was still very tender and helped me to stand straighter, which made adjusting the carriers easier.

My pouches didn't fit right. I could get my son comfortably in a ring sling for a few minutes but I felt a lot of pressure around my incision. I also thought the sling was not a good fit for me at first because he was old enough to want to sit up and look around but it made me feel unsteady wearing him to the side. After birth he was not a fan of stretchy wraps but the first three weeks I could wear him after the hysterectomy he tolerated a Moby well enough that I was able to snuggle him through quite a few naps. Help from other people was very important when he started to wiggle and wanted out because I was still somewhat weak and at about 4 ½ months old he was already quite strong. Lifting him out was sometimes a strain on my abdomen and my husband became a pro at lifting him out without his feet hitting my still sore muscles.

I tried Ergos but the belt didn't fit comfortably. My incision site was very numb for an additional two months and the added pressure made it feel weird. A Boba worked better but I could only wear him for short periods of time until the numbness became pain. I wore him a little longer each day in the Boba and loved knowing he was secure and I could once again have two hands to help my older son. When I was able to wear him long enough to walk through our local zoo I felt like I had turned a corner and was healed enough to be like any other new mom.
All of the mei teis and woven wraps that I tried were very uncomfortable. I wrapped and wrapped and hoped it would work for us but I could not get the hang of it and his bum always slipped out. The wraps may not have been broken in enough, but having the material on my abdomen was very uncomfortable. I had wrapped my older child but never as an infant. I was out of practice and even the motions of tightening and bouncing was a bit painful in the beginning. 

Once he was old enough to go on my back and I was spry enough to get him there it all came back. He was comfortable and so was I.I could go to the grocery store, a walk or the park and didn't feel conspicuous. One day while wearing him on my back it just clicked. I felt the moment where it all fit into place and was right. That's what I had always felt before and I had needed to get to that place as a parent again.

The surgery was a year ago now. I have worn him in pouches, ring slings, mei teis, wraps, and many brands of soft structured carriers. Baby wearing has allowed me to not only have free hands but more freedom as a parent. It has given be renewed confidence in my role as a mother. "

August 31, 2012

Guest Post: One Trick Pony

One Trick Pony
by: Leora C.
Here we are; 14 months into baby-life, and I’ve become a one-trick-pony mom.  This may sound self-disparaging, but it’s more of an exciting self-determination. I’ve settled on the one thing that solves most of our problems, my baby carrier. It is my go-to solution for any problem and I mean any problem. So much so, that if a pregnant mom asks me for parenting advice, they have pushed the button for my enthusiastic endorsement of a baby carrier as their solution for everything.

Frantic because friends are coming over in an hour, baby wants to be held, and you want to present some semblance of order in your home? Put her in the baby carrier.

Need to do errands around the house and baby is awake and active? Put her in the carrier.

Need to cook dinner at the same exact moment that you are entering the evening fuss? Put him in the carrier.

Baby is teething and would like to nurse constantly, but you can’t fathom sitting on your couch all day? Nurse while still moving around by putting him in the carrier.

Baby is waking more at night, and wakes up 5 minutes after you put her back in bed? Dim the lights and put her in the carrier.

Need to go to the supermarket and don’t recollect fondly your experience last time:baby was fine at first in the cart’s child seat, then wanted to be held, so you had to hold baby in one hand and push the cart with the other. And as everyone knows, you’ll have the cart with a plastic bag stuck in the wheel, making it veer sideways? Put her in the carrier.

Baby’s napping is off, and only lasts for 15 minutes at a time unless you hold him? Put him the carrier.

Going for a walk around the park and distinctly remembering that the sidewalk inexplicable switches from one side of the street to the other, followed by a muddy set of steep steps? Put him in the carrier.

Trying to type an important email for work and baby would like to help you by banging on the keyboard, potentially sabotaging your reputation? Put her in the carrier.

Baby needs to be walked to sleep and despite your attempt to turn baby weightlifting into your new gym routine, your arms are just tired? Put her in the carrier.

Baby has gas, hiccups or other discomfort that causes him to look into your soul with utter disbelief as you try to put him down to sleep on his back? Put him in the carrier.

Trying to handle two kids at once, and strangely, you still only have 2 arms despite your best wishes? Put one in the carrier (or 2 if you’re graduating to the “one-trick horse” big leagues, but I haven’t gotten there yet.)

This list could go on and on.  Our baby carrier collection includes a pouch sling and a ring sling for easy on off and quick things around the house, 2 buckle carriers – one in the car and one in the house - for an especially quick back carry,  and a woven wrap for ultimate support and sleep-inducing comfort. Any of these will do for the one-trick-pony approach.

I remember the first time I put my daughter in a pouch sling, my mom’s eyes lit up with memories of rebozos everywhere from her life in Mexico before she immigrated to the US. My neighbor insisted that I must be from Liberia, when she saw me with my daughter on my back. I’m not, but it was such a connection of recognition in one another – we did not have to delineate the reasons why having her there was such a wonderful feeling.  We knew.

There’s plenty of writing and research on the increased communication and connection by carrying your child in any of these carriers, but put simply, it can make you feel like a superhero in your little world of baby-life management and comfort. If you are nursing, it removes the “stuck-in-one place” factor and can get you on the move and enjoying the nursing relationship with your child. It builds confidence in both you and your child once you get really good at it, and there’s no wonder it’s done all over the world.

This one-trick-pony may not be hired for a solo show, but any babywearing parent certainly has a world of opportunities ahead. 

August 14, 2012

Learning the Lingo, part 1

There can be lots of lingo in everyday use and then you jump on the internet and it skyrockets. It can be hard to translate even if you know what they're talking about. So here is Kristen's Guide to Basic Babywearing Lingo, part 1:

Click to enlarge
Ring Slings (RS) - a nice basic yet very versatile carrier that is good for newborn to preschoolers. Comprised of one peice of fabric and two rings, the ring sling is an easy carrier to stash in your diaper bag. Popular brands include: Sakura Bloom (SB), Sleeping Baby Productions (SBP), Maya Wrap, Kalea and Comfy Joey. 

Some ring slings do come in sizes; the size of ring slings generally relate to the length of the tail. Each manufacturer has different size specifications and they can be found on their website. In my opinion the size if the sling will relate more to height than dress size and personal preference. Someone 5'4" or shorter might want a small; 5'5" to 5'9" a medium; and someone 5'10" or taller a large.

Here I have Brett (2 years, 30 pounds) in a Maya Wrap ring sling lightly padded, size medium. You can see that his knees are higher than his bum and the fabric is pulled up to his armpits. I wrapped the tail of the sling around the rings. The shoulder could be pulled more down my arm.
Here is the back view. The fabric is spread across my back; giving me nice support and it is more comfortable than having it twisted up.
Here is Brett (1 month, 11 pounds) in a Sakura Bloom, double layer silk. The shoulder is pulled nicely down my arm, the fabric is pulled up to his neck for support, Brett is tummy-to-tummy (and asleep), his head is close enough for me to kiss, and I can see his face to monitor his breathing.

Part 2 will concentrate on the basics of mei tais and soft structured carriers. For now, a fun video:

June 28, 2011

Feeling energized and renewed and a bit about wearing newborns

Coming out of the first year of a new baby is always like coming out of a fog...everything is clear again. So, here we go! I'm planning a ton of fun events...5k walk, raffles, picnics and much more. Stay on the look out for updates and definitely send me your suggestions and ideas.

B has been a dream baby so far. He's happy (most of the time), sleeps well (some times) and eats like a horse (I haven't decided if that is good or bad yet). I've been wearing him in carriers since birth. He loves it and has started picking them up and asking for it. It's been perfect to have him up so I can wrangle L. Even for quick trips inside the store, I swing him up onto my back.

Sakura Bloom Double Layer Silk
B age 3 days
I've gotten a lot of questions about carrying newborns. Before I go on I will state...these are my experiences and opinions, I'm not shilling for any company or saying its going to work for you and you should always practice any carry with any age over a soft area and in front of a mirror. So, I loved loved loved my Sakura Bloom silk ring sling. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing before I actually used it; however, it quickly ended up being my go-to carrier.

  • Pros
    • so nice against baby's skin and mine too
    • super supportive
    • silk is good for summer and winter
    • dresses up or down for the fashionitas
  • Cons
    • silk can be a bit iffy when cleaning
    • no pockets
    • took a bit to soften
With the ring sling, B and I preferred a tummy-to-tummy carry. Easy to slip him in, he could either watch the world or turn in and sleep on my chest. I carried him in the ring sling from birth to 2 months consistently and I will still throw on a ring sling for quick hip carriers.

Girasol #27
B age 6 weeks
Once we reached enough neck support, I switched to a woven wrap for back carries. I prefer a double hammock for almost all back carries...once you have muscle memory it is a pretty fast for newborns and pretty much wriggle proof for older babes. I never fell in love with a particular wrap but enjoyed the Elleville Zara and Girasol #27. I liked carrying B on my back because it allowed me to go about life with babe snuggled close and safe...and asleep.

I did use a variety of other carriers but really did prefer the ring sling and woven wrap with B. When L was a newbie I loved my pouch and Moby. As I am reminded every day, every baby is different.

So that about wraps it up for now...hope to see you at our next meeting (July 16)!

January 2, 2011

First Meeting of 2011!

Welcome to the new year! To start it off this month's topic is Babywearing: 101 and General Safety.

January 15, 1:30 - 3:30

Our meetings are always free. Each meeting does have a discussion topic but we always have time to answer questions and help with carriers. We will be meeting at Bellani Maternity, 1276 Bald Hill Rd, Warwick, RI.

Hope to see you there!

December 1, 2010

Happy Holidays!

We will be taking a break during the holiday season. Meetings will resume on January 15, 2011 at Bellani Maternity.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please email us or post a message on our Facebook page.

Have a happy and healthy holiday season!