Covid-19 has affected us all in one way or another. New parents, and parents to be, have found themselves without the support networks they had expected. We are hearing reports that Mothers are labouring alone, suffering with anxiety during pregnancy and are feeling isolated. Fathers are reporting difficulties with bonding with their child in such a short amount of time in hospitals. Parents with multiple children are expressing difficulties with juggling children at home, either with work, or with siblings.
At Cariad Babi, we are keen to highlight the benefits of babywearing, supporting the increasing research available to caregivers. We are particularly passionate about creating fair access to these benefits across society. We are supported through a grant from The National Lottery to make this possible.
We are now able to offer free sling hire to vulnerable families suffering from the effects of Covid-19. We will hire a suitable sling for a 3 month period, free of charge. This includes postage where a family aren’t able to collect from The PoD, and return postage also.
A family may also seek support from our trained infant carrying consultant on using the sling, free of charge. We are committed to removing barriers to support.
Oxytocin is a hormone secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, a pea-sized structure at the base of the brain. Oxytocin is a particularly important hormone for women. It is a peptide (short chain of acids) produced in the brain that was first recognised for its role in the birth process, and also in nursing. https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/oxytocin
When an infant suckles at his or her mother’s breast, the stimulation causes a release of oxytocin, which orders the body to “let down” milk for the baby to drink.
Families have lost access to support networks, coping mechanisms and their usual ‘happy’ places. Most of us have felt the effects of this in our own ways and juggling home life with new working environments has been tricky. Parents often report that our children’s behaviour changes when we’re out of sorts mentally and emotionally. Oxytocin promotes parent-child bonding. A 2007 study published in the journal Psychological Science found that the higher a mom’s oxytocin levels in the first trimester of pregnancy, the more likely she was to engage in bonding behaviours.
Oxytocin is also found in men, although in smaller amounts. More recently studies have found that men can also undergo hormonal changes when they become fathers, including increases in oxytocin. Evidence shows that oxytocin facilitates physical stimulation of infants during play as well as the ability to synchronise their emotions with their children for men too.
Babies begin producing their own oxytocin even before they are born, and research suggests they respond a lot like adults. Skin-to-skin contact appears to raise oxytocin levels in both parents and infants (Vittner et al 2018).
Another study on school-aged children confirms that big kids can get an oxytocin boost when their parents offer emotional support. Affectionate physical contact does it, as does affectionate conversation (Selzer et al 2010).
Oxytocin is sometimes known as the “cuddle hormone” or the “love hormone,” because it is released when people snuggle up or bond socially. This is a strong benefit of using a sling – to facilitate that bonding and skin to skin for all caregivers.
Free Sling Hire
The term ‘vulnerability’ allows for interpretation as it would be difficult for us to list the ways in which a vulnerable family may be affected, and what it is that makes them vulnerable.
We’d rather limit the risk of exclusion in the absence of a list. We are happy to consider a referees reasoning for the vulnerability of a family.
One way of deciding this would be to ask the family “are you able to otherwise hire a sling if it weren’t for this project, and are you struggling as a result of covid in a way in which a sling will help?”.
There are many benefits to babywearing, from reduced reports of post natal depression in both female and male caregivers, to reduced discomfort from reflux and bowel movement. Here are a few more:
– Babies who are carried are less at risk of plagiocephaly which is where the skull bones at the back of the head are flatterned from prolonged periods lying on the back. Slings are recommended as one solution, also by the NHS.
– Being able to hear the parent’s voice close up and watch their interactions with the world is believed to encourage sociability and language development; and also aids formation of family relationships. – Carrying Matters, Dr Rosie Knowles.
– Using slings increases breastfeeding rates: Pisacane, Alfredo et al, 2012.
– Caregivers report that they find it easier to carry on their normal daily activities when they wear their babies, as both their hands are free and their babies are quickly soothed. Housework, shopping, walking for exercise, and even getting ready for the day feel more manageable.
– Babywearing has shown to reduce both the frequency and duration of crying (Hunziker and Barr 1986) and can improve sleep. A caregiver must never fall asleep while babyweaing, however it is safe for your baby to sleep in the sling, when the airway is well supported.
Our Oxytosling project is aimed to help all caregivers bond with their babies, juggle life ‘at home’ and combat the increased risks of negative impacts from Covid-19.
Phil and Debi Todd have been with us from the beginning, with a generous donation to our crowdfunder for our opening, to slings for this project,.We are very grateful to have Team Slumber-roo on board!
Sarah from Integra has kindly donated extra slings towards our Oxytosling project, as a passionate supporter towards fair access to the benefits of babywearing and we are grateful for her continued support on our journey.
Additional Tula slings for the Oxytosling project have been very kindly donated by Hannah from Harrow slings. Hannah is a babywearing educator based in North West London. We are grateful for her support and to be able to offer Tula slings as part of Oxytosling.
Additional Mamaruga slings have been very kindly donated by Kati, to our Oxytosling project. Mamaruga is based in the UK, taking inspiration from all around the world. You can find the Zensling and Zebulo in our libraries and in this project,
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