20 weeks into my pregnancy, I have had the anomaly scan and I am given a reassuring result. Like many first time parents, I am ready to start hitting the shops and ticking off the gigantic list I have of things I have deemed necessary to purchase to give my baby the best start in life. We all want the best for our newborns and like myself, it is easy to walk into Mothercare or Mamas and Papas and mistake this for being at the bottom of our wallets. In fact, an average of nearly £2000 is spent by first time parents during pregnancy in preparation, and there are even huge events around the country to provide you with a platform to see everything on offer.
Is any of this really necessary? The answer is largely no.
Apart from nappies, a collection of second hand clothes, and a car seat, in the first 12 weeks of life, all a baby really needs is its primary caregivers. These first 3 months are termed the fourth trimester and the best way to describe the needs of your baby during this time is to understand that they have been born too early in their development, and their environment needs to mimic the womb in as many ways as possible.
They need to be able to;
- Hear your heartbeat
- Use your warmth to maintain their body temperature
- Feel close to their food supply.
This is not going to be achieved in the latest pram, or indoor object designed so you can put your baby down for a swing or vibrating massage. How I regret the £600 and the time I spent choosing the perfect pram in the hopes of giving my baby the best, only for it never to be used.
Without books or the internet our ancestors have used their basic instincts to understand what their newborn babies wanted and needed. I can safely say they did not put them down in a corner of the cave. Instead they either carried their babies themselves or had help from a member of the group. Unfortunately, many of us in the Western world do not live with our extended families and of course we need to be able to put our babies down safely to wash and dress when there is nobody else around. For the rest of the day to enable you to carry your baby with ease and comfort a sling library will suggest you use a form of carrier.
How does carrying a baby through the 4th trimester benefit the wearer?
- Gentle rocking motion of your breathing and walking encourages babies sleep
- Helps to establish breastfeeding
- Aids bonding
- Reduces baby blues and postnatal depression
- Able to go about your activities of normal daily living.
The most widely used in the first 3 to 4 months is a stretchy wrap. This is a long piece of stretchy material that can be wrapped around your body at the beginning of the day and your baby can be taken in and out. A two-way stretch stretches in two directions and is the easiest to use in the beginning in comparison to the one-way stretch. This is because it is easier to tighten and get the best fit. The stretchiness of the fabric allows your baby to be in the most natural position possible, mimicking the curled foetal position they have been in for the last 9 months. If you want the best start for your baby I suggest renting or purchasing a carrier from a sling library and attending the 4thtrimester talk and demonstration.
By Dr Sarah Spiteri, peer supporter at Salisbury Sling Library