LMBB: Babywearing 101

This article was first published on December 5, 2017 at Little Munich Black Book.

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What is the Eierliegende Wollmilchsau of babywearing?

Speakers of the language know all too well that the ridiculously long, daunting German words are a chimera of others, so the term Eierliegende Wollmilchsau comes as no surprise! It refers to an idealistic creature – part chicken, part sheep, part dairy cow, part pig – that provides all the essential German-loved, animal (by)-products: eggs, wool, milk, and pork. More figuratively, the term is used by Germans to denote a single, magical object that fulfills all the needs of a particular situation.

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Our previous babywearing blog post talked about how trendy babywearing has become in Munich, but what’s the best way to get started? How do you make sense of wraps, carriers, slings and all the available options? How do keep your baby from suffocating, from falling, from over-heating… All in all, what is the recommended way to wear a baby?

Unfortunately, when it comes to babywearing, there is no Eierliegende Wollmilchsau – no “one sling to rule them all“ – or wrap or carrier for that matter. Because everyone has personal preferences, a different body type, and physical needs – and let’s not forget how unique each of our little ones is! – finding the right carrier or wrap technique is very individual and can be challenging. However, there are some key points you need to keep in mind when looking for your babywearing option of choice.

Main things to consider

  • How often do I want to wear my baby? – This will help you determine how much you want to invest.
  • How long do I want to wear my baby (to what age)? – This will help you decide if you’d like to find something for the long-term, or just for a newborn.
  • How flexible do I want to be when wearing my baby? – Woven wraps have the most variation for distributing weight, whereas soft-structured carriers can only be worn two to three different ways.
  • What do I want to do while wearing my baby? – This will help you choose between front, side and back carriers, depending on how free you want to hands to be.

Of course, there are many other things to consider in more detail such as materials, what the weather conditions currently are, who might wear the baby other than mom, etc. Many parents think that a soft-structured carrier will be easier to use than wrapping, only to find themselves frustrated by the buckles and pulling the straps! Honestly, the best bet for finding the right way for you to babywear is to try various options.

A safety overview

It has been proven that babies who are carried cry less, sleep better, develop better social skills, and have fewer digestive issues such as spitting up and colic. But remember it’s important to know how to carry your baby in a healthy and safe manner. Here’s a helpful overview which will help you check whether your little one is safe:

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What’s next?

If you want to explore your options before buying, a babywearing consultation or class can be beneficial. Here you can find the easiest and most comfortable way to wear your baby based on your individual wishes and needs without breaking the bank on something you won’t end up using. You can also learn tips and tricks that even the most reputable babywearing brands don’t know!

I’d like to share one of those tricks exclusively with the LMBB community – it’s called the T-shirt Trick. Parents who use full-buckle, soft-structured carriers – such as the Ergobaby, Manduca, Tula (the list goes on…) often complain of back pain, but with this simple trick, that problem is solved! Check it out…

 


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Darby loves that moment when the person with whom she’s speaking German realizes… hey, this chick isn’t German! She’s been here for half her life – and even if she hides it well, she’s a Nevadan cowgirl at heart. She came to Munich to study German literature and ended up staying for good. Having children brought her back to her undeniable cultural roots and although she’s faced various challenges as a mother of children both on earth and in heaven, she finds strength in her calling as a doula, baby wearer and cheerleader for fellow kick-ass, expat mothers. Find her here.

Photo credit: All images property of Doula Darby

 

LMBB: Even after loss… Mia san Mama

This article was first published on October 13, 2017 at Little Munich Black Book.

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October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month and I feel a responsibility to share my own experience of loss with the LMBB community. LMBB shows amazing strength through solidarity: we share and embrace the challenges of our every day, expat, sometimes very hard, lives as mothers. Now is the time to show the mothers among us who have lost a baby that we are not alone in our experience and we will be supported through our struggles.
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When my daughter was born and I became a mother, I realized for the first time what my capacity for love is. I’m sure all of you in the LMBB community can relate. Later, when I lost my son, I learned that grief is actually an expression of that infinite love. Three days after my son’s estimated due date, my doctor confirmed that he no longer had a heartbeat and I gave birth to his little, lifeless body many hours later. My continuous journey, mothering my son without him in my arms, has taught me countless things about life, death and myself. He was stillborn, but I am still his mother, and now I know that even when a mother has suffered such a loss, she is still a mother despite the loss – Mia san Mama.

I hope most of you reading this have not experienced pregnancy or infant loss. For those who have, you are not alone. Whether from miscarriage, abortion, ectopic pregnancy and other intrauterine complications, preterm birth, stillbirth, genetic or developmental complications, SIDS, or any other reasons  – what defines the loss is not the process, but the person you lost – your child. Perhaps better than the official Pregnancy & Infant Loss term (which you will find online) is the acknowledgment that it is baby loss.

Approximately 1 in 4 medically recognized pregnancies end in loss. This statistic doesn’t include those lost shortly after birth or within the first year of life. It also breaks down into different types of loss. The statistic relevant for me is 1 in 160, the number of pregnancies that end in stillbirth. I remember when I first heard this, I was appalled that no one had mentioned it before! I always thought it would be one in thousands. But then I learned that these tragedies still happen in our modern world – what has recently changed has not been medical advancement, but a lack of open discussions about the natural risks of pregnancy.

The Little Munich Black Book community, just over a year old, already consists of over 2,000 members. When I think about this in relation to these statistics, that means that about 500 of us live with baby loss in our everyday lives. For the other 1,500 – yes, we think daily about the babies we lost.

Mia san Mama

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Whether our children live with us on earth or in memory, we are mothers. We are the bereaved and brave. As if it weren’t hard enough already, we grieve in a foreign land, far away from other loved ones, hindered by a language and cultural barrier. Finding support is an insurmountable challenge compared to life as an expat before loss. The moment when we open up about our losses, we expose ourselves to the possibility of misunderstanding, denial, judgment and other harmful reactions. This results in many mothers remaining silent when they could really use all the support they can get.

I feel extremely lucky. When I became a mother, I learned how much love is inside of me – when I lost my baby, I learned how much love is around me. My mommy tribe showed me how much love mothers are capable of giving, not just to their children. Before we were friends, but through sharing my loss, we became family.

Editor’s Note – The International Wave of Light is this Sunday, October 15 – people worldwide will light candles at 7:00 pm in remembrance of babies lost too soon. If you have lost a baby or babies, or someone dear to you has, or if you would just like to show your support – go ahead & light a candle. You can post a photo of the candle to the LMBB facebook group, leave a comment saying “I am 1 in 4” and even share your story if you’d like. Remember there are resources in Munich (in German & English!) for those who have experienced loss, are currently experiencing it, or know a friend who is and would like to hear more about how to show your support. Feel free to contact Darby at www.douladarby.com for more information.


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Darby loves that moment when the person with whom she’s speaking German realizes… hey, this chick isn’t German! She’s been here for half her life – and even if she hides it well, she’s a Nevadan cowgirl at heart. She came to Munich to study German literature and ended up staying for good. Having children in Munich brought her back to her undeniable cultural roots and although she’s faced various challenges as a mother of children both on earth and in heaven, she finds strength in her calling as a doula, babywearer and cheerleader for fellow kick-ass, expat mothers. Find her here.

Photo credit: Feature image by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash / Wave of Light / LMBB image property of Doula Darby

LMBB: Why the thing to wear in Munich is your baby

This article was first published on October 6, 2017 at Little Munich Black Book.

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If you’re a new mom who has managed to maintain a social life as Munich reinvents itself into a hipster city, then you’ve seen the babywearers. You can find them shopping the Fußgängerzone, not giving a second thought to the gravel at Tollwood, and being careful not to drip barbeque sauce on their babies at street-food markets.

Germany’s trend of carrying a baby instead of pushing a stroller is a culmination of two recent cultural developments – a reform of German family policy over the last decade combined with the long incoming renaissance of babywearing in the Western world.

Germany – the Next Generation

At the end of 2005, Germany started its first Große Koalition in almost fifty years, a mother of seven was appointed Familienministerin and on January 1st 2007, the Elterngeldgesetz was born.

Replacing the Erziehungsgeld covering the first 24 months of the child’s life with 300€ per month – regardless of the mother’s previous income – the new and improved Elterngeld pays 67% with a maximum of 1,800€ per month of the mother’s OR the father’s income, which they can distribute among themselves for 14 months over a period of three years. The goal: incentivizing parents in Germany to have children – and meine Götter, did it work!

Since 2007 the birth rate in Munich has continuously broken the record from the previous year, contributing to the Hebammen– and Kita-Crisis we are all familiar with. One thing is for sure, there are babies everywhere right now in Munich, so don’t even think about going to Familientag at Oktoberfest with a stroller!

Return of the Sling

DSC_0256-200x300The other development is subtler: the rise of attachment parenting and the renaissance of the baby wrap have contributed to the booming trend. Carrying a baby in some form of sling is something humanity has been doing for millennia, but since Queen Victoria made the pram fashionable in England at the end of the 18th century, knowledge of babywearing has dispersed.

In Germany, carrying a baby was revived in the 1970’s when a mother named Erika Hoffmann had twins and her hands full. She started using a sling a friend of hers had brought from Central America and was met with such enthusiasm from other mothers that she created the company Didymos – now one of the most renowned baby wrap producers worldwide. At about the same time, Dr. Sears introduced his 7 B’s of Attachment Parenting, including the newly coined term “babywearing.” Parents who were concerned about the physical and psychological development of their babies began to wear their little ones.

How to be Germany’s Top Babywearer

So, what do you get when you combine a baby boom with return-to-the-roots parenting styles? A practical and stylish trend you don’t want to miss! Here are suggestions for strutting your babywearing stuff…

  • DSC_0382-200x300Wear your sling as an accessory. With fashionable designs and a large product market, who wouldn’t want to babywear? There are now carriers and wraps to suit every style and personality… whether your garb is casual or dressy, sleek or vibrant, preppy or punk. Some babywearing brands have been featured in Vogue magazine and there is even a Trachten wrap available from the Bavarian babywearing company Kokadi. So, whatever your tastes, there is a wrap for you!
  • Use your wrap or carrier to get in shape. Sporty mommies can find babywearing exercise classes called Kanga training in the Munich area, so you can get your baby and your groove on. The muscles of your postpartum body will recover in sync with the growth of your baby, so even walks and hikes with your little one will give you the extra edge to feel the burn.
  • Use babywearing to beat Munich’s lack of elevators and scary escalators. Nothing is more practical for the Munich public transportation system and cobblestone streets than going stroller-less. And a wrap, sling or carrier is a must if you’re planning to brave airport terminals and international flights.

Editor’s Note – Need help finding the right wrap, sling or carrier for you? Check out the Tuchfühlung, a shop near Donnersbergerbrücke which offers a great selection of soft & structured carriers you can try. You can find an English-speaking consultant near you using the Tragenetzwerk e.V. interactice map. And of course, don’t forget our very own babywearing consultant, Doula Darby, will be offering more consultations and classes in English in 2018.

 


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Darby loves that moment when the person with whom she’s speaking German realizes… hey, this chick isn’t German! She’s been here for half her life – and even if she hides it well, she’s a Nevadan cowgirl at heart. She came to Munich to study German literature and ended up staying for good. Having children in Munich brought her back to her undeniable cultural roots and although she’s faced various challenges as a mother of children both on earth and in heaven, she finds strength in her calling as a doula, babywearer and cheerleader for fellow kick-ass, expat mothers. Find her here.

Photo credit: All images property of Doula Darby