Babies want to be close to their parents and carers; it helps them to feel safe. They cry less when held and rocked and soothed, and will usually fall asleep in their carer’s arms. In arms carrying can be tiring, so using a sling or carrier can make life much easier. Using a carrier bring many therapeutic benefits to babies and carers. It can also be very useful for those at risk of or suffering with mood disorders. Post natal depression and anxiety is very common, even though many families feel unable to tell others how they feel. Babies with disabilities or sick children may benefit enormously from being held close in a carrier.
If you (or your partner or someone you know) are suffering from postnatal depression, or have a child with a serious illness or disability, our Building Bonds Scheme will help you. We will show you how to use an appropriate carrier safely and loan you one for as long as you need. Our support will be free for those in financial hardship and discounted for others. We trust that our loaned carriers will be returned for the benefit of other families.
Mental health matters; there are many avenues of support for those suffering with mental health disorders. Please go and see your GP, your midwife, your health visitor, your local PND charity (here in Sheffield it is Light Sheffield); don’t suffer alone.
Babywearing is not a panacea or cure-all; but it can be one resource in a toolbox for survival. For many, it can simply be a practical solution for getting around and out of the house and able to do things; for others, the act of carrying can be calming and uplifting. There is a hormonal basis to how close contact can help with mood disorders (oxytocin and dopamine), For many, the use of a sling (when the last thing you want to do is hold a baby) can trigger these biological cascades and bring some relief. Arms can get tired holding babies who will only stop crying when cuddled; a sling can make this easier.
It is important to recognise that for some, close contact is not helpful; please do seek further support.
What is the Building Bonds Scheme?
If you (or your partner or someone you know) are suffering from postnatal depression, or have a child with a serious illness or disability, our Building Bonds Scheme is here to help. If you are in financial hardship (eg in receipt of Healthy Start vouchers) we will help you free of charge. We are a volunteer led service (all our sling advisers are trained.)
There are two ways to access the scheme.
Your health care professional can refer you to our service to see if a correctly fitted carrier can be of some help. If you already have a carrier, we will help you learn how to use it safely and confidently; we will not judge you or your carrier.
The referral forms are here.
You can refer yourself or a family member to Building Bonds, please email us to discuss and see what we can do to help!
What will happen once I am referred?
One of the team will get in touch via your chosen method to invite you to attend one of our weekly drop in sessions free of charge, and if you are also in financial hardship (e.g in receipt of Healthy Start vouchers) we will do our best to provide you with free carrier hire.
If you find large groups or drop in sessions intimidating, we can make sure to invite you to a less busy session or we can arrange for you to visit us at a quieter time. We can on occasion offer home visits for especially difficult circumstances, but please note this may incur a charge.
What happens to the carrier I am loaned?
You can use it for as long as you find it helpful, and when you no longer need it, please return it to us so we can help another family. If you find the carrier doesn’t meet your needs any more (eg your baby has grown out of of the stretchy wrap), do let us know. We may be able to find you an alternative or show you how to use your carrier in a different way.
Children who are sick or disabled (and their parents!) may find that being carried in a sling makes life easier and brings reassurance.
Read this Northern Irish study showing the impacts of babywearing on those suffering from postnatal depression.