Science, research, evidence & babywearing/carrying.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my view on science, research and evidence in carrying tends to differ a bit from many people in the world of babywearing/carrying, here’s an attempt to explain why! 😊

Working at a NICU and being a specialist nurse I do have a need to regularly read and digest research and implement new evidence into my daily practice. I find this fun, challenging and an absolute necessity to be able to provide the families with the quality care they deserve. This way of working with science and research is hard to stray from once you’ve gotten used to it. So when we (in my family, with my own kids) started babywearing/carrying I followed the same protocol as always, and I still do when it comes to work as well as babywearing/carrying. The difference lies in what one actually finds, in both quantity as well as quality, and for babywearing/carrying specifically there really isn’t a whole lot of research, so called “nearby” topics or areas however have a lot more evidence to their name. Research conducted strictly on babywearing is limited to a handful of studies, so a lot of the references that gets used within the babywearing world are from research conducted primarly on physical contact, skin-to-skin, kangaroo care or kangaroo mother care, attachment and/or bonding, development of various organs, tissues or parts of the body and so on, it could also be carried out on hospitalized patients or other characteristics of infants (such as gestational age and prematurity, low birthweight, abstinence syndrome and so on).

”Kangaroo position” according to the WHO.

Opinions on whether evidence found in these kind of studies are applicable to babywearing will probably vary from person to person, and on that subject I think I may be stricter than most due to the fact that I do work with some of it as a NICU/Neonatal nurse and therefor may have a higher threshold for considering it applicable on the day to day babywearing practice at home. Since I have seen a intubated 500 gram pre-term baby or an intubated term baby severly ill with meconium aspiration and PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn) being cared for skin-to-skin, and then I do struggle a bit with seeing the similarities with babywearing my perfectly healthy 10 kilo, 1 year old kid home from the playground, on my back, both of us wearing clothes. I get that there is people who do (which is OK to me), I just struggle to do the same. My main problem is (as shows in the text, haha) applying evidence for kangaroo care or skin-to-skin on babywearing, when it comes to physical contact for example my issue isn’t nearly the same.

Littlebrother N, ca 1 year old in a backcarry.

As stated before (in the post “Why do I carry?”) I’ve carried my kids due to practicality and because it felt good and NOT due to science, still haven’t found anyone who does BW because of the science to be honest. Now when I teach, talk or try new things in the babywearing world I rather rely on experience, my own and others. That kind of experience and hands on knowledge is gold and really shouldn’t get swept under the rug just because the community thinks or believes that other areas (such as the healthcare) or people new to babywearing wants it, because in my experience they rarely do… when having discussions with healthcare it may even have quite an adverse effect if we would present “lower quality” evidence for babywearing (as when drawing conclusion from studies on another, however closeby, subject and in discussions with someone who thinks in similar ways as I do).

This leaves me in quite a contradictory position when it comes to science, evidence and babywearing. I love babywearing, I love science, not so sure I love the (at least not the current) science on babywearing. The question I find myself coming back to is why can’t we simply use the gathered experience we have today in the babywearing community? Why isn’t it enough?

What are your thoughts on science, evidence and babywearing?

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