Often when people think of using a sling, they think of the practical benefits that it can bring and there are many, but here I want to highlight many of the emotional and psychological reasons there are to babywear for families experiencing perinatal mental illnesses.
If you are feeling unwell please reach out for support; speak to family and friends and go to see your GP or speak to your midwife, health visitor or other health care professional.
What is perinatal mental illness?
The perinatal period refers to pregnancy and the first year after birth, most of what I will be discussing will refer to the postnatal period, although one or two points may apply to the antenatal period too.
Perinatal mental illnesses include antenatal depression, antenatal anxiety, postnatal depression, postnatal anxiety, postpartum (puerperal) psychosis, maternal OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Anyone can be affected by perinatal mental illnesses, however those with pre-existing mental health conditions are at greater risk. It has an impact on the whole family; mother, father (or same sex parent) and child.
Having a perinatal mental illness and supporting a loved one through can be challenging and lonely, but it is possible to make a full recovery with the right treatment and support.
Each family is unique and their own experience of perinatal mental illness is individual to them. There are lots of ways to treat these conditions and can vary depending on the severity of the illness and symptoms, and of course on the individuals needs and their situation at that time.
Babywearing is not a replacement for medical and psychiatric treatment, but it can support individuals and families experiencing and recovering from perinatal illness in numerous ways depending on the condition, symptoms and personal circumstances.
How can using a sling help?
A sling can help in many different ways for different families, depending on the type of perinatal mental illness and the situation. There may be certain situations where using a sling may not be appropriate, but there are most certainly many where a sling can support families.