Sling it, wing it

I love my new sling.

The fabric is perfect for hot, tropical weather and the bright print reflects the beauty of traditional culture which I love.

Sling in car

This sling was given to me by a dear Indonesian friend who bought it on one of her holidays back to her home country a few months before Roo was born.

Recently my mother in law went to Jakarta and got me this other one.

Indonesian sling

These traditional slings may not be the most fashionable to some mamas but I love them!

They consist of a broad piece of cloth, 86cm wide and 248cm long. The material doesn’t come hemmed at both ends and you could use them as is if you don’t mind the raw edges, but I plan to hem them myself.

The baby is snuggled close to the front of your body and the sling is tightened simply by twisting one end several times and tucking it to form a knot just behind the shoulder. If the baby is carried behind, the knot is tightened at the front of the shoulder.

It took me about 5 attempts to get the knot right and Roo adjusted properly in it. I daren’t carry Roo on my back yet as she’s still so little. Traditional women don’t seem fazed by the size of their babies though; I am told that when carrying their newborns on their backs they just apply the same method of carrying them in front by ensuring that the cloth goes around the back of the baby’s head so that the baby’s neck is well supported.

Here I am with 11 week old Roo. She just had a feed and wanted to be held in her favourite position, but I had to get dinner on so into the sling she went!

Sling carry

My first sling (by Little Haven) is a modern version that is adjusted to fit using two plastic rings. I still use it whenever the traditional one is in the wash. I think the rings make it easier for first-time sling wearers to tighten the sling, but it’s simply a matter of practice before one finds it just as easy to use the traditional sling.

Sling (Little Haven)

My Little Haven sling was a gift from Sweet Man’s cousin when Puppy was born, before I knew anything about slings or their usefulness. As a first time mama, friends would ask me, “Would you like —- as a gift for your baby?”. My answer was always a tentative, “Umm, yeah sure …” because as far as baby care or baby gadgets were concerned, I was utterly clueless about what was necessary or handy and what wasn’t. Saying “Yes” to my first sling was one of the best things I ever did.

Almost 8 years on, the sling is still an indispensable part of my life. I can’t imagine how I’d manage without it.

A sling helps me …

Carry Roo and keep her happy and contented if she doesn’t want to be put down alone, while I homeschool or do chores.

Nurse Roo in public without drawing any attention to ourselves, unlike nursing covers which look like makeshift blankets with little ventilation. In a sling, people mostly think she’s just sleeping.

Put Roo to sleep anywhere, in almost any situation because it mimics the close comfort of the womb.

Feel easier during shopping trips with 4 kids as we don’t have to lug a stroller around. None of my babies have been happy for long enough in a stroller anyway.

A sling also helps me ….

Nurse Roo discreetly and still be able to gaze at her sweet little face. She can look up at me, too.

Hold two little kids’ hands, carry Roo in the sling, and cross the road at the same time.

Get some weight training!

Use a public toilet, with Roo right with me, when I’m shopping alone and there’s no one to help.

Swaddle Roo after she’s finished nursing in it and I don’t want to transfer her to a swaddle blanket (as that might wake her).

Sling wrap

These are just a few things I love about my sling, but the best would be that it helps me nurse Roo unnoticed anywhere, whenever we go out, and I don’t have to waste time expressing milk or using bottles.

The first few times I took Roo out to meet friends or family, people were simply amazed that she was so quiet. She’s had some uncomfortable moments in public like other babies of course, but during those times she was just happy being in her sling!

I haven’t been using the sling as often at home these past few weeks because of the extra hot weather and it can get pretty warm snuggled up in there. Of late the temperature has improved and I’m now using it everyday.

I love my two new Indonesian slings as they remind me of how easily and quickly traditional women get back into the swing of things after giving birth.

Some women in Sarawak villages are out working in the fields just two weeks after having their babies. They simply sling their newborns onto their backs like you would a backpack and get on with work!

Don’t you love that “I can!” attitude? Just do it, mamas!

 

How do you keep your baby happy for a good length of time while you work? Do you use a sling too?

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Toddler nursing, tandem nursing and nursing while pregnant (Part 2)

Piglet’s 35 months now and still nursing. It’s a special time on the whole, but it does have its hairy moments.

I don’t love nursing when it involves sleep deprivation, as it inevitably does in my experience. I survive partly by resting in the afternoons during the children’s Quiet Time. The other part is accepting that this is a season in which Piglet, the only nursling left in our family now, still enjoys nursing. I accept that he needs it – or wants it, especially since his younger sibling is about to arrive.

It’s something he tells me, in his own way, and something my gut mama-instinct tells me too.

Actually, it’s been a personal experiment of sorts. I’ve asked every one of my children questions to test whether or not the function of human milk is solely to meet nutritional needs and whether, when a child is no longer a “baby”, he really has no further need of mother’s milk.

“Why do you still want milk?” I ask Piglet from time to time, “when you also like drinking cow’s milk and kefir?”

“Because I luuuuuurvve your milk,” is his somewhat bashful answer, “and because I luuuuuurvve you.”

What can I say? I could roll my eyes, or I could just say, “Awww….”. Or I could do both. (I do both, sometimes.)

To Piglet, juxtaposing my milk and cow’s milk, it’s obvious I am comparing apples with bananas. To him, Milk and Mama are inseparable entities. It’s been the same with my two former nurslings, Puppy and Lamb. Each of my 3 children have consistently torn Cartesian or Platonic dualism into shreds. My interpretation, at least.

Is it easy, nursing during pregnancy?

Piglet just wraps himself around my growing belly, in whatever posture suits him. Positioning is no longer a concern. He latches on by himself. I nurse him lying down, making it so much more restful for me. He stops when he’s content, but sometimes I tell him I need to quit earlier.

In some ways, it’s difficult nursing when pregnant. Boobs are tender and toddler teeth can feel pretty sharp. Occasionally it can feel excruciatingly painful.

I am also probably one of those mothers whose morning sickness is exacerbated by the hormones produced by nursing. All our 3 children were nursed through subsequent pregnancies and I have felt relentless nauseated, all day, for a longer duration than many women would be. At 36 weeks, I still experience nausea from time to time.

So why do I still do it?

Despite its challenges, exclusive and extended nursing has paid off enormously in our family’s circumstances. We’ve saved a ton on formula and enjoyed the health benefits of kids not having had to see a doctor for years (home nutrition, regular exercise and a lesser amount of exposure to other sick kids also having a major part to play).

Tandem nursing (along with children being close together in age and homeschooling together in their early years) has also helped create a strong sibling bond. When two children nurse at the same time, they sometimes gaze at each other. The older one sometimes strokes the baby and gives him loving pats.

Tandem nursing has also helped taken the edge off the crazy toddler days. As I watch my nurslings together, I get the feeling the older child feels he or she is still important to me even though a new baby has arrived. When needs are met most of the time, there aren’t many reasons to act up. Defiance shows itself on occasion, of course, but that is another story.

With our new addition arriving in 4 weeks, I’m hoping we’ll reap the advantages of tandem nursing once again.

I don’t think extended nursing has made the kids overly dependent on me – but that assumes there is a particular standard to avoid. I’ve never viewed them as being clingy in a negative sense. When they are young, especially in their toddler years, they just need security in a big, scary world full of unknowns.

On the contrary, I’m happy with how independent each of our children has grown to be. I feel some of it has to do with the security they’ve received from self-led weaning.

Of course, notwithstanding my seven-and-a-half years of exclusive breastfeeding and tandem nursing, I feel the overall well-being of children as they grow also depends on the entirety of child care and parenting in general, not on breastfeeding alone. To attribute everything to breastfeeding would be highly simplistic.

My nursing foibles are driven partly by my belief in the benefits of breastfeeding and partly by the peculiar needs of our family. Not by “Are You Mom Enough?” or similar ridiculous ideas. Nursing is simply one expression of the bond I feel with my children and a nurturing act that satisfies the maternal instinct within me, not a point that has to be proved.

I also feel that from a historical perspective, extended nursing is something generations of women have done and I’m simply another one who’s hopped on the same bandwagon.

Sure, it’s become somewhat of a road-less-traveled these days, a little rocky around some bends, but it’s been one amazing ride.

 

Related posts: Toddler nursing, tandem nursing and nursing while pregnant (Part 1); My breastfeeding story and 7 essential breastfeeding tips

I’m a little late, but there’s another post up at MakChic that was inspired by my unexciting bouts of morning sickness. Feel free to drop by and have a read! Managing Morning Sickness: 10 Natural Remedies.

And thanks for visiting! I’d love for you to join me with a cuppa and poke around! If you enjoyed reading, you may wish to follow Mama Hear Me Roar on Facebook or subscribe by email for updates.

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