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Emporte-Moi: Best Babywearing Educator in Canada 2018

A huge thank you to everyone who works helping parents in their communities. I am very pleased to announce this year’s Best Babywearing Educator is Mai-Anh from Emporte-Moi. Congratulations!!

Emporte Moi

Educator: Mai-Anh
Webpage: Emporte-Moi
Facebook: Mamasupial Montreal

 

 

 

  • I have a feeling I only know a small amount of what Mai does. I know she has her own business and babywearing group, but I don’t know her through her local efforts. She started a private babywearing group for mothers interested in babywearing that are also physicians. This has connected mothers who will learn about babywearing themselves but also share with their patients.
  • This is a very active group with over 3300 members and Mai has worked over many years, building up valuable FAQ resources to share and educate from the best babywearing practices) – ie. water safety, babywearing preterm infants, etc. I am also an admin within this group, along with a handful of other educators, but she should be commended for her continued passion and support for fostering new babywearers and helping experienced ones as well.
  • Mai answers nearly every question within her groups, which is impressive considering she is also a physician herself with a busy schedule. She is also fully bilingual.

 

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Educators who also work really hard to support parents in their communities. Thank you for all the work you do.

Little Hands and Me Parenting Network

Educator: Tanya
Webpage: Little Hands and Me
Facebook: LittlehandsandMeParentingNetwork

  • Tanya is the most patient and kind person I have ever met, no question is too small or stupid. She helps you understand how you should carry your baby securely for both yourself and your child. She takes the time to explain why it is important, and focuses on the safety and comfort of both the person carrying and the child being carried while working with what you have. I truly do not have enough words to say how wonderful Tanya is. On a side note, she has helped so much with my mental health after having a baby, and for that I will be forever grateful. She would be a very worthy recipient of any award for helping mothers.
  • Tanya is an amazing person, with such dedication, commitment and passion for what she does regarding early child education and parenting. She works hard in her community to offer wonderful programs that support parenting and child communication, amongst an array of other education efforts. Her dedication and effort really shows an amazing talent and is well appreciated by all the people who participate in her classes.
  • Tanya is tireless in her effort working with families in the Saskatoon area providing valuable information related to feeding baby, safety, and connecting during the early informative years. Not only has she helped others but remains open minded and searching for new material, courses to always improve upon her knowledge base. She has an interest and is certified in positive discipline which i feel is especially important is creating ” conscious” adults of the future!

 

Porter la Vie

Educator: Janie
Webpage: Porter la Vie
Facebook: Projet.Porterlavie

  • Janie s’implique énormément dans le domaine du portage au Québec. En plus de son école qui forme des monitrices et aux parents. En plus, elle offre ces formations dans les deux langues officielles. Elle travail dans ce domain dès 2007. ENGLISH: Janie is very involved in babywearing in Quebec and started her school in 2007. Her school trains professionals, yet Janie also continues to work with parents in supporting them in their babywearing journey. Her courses are offered in English and French as she is fully bilingual.
  • Elle nous transmet les nouvelles informations dans le domaine et partage ce qu’elle apprend dans ces voyages. Recemment elle vient d’aller à Rome pour la première conférence en portage Italienne (1 convegno italiano sul babywearing). ENGLISH: She works to ensure we receive the latest informations in the field of babywearing and including what she learns in her travels. She recently went to Rome to present as part of their first babywearing conference.
  • Établissement de l’Institut National du portage des enfants. Le bût serait de combler des études dans le portage. ENGLISH: She is working with a group to establish the Institute National du portage des enfants. The goal would be to support the expansion of babywearing including studies.

 

Raising a Little

Educator: Lindsay
Webpage: Raising a little
Facebook: Raisingalittle

  • Lindsay is awesome and always willing to help. Whether it be answering questions in person or via social media, adjusting carriers or just being a listening ear. Lindsay has helped me adjust my carrier on many occasions. She loves what she does and doesn’t ask for anything in return.
  • Lindsay is an amazing person. So personable and truely cares about other people, parents, children and their wellbeing. She is so easy to talk to and has so much knowledge. Lindsay has grown her business so much over the past year because of how honest she is.
  • Lindsay helped me by finding the right carrier for my son and I. She made sure I knew how to use it properly and even came to my house to make things easier for me. She deserves to be nominated because she works hard and strives to make her customers happy. She is super friendly and knowledgeable about what she does!
  • Lindsay helped me find the right carrier for my little, my 6’2” husband and my 5’2” self! Our little is only 8lbs and is curious about the world. We need a carrier safe for now and down the road that she could safely view the world around her.

Honourable mention

Educator: Cindy
Works for: Birdie’s Room
Babywearing group member / support: Halton-Peel Babywearers! and Mississauga Babywearing Community

  • I first met Cindy on one of the many babywearing playdates she organizes along with babywearing hikes. Her kindness and encouragement helped me, along with anyone new to babywearing, feel comfortable and at ease.
  • She’s always willing to go above and beyond with answering questions or giving tips and advice, often on her own time (outside of “business hours”).
  • I think she derserves to be recognized for the amazing person she is and the wonderful job that she does.

 

But what about Europe – babywearing and cycling abroad

Let’s not pretend we’ve never seen people cycling while babywearing in other countries. Because we have, especially if you have friends from the Netherlands, China, African countries or from other countries.

Are our perceptions accurate, are they really radical in Europe? We often see large promotions from both Denmark and the Netherlands about how great their biking infrastructure is such that I know that what these countries do is used to determine what might work here. 1

Needless to say, Canada does not have a biking culture, nor are we a small country like those in Europe whose winter conditions are basically NIL compared to ours.

So what is a biking culture? We have people who cycle, and cycle extensively, what do you mean we don’t have a biking culture? What are we lacking?

Proper and extensive bike lanes. The thing that keeps cyclists safe above all others is to separate cycling traffic from other vehicles. Bike lanes in all the cities I’ve been to in Canada are either non-existent, leaving you to share the road and they are non-continuous if they do exist. Our bike lanes often do not continue from one road to another. We even have some really weird examples in my home town, where a lane will go for two or three blocks, then disappear. It’s the most useless thing ever. A concrete example of this can be found in in this CBC article that shows the gaps in the urban cycling infrastructure in Ottawa .

Another thing that’s important in a cycling culture, are drivers who are used to having cyclists everywhere. And this is important. Cyclists are fast, they honestly don’t understand the blind spots a driver has, and they don’t behave like cars do. There is also no licensing or training requirements for cyclists, which means the onus is on the drivers. Our drivers simply aren’t used to keeping an eye out because cyclists aren’t a regular part of our everyday driving experience. In the Netherlands, drivers are trained to watch for cyclists. There’s even a campaign, videos and website to teach people about the Dutch reach, a technique of using the hand opposite the driver’s door to get out. It forces you to twist your body to see what’s coming up beside the car to prevent dooring, when a car door opens and knocks a cyclist down. It is taught in drivers tests in the Netherlands.2 See the video below.

But do Europeans really cycle while carrying children?

Some do. Some don’t. I have an extensive international network, so I asked some of my friends to help me out.

In Germany, Laura Dingel who works as a babywearing consultant in Munich, told me the following. Babywearing while cycling is not illegal, it is a gap in the law. In Germany, it is recommended that children wear a helmet, and the Allgemeine Deutsche Fahrrad Club (ADFC – in English, General German Bicycle Club) writes that parents are liable if they use a baby carrier on the bicycle and they might be subject to a fine if it is deemed dangerous. 3  Also, as a babywearing consultant Laura doesn’t recommend any activities where you can fall from a certain height or others can crash into you while babywearing.

Laura goes on to say, “That’s common sense in the German Babywearing scene. If you do so, it’s your own responsibility and you know it’s potentially dangerous.”

In speaking to Katie Nicolai, who works at Bindung trägt and also runs the babywearing group Tragegruppe Oberhausen, she explained to me that the fine for being caught cycling and babywearing is rather small, the charge is only 5 Euros. Moreover, it is rare to see someone be fined. Therefore, does not act as much of a deterrent.4

And I know that some Germans do babywear and cycle in Germany because I found this babywearing shell for cycling had been designed. Full information can be seen here.5

But this design was heavily criticised and it is fair to say that many Germans would be against babywearing on a bike. Most choose to use a bike trailer or bike seat.

And what about Scandinavians?

Amalie Apitzsch, admin for the large Danish babywearing group Slyngegalleriet and one of the planners of the Dansk Baerefestival told me this:

There are no explicit laws against babywearing while biking in Denmark, but there are general laws describing how to transport younger kids. The laws translates like this:

It is Article 25 of the cycling order that states:

  • PCS. 1. Bicycles may not carry more people than they are intended for. Children not older than 7 years must only be taken on the bike when special seating is provided for them.
  • PCS. 2. Special seating for children must be adapted to the weight and height of the child and there must be a guard against the wheels.
  • PCS. 3. Children who are taken by bicycle must be properly tied to their seat.

Essentially, they do not promote it in the Danish babywearing group for these reasons.

MariLaura Sjalig, a long time babywearing consultant from Norway, has this to say:

“It is not recommended in Norway. For children over 8 month’s that can sit in a bike seat, it is not illegal, but you are responsible if anything happens. In my opinion, though you change the center of gravity and the steering of the bike alot more in using a bike seat than if you have the babe in a carrier when biking. But we can still ski and babywear though. We have used bike seats for at least 50 years, so their use is culturally ingrained.”

It is not hard to find evidence of cycling and carrying on the internet. Googling and searching in Pinterest pulls up more than a few examples. But when you look deeper, many of the links are dead ends. I tend to think one of two things when I see this, perhaps the parents aged out of babywearing and they took their pictures down, or that they were possibly pressured into taking them down. Discussions of cycling and babywearing do happen regularly enough on Dutch babywearing groups like Draagpraat on Facebook.

The discussions in the Netherlands on whether to cycle while carrying can get a little hot and heavy. The focus can be on accessibility. Many do not have driver’s licenses in the Netherlands, and taking a bicycle is often faster, easier and more efficient than taking public transportation. Equally important, it costs nothing to do so. Plus, their weather isn’t as harsh as ours and using a bicycle can be faster and more convenient than taking a bus or using light rail options.

I also found additional opinion pieces from Selma Langbroek, a consultant in the Netherlands who looks at both sides of the equation. Dutch legislation is like Canada’s in that it requires the feet be against a surface, and so on. Read more in this article.

Selma’s points can be roughly summarized as follows:

    • Babies without head support cannot be put into a bike seat.
    • It gives the parent back a bit of freedom; you can travel longer distances more easily.
    • A bike seat is not necessarily that supportive for babies. And babies recline too much in a bike trailer.
    • Best done while backwearing to prevent injury from the handlebars.
    • Cycling feels familiar and it feels safe.4

Accessibility is important. Extremely so. Here is another link where this Dutch mom who cycled with her baby in the sling with her oldest child to school. She felt it was liberating and much easier to get on the bike, off the bike, her eldest sorted and into the building, and back home again. The general consensus if that if you cycle and babywear, it’s best done on quieter paths and streets.

Then if we expand our consciousness, and look at places on the African continent, owning a bicycle is really liberating and allows people more freedom. They can access services, travel around and go further than they do on foot. When you start looking at things in this light, babywearing and biking can also be about granting dignity to people. There are even charities which fundraise to provide bicycles just for this purpose.

The Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia is all about empowering disadvantaged Namibians through sustainable transport like cycling. Known as BenNamibia.

 

Watch the video form more information.

Many Canadians have connections to other places, other cultures and we should always be open to learning about them. Most Europeans are against cycling and many of their laws mimic many of ours, some Europeans like to cycle while carrying because it is such a natural part of their life. And then to others, like BenNamibia, cycling is about accessibility and dignity.

Because of the above about our culture, policies and laws, I believe in taking the conservative approach on babywearing while cycling in Canada.

And yes, for those who are interested. There are no studies showing the impact of babywearing while cycling.

Do you have anything to add? Comment below! Please read our other cycling articles Cycling and Babywearing – yes or no and the next one called Benefits of cycling for families.

A huge thank you out to people in my network who provided their time, expertise and in some cases their translation skills. Those not included in the article who helped me out also include Wendy and Ariel.

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Footnotes
1. The Danes do have an extensive cycling infrastructure, but also a concern for preserving their biking culture. The number of Danes who own and use cars more regularly has increased over the past few decades. To understand a bit more, take a look at this document where they provide an extensive analysis.
2. There is an entire website whose sole focus is educating people on the Dutch reach method.
3. Directly from this website:
In Babyschalen können Eltern Säuglinge schon früh im gut gefeder-ten Anhänger transportieren, wenn sie langsam fahren, Kopfsteinpflas-ter und Unebenheiten meiden. Nicht geeignet sind Rückentragen und Tragetücher. (Not suitable are backpacks and slings) Das verbietet die StVO zwar nicht, aber Hersteller schlie-ßen meist den Gebrauch auf dem Fahrrad aus. Im Schadensfall haften Eltern vollständig selbst.

3. Katie quoted me this from the above link: Sie beförderten auf dem Fahrrad ein Kind, obwohl die vorgeschriebenen Sicherheits¬vorkehrungen nicht vorhanden waren.” 5 Euros.
4. Another cycling piece from Germany that features this shield. On this website, we see an image of a mom babywearing on a bike in Berlin.
5. Use google translate to visit Draagtips website – Selma has written at least two pieces on cycling and babywearing: Dragend fietsen is het veilig and Dragend fietsen mag nou wel.

Cycling and babywearing – yes or no?

Should you cycle while babywearing your child in Canada?

Babywearing comes down to two basic things – first is keeping a child secure in the carrier, with airway safety being the very first consideration, second is preventing falls.

But it’s not always the baby we’re trying to keep from falling. Which means that baby carrying is also about controlling the adult to keep the baby safe. Which means the adult has to mind their speed, stability, all while managing obstacles while carrying.

When cycling, the most important thing to mind is protecting the baby in case of a fall. Helmets contribute greatly to injury prevention while cycling. Below is information from a website maintained by Chris Gilham, an Australian journalist. Currently, most provinces and territories require helmets be worn.1

  • Alberta: Minors
  • British Columbia: All ages
  • Manitoba: Minors
  • New Brunswick: All ages
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: All ages
  • Northwest Territories: No law
  • Nova Scotia: All ages
  • Nunavut: No law
  • Ontario: Minors
  • Prince Edward Island: All ages
  • Quebec: No law but education programs available
  • Saskatchewan: No law but education programs available
  • Yukon: No law

I also spoke to Kendra Runions, a feeding support consultant in Eastern Ontario2. She worked for 2 years selling specialty safety equipment for power sports applications and some of the families she helped had riders were as young as two years old.

When I asked Kendra about helmet wearing, this is what she said:

“I could easily write a novel on just helmet wearing. Is it a correctly fitted helmet? Is it optimal materials to withstand the most
likely crash scenario?

  • Has the child’s skull developed enough to wear the style of helmet you’ve chosen?
  • Where was it purchased?
  • What is it’s rating type?
  • Do you understand the difference in ratings and where they test protection?
  • How old is it and where was it stored? Even if it looks perfect it has a shelf life.
  • Do they understand how tight it really does need to be?
  • What about the neck?
  • Has the baby been tension tested and can they even suppport and balance the helmet?

All of these factors should be in play when choosing a helmet from tricycles to tobaggans and dirt bikes.”

Do you feel adults can gauge whether a helmet is properly fitted and safe for their child?

“No. Honestly a lot of adults don’t know even how to fit a helmet for themselves. An incorrectly balanced and fitted helmet can cause a more severe injury than would have been originally sustained even in a relatively minor accident. I’m talking tip over and fall accident. All of these factors should be in play when choosing a helmet for everything from tricycles to toboggans to dirt bikes.”

What happens to the body dynamic forces when a baby is worn on the body?

“First off your center of gravity is shifted. I’ve consistently warned adults of having other adult passengers because there is some input required for manoeuvering and if your passenger does the wrong thing it can definitely throw you off enough to cause an accident. Now just think of how unpredictable kids are, along with having their leverage points reduced when wrapped or carried and just basically being too short for their legs to reach anything.

Velocity, distance, gravity, pretty much every force could potentially be encountered based on what type of accident could occur. The possibilities are literally endless.”

What about if the baby is worn on the back?

A back worn child is actually what I picture by default. Everything I have mentioned is at play. This is where I want to note that in the event of most accidents, especially low speed, think under 5 km/hr, your back passenger will end up off the vehicle before you. There are many scenarios in which the driver will remain with the vehicle but the passenger will not. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. In order to absorb impact and mitigate potential damage to the human body its better on us to take space to stop v.s. one fast and sudden stop. Everyone has heard “tuck and roll”. A back worn child cannot break free from the adult to do this. Any adult with a child strapped to them is no longer the correct shape for their own body to make the adjustments it
needs to maximize their own injury protection. The adult will most likely be fighting base protective instincts in order to try and shield the child.

Can you always protect your baby in case of an accident? NO.

Think about the difference if you fall while walking, versus if you fall while biking. Now add a baby in the mix on a parent’s back or even in the front. It changes the centre of gravity, which with experience you can accommodate for, but it also adds a weight. If a back pack can go flying off your body when you get into an accident while cycling, or you crush it with your body, think about replacing that very same backpack with the weight of a child.

Additional to the information from my interview with Kendra, here is an excerpt from iBike, an American organization centred around cycling information and safety about cycling while babywearing:

“The conservative approach is that taking an infant on a bike in a backpack has risks and is potentially dangerous — and it is illegal in some jurisdictions.  Some of the issues are:  The center of gravity is higher; if you wear helmets, your helmets may banged together; the child is quite vulnerable in a fall because the distance is higher and there is a greater chance of the infant ending up underneath the adult in a tumble; and the backpack provides less protection than a child seat or trailer.  Slings would present similar issues, though in is a sling the child is lower down and their head is better supported, so it unlikely for the adult and child to bang heads — it is also unlikely that the child would be wearing a helmet.” 3

So to go back to my initial question, should I babywear and cycle in Canada? My answer is NO.

Should you cycle with your babes? Absolutely YES!

There are many great ways to cycle with your kids. You can use a trailer until they are old enough to sit unsupported, at which point you can move to a bike seat, as Lauren has with her child here. Lauren lives in Ontario.

Trailers can be be found for affordable prices on second hand boards, and now is the time to start looking. Often, you can buy a trailer or bike seat and then use the money from the resell to by your children their first bike.

 

 

Thank you to Kendra from FullCircleFeeding.com for providing us with her expertise for this article. Please read our other cycling articles Babywearing and cycling abroad and the Benefits of cycling for families. .

 

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Footnotes
1. This website tracks all bicycle helmet laws from countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. You can check it out here. For more about bike helmet legislation in Canada, visit the Canadian Pediatric Society here.
2. Kendra is the owner of Full Circle Feeding, a business that helps families with breastfeeding, chest feeding, and just feeding their babies. They specialize in working with traditional and non-traditional families. From her website, “Non traditional family unit? Grandparent feeling out of touch? Nervous new father feeling left out?” Visit their website for more information.
3. To read more about what iBike has to say about early helmet wearing and babywearing while cycling, visit this page here.

2018 BWICAwards – Nomination time

 

It’s time to CHOOSE your favourite babywearing educators for this year’s awards!

Have you been helped by someone in your babywearing journey and you’d like a chance to thank them? Nominate them for the 2018 #BWICAwards!!!

Submit your chosen favourites for any of the following awards! Each bullet point is a link to the nomination form, click on the underlined section to get to it. You can nominate to multiple categories.

1. Best babywearing educator.
2. Best Canadian babywearing group: In your opinion, which is your favourite babywearing group? One that holds the best meetings, offers the best support, or the most interesting conversation?
3. Best Canadian blogger, best videos, anyone you enjoy following on the internet.
4. Best Retailer / store.

Soyez à l’aise. Je suis complètement bilingue et incrivez-moi en français. Je fera la traduction pour le vote.

Nominees will be chosen by committee using these criteria:

  • How they have helped people in their community.
  • If they have behaved with complete professionalism.
  • Have actively worked or supported the babywearing community in the past 12 months within Canada.

BWICweek 2018 is COMING

BWICweek is full of fun this year, and includes the return of the Babywearing in Canada educator awards – do you have an event you’d like to register? Register it today! Events must take place between May 18-26, 2018, to qualify.

Check out last year’s official events: 2017.

By registering an event that takes place anytime between May 18 to May 26, 2018, you are entered into our prize draw.

Events can include:

  • A walk or hike
  • A picnic
  • Going to a community event or festival
  • Playgroup
  • Group gardening
  • and anything that has you enjoying your community with a group of like-minded babywearers.

Officially register an event  using the contact form below, up to three events are allowed per planner, and each event will qualify you for an entry into our giveaways.

Your Name*

Your Email*

Province, territory or region of the event

Babywearing group or business name, if applicable

City* (write internet if internet only event

Event name

Event date*
BWICweek runs from May 17-25, 2019

Event location & time (small events with friends count!)

Details about your event!

Website or event link

Last minute shopping

Are you still looking for that last minute gift to give? Or something to suggest to someone else?

Consider taking a look at these carriers I explored this past year that are new to the babywearing world.

Looking for something unique in Canada? The LennyLamb Up is perfect, a blend between their baby and toddler sizes, this will meet your needs through out your entire babywearing life. See the featurette I did below while attending the Babywearing Conference in Poland. Want to learn more about LennyLamb, read this article about my visit to their homebase! Lenny Lamb can be purchased in Canada at Lollipop Sky, specializing in many baby carrier brands.

 

There’s also the Sleepbelt or JoeyBand. Though not a baby carrier, it is a great gift to give to new parents who are expecting, and can be easily added to the birthing bag for home, hospital or birthing centre. Perfect to keep the baby on you while seated, it is also very useful to help attach the baby to the mom after a c-section.

 

Here’s the Flexia by Babylonia Slen. It is a structured carrier with an interchangeable body so it can grow as your baby grows. Extremely innovative and comes in some classic colours. It can be ordered from any of their stores, like from HetKnooppunt.nu in the Netherlands or directly from Babylonia itself.

Or know someone who is expecting twins? Consider the innovative twin carrier by MiniMonkey.

And finally, the newly redone toddler flip by Kokadi.

 

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day (PAIL)

October 15 2017 is the internationally recognized Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Awareness Day.  For many women, the excitement over a positive pregnancy test doesn’t lead to that picture perfect moment of mom and baby cuddling and, in fact, an estimated one in five (other estimates say one in four) women will experience miscarriage or pregnancy loss in her lifetime.

Tonight is the International Wave of Light to mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  At 7:00 pm in time zones around the world, people will gather to light candles to create a wave of light in honour of the butterfly babies, those who were lost during pregnancy or shortly after birth. We ask the candle be lit for an hour, to make this light burn brightly for a 24-hour period around the globe in memory of all the babies who were lost.

I have experienced loss. My story begins when my husband Rob and I decided to start a family in 2013.  We experienced a miscarriage at 10 weeks with our first pregnancy.  This loss made me realize that becoming a mother happened the moment I found out I was pregnant. While I was treated for the physical effects of the miscarriage, we were not provided with any support service referrals. Which had a large impact on us at the time, especially since we did not know that programs such as the PAIL Network existed.  The PAIL Network is dedicated to improving bereavement care and providing support to families or individuals who have suffered the loss of a pregnancy or the death of their baby/babies.

December 2015, a private member’s bill was passed in Ontario proclaiming October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. This is second year it is commemorated. The bill sought to promise resources and support, as well as better research into perinatal loss and infant death. The Ontario-based Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network has done research on the needs of families experiencing pregnancy and infant loss and has found that although women are treated medically by healthcare professionals, they are not treated for the psycho-emotional aspects.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada estimates that approximately 7/1000 babies in Canada are still born. Yet such experiences are largely misunderstood – they are rarely discussed in public and during prenatal care. A 2015 US study found that the general population believes miscarriage occurs in just 5% of all pregnancies, and that most often the cause is due to choices and actions of the mother.  This misunderstanding about the prevalence and causes of pregnancy and infant loss generate and create a strong taboo, leaving families and individuals to experience their grief largely in isolation. In the case of a fatal diagnosis during pregnancy, stillbirth and infant loss, referral by medical practitioners is more common but often in the context of a traumatic and overwhelming time-strained consultation. Parents are not always provided with the time to process their grief.

In 2016, we decided to add again to our family. We passed the 12 week mark and I breathed a sigh of relief.  After a routine ultrasound at 19 weeks, we found out that our son Aaron had no kidneys and that there was no chance that he would survive after birth. We were told that termination was the best option and that it must be done quickly. We were devastated, but after hearing his strong heartbeat and seeing his profile that looked so much like Gabriel, our son from our second birth, we decided to continue the pregnancy.

We were only referred to the Perinatal hospice program at Roger Neilson House after making this decision. The Perinatal hospice program at Roger Neilson House is a nurturing and safe place for families and individuals who have received a heartbreaking fatal prenatal diagnosis that will result in the death of their baby prior to, or shortly after birth.  These parents have access to specialized care and support at Roger Neilson House. Support includes counselling, and emotional support to help parents make medical decisions about the pregnancy, delivery and the baby’s care, assisting with memory making (such as photographs) and ongoing bereavement care. We spent 100 precious minutes with Aaron after birth in June 2016.  It was sad and hard, but it was beautiful. You can read our full story here. Roger Neilson House also offers a Perinatal Loss Bereavement Support Group. This group is available for parents who have lost a pregnancy beyond 20 weeks gestation, or an infant aged up to 28 days.

Many families have found this journey and the support offered through the Perinatal Hospice program to be very meaningful and healing.

Aaron’s Butterfly Run Ottawa/Gatineau was held yesterday in Ottawa to raise awareness for pregnancy and infant loss, and this wasn’t just any old kind of run. Aaron’s Butterfly Run is aiming to provide support and share resources in our community with those who experience pregnancy and infant loss. At Aaron’s Butterfly Run, we are doing everything we can to share our personal experiences and communicate with others about the pregnancy and infant loss resources that already exist in our community.

Through a grant from Just Change Ottawa, we are partnering with Mom Friends to create the Butterfly Box. This box will be a resource that is available at no cost for parents who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss in Ottawa/Gatineau.

If you are grieving because you have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss, please know that I am thinking of you tonight as I light a candle in memory of my two butterfly babies. Please join us during the International Wave of Light today at 7:00 pm to light a candle in memory of all the butterfly babies. Leave the candle burning for at least an hour and create a ‘wave’ of light spanning the globe in honour of babies who were lost during pregnancy or shortly after birth.

Amy’s breastfeeding journey – mom of many

I always knew that I wanted to be a mother of many, actually always wanting at least 7! However when we got babies six and seven together (twins!), my husband and I decided to have one more.

From day one, I knew I wanted to birth them all at home and I knew with out any doubt in my mind I wanted to breastfeed. I was determined growing up, I had many role models – my mom spoke of stories of my great grandmother birthing her babies at home on the reserve and stories about our great great grandmother who was a midwife on the reserve. I belong to the Ojibwe First Nation.1 My mom always answered my questions about breast feeding and spoke of the importance of breastmilk even if it’s in the first few feedings. I remember watching her nurse my youngest brother. My mother’s best friend who is like my Aunt was also a doula while I grew up and taught me so much about birth and breastfeeding before she became a midwife herself as I began my journey as a mother.

I didn’t start my family the typical way, I was young and only 15 when I got pregnant.  Although because of the support I had, the traditions I learned growing up, I was already very knowledgeable on birth and breastfeeding. These family stories and these traditions were important. I knew from the moment I saw that positive pregnancy test I would birth my child at home and breastfeed. I am pretty strong-willed and I didn’t care what anyone told me about it.

So finally after 40 long weeks of waiting I got to meet my sweet first boy. I birthed him on my mother’s living room floor in front of the TV (I wasn’t actually watching the tv) after only 3 hours of labour. I was so determined to have him at home that after my ultrasound, I got checked because I thought labour had already started — and it had! I was already 6-7 cm dilated. I was given the option to get a birth room or go home. Stay? Not for me, thanks. I decided to go home and only an hour and a half after getting home I had a beautiful baby screaming and pink on my chest.

Shortly after I got to the bed and attempted his first latch, I was determined and nervous! Even with a full tongue tie he had he latched like a Champ and gained very well! We did have some ups and downs too. Eventually his latch started to affect his feeding at around 7 months, it shallowed and that meant he wasn’t gaining as well as he should. So I made the choice to pump till he was about 14 months old where I got pregnant with my second.

Breastfeeding hasn’t been smooth as every baby I’ve have had has their own quirks. Seven of my eight children have had tongue ties, two of them were bad enough that I felt they needed it to be revised. Even with the tongue ties, all my kids nursed wonderfully and latched like pros!

I was lucky enough to give birth to my twins at home. I had to fight for my right as a mother to birth my babies the way I felt was safest. I was determined to birth them at home regardless of protocol and policies laid by hospitals and insurance companies! Unless it was medically necessary to go to a hospital I was staying home. I did a ton of research and knew the risks in twin pregnancies and births for the type of twins I was having. I searched long and hard for care providers who would support me. I had back up support in case my local midwife wasn’t able to pull a team together. It was only at the last minute, only about a week before I went into labour that I was told I’d have local support a team of at least four midwifes. Though seven midwives actually came to my home.

The twins were born at 37 weeks, after an amazing painless labour, I danced with my husband and and sang through the waves of contractions, and laboured by candle light with soft music playing same as I had birth with most of my little ones. My first water broke and I decided to wait a few more contractions before getting in the pool.  I got in and midwife came up check on me things were still so calm , three of the seven midwives were still out at lunch.  She went back down and I decided to check my self only seconds later. A strong intuition told me to check and sure enough baby A was right there head down no feeling of pressure or anything.  I call down for the midwife and I looked at my husband and told him he had four minutes to empty a bit of water and get in if he wanted to catch our first twin. I start to feel the wave and told him to get in and not even seconds later baby A shot right out with out any pushing into mine and my husband’s hands. We lifted him  up and snuggle him and showered him in love. I listened  for baby B and and felt his position and had midwife confirm. Soon decided it was time to birth Baby B I handed baby A off to daddy and started to get into position. When baby B’s water broke and almost immediately after he shot out across the pool bottom first. Midwife jumping in quickly to catch him only 19 minutes later. The three midwives who were out at lunch came in about then. I snuggled baby B and loved on him also before realizing I wanted to snuggle both of them on my chest. So I moved to the bed and they latched amazingly.

They gained weight rapidly. This, however was a new experience in itself! Nursing two tiny little babies juggling them seemed so intimidating at first despite having nursed five babies prior and tandem nursed many, having twins was different. However once they started nursing it was like we were in complete sync. I had an abundance of milk and nursed on demand. I’d tandem nurse them while I tandem wore them. It was the way we got through daily.

To me, breastfeeding isn’t a linear journey there are many different paths. It’s been an amazing journey to have been able to nurse all my babies! I nursed eight babies in 11 years, each weaning anywhere from 14 months to four and a half years. I also know how blessed I am to be able to tandem nurse toddlers and the unique blessing of nursing twins. I believe it created a bond and a closeness for all of my children and I and I wouldn’t change a thing. There is something very special about growing a baby withing your body that you created and feeding them with milk for the you’ve created. And to continue to help them grow with this milk. It’s so special.

 

All pictures supplied by Amy McNally and Blessed Touch Photography.

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Footnotes
Amy belongs to the Pic Mobert Band of the Ojibwe Nation. Visit the Pic Mobert website herehere.

To learn more about the Ojibwe First Nations, read this Wikipedia entry.

Healthy communities through weaving – Bebe Sachi

Bebe Sachi is unique in the babywearing world, it is a social enterprise.

What is a social enterprise? A social enterprise has at its heart the value of building community. Not by following fashion trends, not by chasing the latest concept, but by creating something strong and lasting. Bebe Sachi also places a great importance on respecting the values and traditions of the local people, and it does this by treating them as equal partners. Their goal is to preserve the tradition and skills of the artisans who use the Asian handloom. I’ve been to several of their presentations and in them, you will always here this:

“It is important to understand the glorious history of Bengal’s textile in order to appreciate the need for preserving the Asian handloom legacy.”

And that’s just it. It is a glorious history. To understand the importance of preserving this tradition, we must visit why the decline in the Bengal textile trade occurred. It happened in two waves.

“From the final decade of the eighteenth century cloth exports from South Asia had already begun to decline for a variety of reasons, including the monopsony that the English East India Company had built in Bengal and South India, which blocked manybuyers from obtaining cloth.”1

After the British take over of Bengal in 1757, they slowly squeezed out most of the foreign buyers of Bengal textiles from the region and significantly reduced Bengal’s trading links with the outside world. Divide and conquer was the goal of the British Empire. By the end of the 18th century, the British were exporting almost all of the textiles produced in the region through the East India Company and other British companies. There were few independent exporters left.

At first, when the British Empire expanded into South Asia, it provided real boost to the local handweaving industry. Many fine fabrics, including the best cottons in the world were woven here. But with the onset of the industrial revolution, it enabled the British to produce these fabrics more cheaply back home. Instead of exporting fabrics to Britain, The East India Company flooded the Bengal market with these cheaper machine made cotton goods from Britain. As the British had almost a full monopoly in the region, the impact was immediate. The Bengal textile industry declined rapidly and by around the 1850s it had almost disappeared.

From Bebe Sachi themselves: “There were hardly anything left of its past glory. These factors caused the once famous textiles industry of Bengal to demise, causing the death of the legendary fine muslin textiles. Muslin was Bengal’s finest heritage that made the region famous and attracted visitors and riches to its shores for millennia.”

The impact on South Asia was devastating.  All of a sudden, the work that was available disappeared and the impact on communities was horrible. Though brilliant for the British back home in Europe, what jobs had been created through heavy colonization was now destroyed. There was no thought to the people left behind.

The situation nowadays in countries like Bangladesh for those in the fabric and garment industry nowadays isn’t much better.

The Rana Plaza building where many of the clothes we use to dress out children collapsed April 2013 1,135 Bangladeshi garment workers and injuring 2,500 more.2 It was such a shock as Canadians to see brands like Joe Fresh in the rubble. We here in the West were, through our need for fast, cheap, affordable fashions, somewhat responsible for what happened. Not because that is what we ordered or required. But because in order to make clothes cheaply, factories act like prisons. Days are long. Bathroom breaks rare. And as we learned, workers are essentially locked into the building, with few ways to exit in case of emergency.3 This is no way to live. Our companies are still making clothes here. And conditions aren’t safe.4

Moreover, to work in these factories people must move to larger centres away from their families. It is quite common that a mom goes to work in one location, a dad goes to work in another, while their children live with family members elsewhere. In order to ensure the financial health of their family, parents no longer have the luxury of raising their own children and of creating a strong relationship with them. Can you imagine if you barely saw your parents except for briefly throughout the year? Though you may love your aunts, uncles, or grandparents, who did you want to be raised by as a child? Who do you want to raise your own children? Relatives?

Given the emphasis on attachment in babycarrying, where and how our carriers are produced should be important to us. Are we truly supporting attachment to family and to community if we do not consider how a carrier is created?

Because when a company like Bebe Sachi establishes itself in a country like Bangladesh, it creates community and encourages attachment. First, by preserving the traditions of the Asian handloom, they are valuing the work, skill and artisanry of the local people. When a weaving set up is built in a small community where people live, families can make a strong enough living, creating financial strength which enables families to stay together. Parents of the Bebe Sachi community get to be the parent. And they do what most parents do around the world, they raise their children, the take charge of their education and they raise them in the values that are important to them. As a result of the Bebe Sachi project, weaving set-ups were revived, and the looms are alive again. Their small set-up has become an exemplary model. It has created opportunities to do work such as yarn spinning, dyeing, warping, and so on. Weavers have a flexible working environment. They are able to weave and farm as needed. This means they can provide food for their families. Weavers remain with their families, they ensure that their children attend school, and the members are active in the local community.

Supporting a local enterprise is not just about buying a product, it’s about respecting the people who live abroad, creating community and supporting family cohesion. It is also about respecting the values of the people who live there. All woven items are designed and made by the local artisans and weavers. They are learning to experiment and learn how to create items that are popular and will have a lasting impact. Runs are short and there are no product lines to speak of. Each weave has its own purpose – items are woven for everything from shawls, place mats, handbags through to fabric suitable for carrying babies and much more. There is an inherent respect when you let people determine their own destinies. Moreover, Bangladesh is primarily a Muslim country. The Muslim religion does not allow images of animate beings, whether they are humans, animals or birds, and whether that is engraved, on paper or fabric. This means that every piece woven does not go against their own personal beliefs, as occurs in the larger industrial centres. Can you imagine if you were forced to make something offensive to you just because someone else will like it, or because it will sell? Bebe Sachi weavers do not have to.

Another thing is that a social enterprise can do is to respect the natural cycles. An example is based on weather. Here in Canada the one thing we can predict, is that winter will come and the snow will fly. It impacts every part of our life. In Bangladesh, the weather centres on monsoons and floods. When the rains come, they don’t just come for a day or two. They come for a whole season and flooding is quite common. A business that cannot support itself during these periods of mandatory stillness is devastating to the community. Bebe Sachi always has at its heart the goal to create strength to survive past these periods. This year has been particularly difficult in Bangladesh, the storms have been particularly hard and the flooding greater than usual. Over 1,200 people died in the region this year alone.5 When the floods come, the looms lie silent. There is no way to farm, to spin or to weave. As such, the continuous support from babywearing communities around the world plays a huge factor in ensuring their sustainability.

The long term goal of the Bebe Sachi team is to be able to expand their social enterprise to other South East Asian regions. Both women, Rita Rahayu and Azizah Attard are Malaysians and would like to be able to bring the strength they are working to build in Bangladesh to a greater number of people. Consider shopping with Bebe Sachi and help them build more communities worldwide. We are too accustomed in Canada to hearing the words “fair trade” and “social enterprise” and associating it with very high price tags that are truly far too expensive for most of us. Because there the weavers are selling directly to you, the prices of Bebe Sachi products are fairly reasonable and each run is quite unique. You can buy from them here , like them on facebook, or join their facebook community called Bebe Sachi Love to share your love of their products.

In celebration of a project like Bebe Sachi, Babywearing in Canada is sending their own Bebe Sachi wrap out travelling throughout Canada as part of International Babywearing Week.  Stay-tuned to our facebook page for more information!

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Footnotes
1. Cotton Textile Exports from the Indian Subcontinent, 1680-1780, Prasannan Parthasarathi
2. Article from CBC.ca titled Joe Fresh continuing garment business in Bangladesh in year after tragedy published April 10, 2014.
3. To learn more about the garment trade, watch this documentary by the Fifth Estate called Made in Bangladesh.
4. Article from the Globe and Mail, Four years after the crisis, are Bangladeshi workers any safer? published July 28, 2017
5. Article from the Guardian entitled South Asia floods kill 1,200 and shut 1.8 million children out of school published August 30, 2017.

LennyLamb – a story

I had the honour of touring the main location of LennyLamb in Poland a few weeks ago. I am not sure if you are aware, LennyLamb is one of the largest manufacturers of wraps, ring slings and structured carriers there. This company started off in Asia’s apartment June 2008, as soon as the idea was conceived it became a family business. Asia’s husband Michal, her sister, Kasia, and Kasia’s husband Piotr joined in to make LennyLamb the company it is today. They first started by outsourcing their weaving and sewing to various places locally. But as the business expanded, it didn’t make any sense to continue this way. Soon they decided to open their own facility by moving to a small converted farm building belonging to the family. Initially, the entire production was located in one building, where the shipping and coordinating was done in a small side room which now serves as their photography studio. The company has now expanded to several buildings. Though Lenny Lamb is larger, employing a good number of people in Poland, it still keeps its small family aesthetic. Each carrier is made to order, on time, just for you.

Touring the facilities was a blast. I am a very visual person and I couldn’t get over the feast offered throughout the factory. Spools of yarn, fabric scraps, colours everywhere.

 

I learned so much! It was absolutely fascinating. First we started in the building where the yarn is brought in, sorted, and wound on the warp beams. The amount of work needed to get a warp done is amazing. First, the spools of yarn are loaded on the rack, they are hand strung in a grouping of 500 threads, each done up with a neat little knot. Then the technicians then use the bars to keep the tension where it needs to be. Once the warp is wound and sorted out, it is then threaded onto the warp beams, the knots at the start of the warp are used to secure it into the beam and then a second knot at the end keeps the group of 500 threads separate. Ten of these sets of 500 threads are loaded onto the warp beam and it is a fairly intense process.

I found watching the workers incredibly hypnotic as they worked with such fine yarns that it looked like a spider web, or like gauze hangings from a movie scene.

From here we went to the BEST and most interesting part, where wraps are made. They had four jacquard looms in operation at the time I visited, and including one Dobby loom. Each loom had a different weave on the go. The first set was a cross weave, which you can see by looking at the crossing reeds, and each piece that is woven has two repeats on it.  It is much easier to keep some looms with it’s own weave style because it saves time, otherwise to change the configuration is quite time consuming. This is one of the reason there are so many!

    

Each spool has several runs of fabric on it, and is separated by a bit of plain weave, allowing for easier cutting and sorting later on.  There is a really neat bit of waste that is created in the weaving process, the ends almost look like feathers, like each run creates something that will reminds me of how this will fly to families all over the world. The remainder of the warp is then saved and reused whenever possible. The spools of completed fabric are stored throughout, and they are a feast for the eyes.

From there, the fabric either moves to the sewing room to be cut and trimmed to create wraps, or it heads to the cutting room to be treated and turned into your favourite structured carrier. Lenny Lamb makes a series of structured carriers, from a full buckle, onbuhimos and mei tais (meh dais). As previously mentioned, this is a family operation and runs are small. This allows Lenny Lamb to do one thing, make each carrier to order. Literally. When you press buy on their website, that fabric gets removed from the shelf and that carrier gets made just for you. When a store orders an amount puts in an order for their shop, that order is made specifically for them. It’s tailored to your needs, to your life, to your hometown.

 

The small, just in time nature of their business also allows Lenny Lamb to do many new innovative designs and colourways, keeping their product line fresh and new. When I arrived, they had just put out a new colour in their horse weave and the popularity of it meant the orders were being processed right before my eyes. It has just been released the day before.

As a knitter and a educator, I have a true love of fabric. The scraps everywhere were grabbing my attention left, right and centre. The useable scraps from the cutting room are then cut, sorted and trimmed to make up the bundles of scrap fabric that are also available for sale. Nothing is wasted, I even spotted a scrap that was being used to clean the machines. Waste not want not! (Look away if using wraps scraps for cleaning makes you cry…)

And that is one of the main benefits of having everything located nearby. The environmental footprint is much smaller than other operations. The yarn, the webbing and the buckles are the only things shipped in to make each carrier. The winding of the warp, the cutting, the weaving, and the sewing are all within walking distance of each other. For some companies that aren’t able to weave their own fabrics, due to smaller fabric runs or other factors, the fabrics are designed in house and woven offsite. These rolls then have to be shipped to various locations for find construction.

Another benefit of having a fully functional factory is the ability to test out different concepts before deciding if they should be integrated into their carriers or should just remain an experiment. They can test out the quality of the weave, the weight and the workability as a wrap without having to wait. Many companies have to send the design off to have a test piece woven elsewhere for them to evaluate. Not here! I was even lucky enough to see a really innovative experiment – I was shown a test project. It was a two sided fabric, where one side you see the boy looking out, the other side you can see the boy’s back and his shadow and from the rest of the figures too! Though far too thick for wrapping, who knows what might develop from here?

 

Once your order is prepared to your specifications, it moves to quality control, where it is checked prior to labelling and packing. Shipping and receiving is directly on the other side.

It goes from this family-run business right to your local shop or straight to your home.

Débora was invited to visit Lenny Lamb September. This article is as a result of her visit. Two live interviews were done by Lenny Lamb, one in Polish and the other in English. Pop in and take a listen! Débora would like to thank the Lenny Lamb team for making her visit memorable.

Link to the LennyLamb story: https://en.lennylamb.com/web_page/10735

Débora’s interview with LennyLamb Polska about carrying in Canada: https://www.facebook.com/147801012269544/videos/484787701904205/

Interview on LennyLamb to describe why I visited Poland: https://www.facebook.com/lennylamb/videos/10154725820902484/