Babywearing while Working
by Rebekka Garcia
Babywearing while working was once the norm. From the Amauti used above the Arctic Circle, to the simple pieces of cloth used in Ecuador, women have always worn their babies so that they could continue working. I carry a Sacagawea dollar with me to show a historical example. She managed to guide Lewis and Clark with Jean Baptiste tied on her back. In the modern era, it is accepted that mothers make a choice; you work OR you stay with baby. I do both. I work with my baby carried in a babywrap. If you are considering babywearing at work, I hope my experiences can help.
My story starts with a small private school and a job offer. I had just accepted a job as a science teacher at a new school. The opportunity to design a school's curricula from the ground up was pretty exciting. And then the stick turned blue and I figured that was the end of that job. When I called to share my news, the president of the board surprised me by offering, "bring your baby to work." I couldn't resist. For our family, continuing to teach was the right choice. The benefits are twofold: being in the classroom keeps my mind agile, and these young people get to see that family is important and can be incorporated into all facets of life.
I recently asked tbw forum members to share their experiences with babywearing while working. I heard from moms who taught, painted, worked in offices, or as sales clerks, or in the medical field, coffee shop owners, pottery shop owners, and students. The only trend I saw is that most of these jobs involved standing. As a teacher, I am almost always on my feet and the motion keeps my daughter interested. At nap time it helps her sleep.
If your employer agrees to let you bring baby to work, they have placed a great deal of trust in you. It is important to keep that in mind and return that trust and respect. You are acting as an advocate for all working moms. Your professionalism will forge the way for other moms to have the same opportunity. Being able to work outside the home and be a full-time mother can be the best of both worlds, if you follow a few guidelines.Make it a point to arrive early. Inevitably, baby will need a diaper change, a feed or just a cuddle. Give yourself time to meet baby's needs on your time so you are prepared to work on your employer's time.Bring a variety of carriers. My daughter always wanted to be in a Front Cross Carry during class. Then one day, she became fussy. Her fidgeting didn't stop until I put her in a rucksack on my back. She fell immediately asleep. Now I bring a long and a short wrap with me so we are prepared for all carries.Have confidence in tying or adjusting carries in public. At work is not the time to be trying out a new carry. That said, my class enjoyed learning new carries and the names. Which brings me to my next point.Be prepared to answer questions in the workplace with a smile on your face. People will be curious and this is not the time to feel shy or be rude. When you wear your baby out shopping or at church, you can handle questions and strangers any way you wish.Know your child's capacity for being worn and plan around it. Arrange for breaks around baby's schedule. My daughter is happy for two hour stretches on my back before she needs to be changed and fed. That works perfectly for my schedule.Keep baby occupied. A young infant may sleep most of the time. My daughter loves to observe what is going on and listen to class, but as she gets older, she likes to have something to play with. I wear a clunky nursing necklace turned to the back or attach a toy with plastic links to my rails.Be open to the possibility that this arrangement may not always work. Baby's needs, your needs or your employer's needs may change. Enjoy the time you have working with your child. Many mothers would love to have the opportunity. By setting a good example, you are making it possible for more to do so in the future.Wearing your baby while at work allows for extended bonding with your child. Your baby will benefit from being with you and the new places and things to which they are exposed. Who knows what your child will learn? I like to say that my daughter will be the only child on the playground discussing Newton's Laws. And if you are a parent who needs and/or wants to work, you can maintain your job without sacrificing time with your child.