It’s no secret that having a baby will change your relationship with your husband, wife, or romantic partner. Some of the changes will feel positive, but many couples report feeling a real strain on the relationship, especially in the early months of their babies’ lives. If you are a babywearer or babywearing educator, you’ve probably spent a great deal of time thinking about how the practice can benefit babies, mothers, and maybe fathers, but have you considered the ways in which babywearing can improve your marriage?
(Although a great deal of the commentary in this article refers to “mothers” or “fathers,” to breastfeeding parents, or to “husbands” or “wives,” we want to acknowledge that not all parents will fall neatly into these categories. If you are a nonbinary parent, a parent who has come to parenting through foster care or adoption or marriage, a parent who has given birth but never breastfed, a family that falls outside the paradigm of cisgender heterosexual parents who become parents in a straightforward biological ways, I hope you will still find a great deal in this article that applies to the babywearing partner(s) in your life.)
8 Ways Babywearing Can Improve Your Marriage
Words of wisdom from Wrapsody’s staff and Brand Ambassadors and their families
1. You feel more like “partners” rather than “primary caregiver” and “secondary caregiver”
The importance of this cannot be overstated. When a mother gives birth, she holds center stage — which is necessary and reasonable. Especially after a vaginal birth, the baby is placed immediately skin-to-skin, where it expects to be. Eyes are on mom as she learns to nurse and gets to know her baby. In a hospital setting, this often means that her partner is hovering over a bed rail in their first contact with baby.
Even in a homebirth setting, partners can feel apart after a birth. Biologically speaking, it is essential for the baby to make first contact with the mother after a birth. We learn more all the time about babies’ microbiomes and the ways in which mothers’ bodies change immediately following birth to provide an optimal place for baby to land. However, it can set the groundwork where mom is assumed to be the parent baby needs, and that the partner is there primarily to support their wife. However, when both partners wear their baby to provide comfort, soothing, warmth, and movement, it really creates a sense of connected partnership and equality between parents.
“When all my kids were infants, my husband felt a little left out since they were exclusively breastfed. I always waited at least a month or so to introduce a bottle and Andy felt like he couldn’t do enough to take pressure off of me. Wrapping, especially with my younger two, turned out to be an amazing way for him to bond with the kids and give me the support I needed and he needed to give me,” says Myste.
Sara said, “When you have a newborn who wants to nurse constantly, it’s awesome to be able to wrap the baby on daddy and let him bond and snuggle with our kiddo.”
“My husband was petrified that he’d break our baby,” Kristi adds. “But when he wrapped her, he felt confident. Often, wrapping would also help soothe her when she was fussy — he felt that it could be as effective as comfort nursing. He would say to friends with great pride, ‘She [meaning me, the mother] may be able to nurse, but this is what I’ve got. It’s almost as good as breastmilk.’ The more information I shared with him about how good it was for our baby, the more joy and pride he felt knowing he was providing something essential.”
Brianne feels the same way. “Babywearing empowered my husband and gave him a tool to bond and soothe our children. When he felt beyond hopeless, he at least had that, his one trick, to rely on.”
There is also a strange taboo for many new mothers about asking for help. There’s a sense that mom should sit back and wait for someone to offer — and that her partner should work hard to guess what she needs most. However, “My husband appreciates when I look at him and ask him for help,” says Nicole. It’s important to remember that both parents are undergoing a huge shift in their lives, not just the mother. When your partner babywears, you can say, “The wrap is on the couch. Is there any chance you can put away the dishes while I’m in the shower?” Which leads us to number two.
2. When both partners babywear, it is easier to feel like a team
“Something simple like doing the dishes can just be done. Not, ‘Oh — you do this while I hold the baby.’ but instead, ‘why don’t we get the dishes done?’ It becomes even more of a partnership because tasks can be done together, as a family, says Stephanie.
Bee, a mother of twin girls and their younger brother, sums it up beautifully with this story. “When the girls were born, I tried to get a Snap’n’Go on a bus then on the subway and I ended up crying the whole entire time. This in turn, led to me never taking the bus and subway again with a stroller — and to babywearing.
“Babywearing for us has always been 2 babies need to be carried. Still, to this day. So it was just known we both would. I don’t recall pushing my partner [to babywear]. He wanted to. Babywearing was just a natural necessity for us.
“I know if need be, we both can and will wear no questions asked! That’s really made our relationship better, because I know we’re a team. I don’t find my partner hotter if he is wearing, I don’t find him helping more if he is wearing. I really just find it a part of our parenting style, something that needs to be done, something we both enjoy doing! With all that, what babywearing has allowed us to do is see things, adventure, shop, walk, soothe sick, crying, tired, needy, teething babies! I have and LOVE a triple stroller, but the best thing we could have done was ditch that Snap’n’Go! Life became a lot less emotional for us (ok me on the subway as a postpartum mom) when we started babywearing.”
3. Leaving the house together becomes much easier
Bee made a great point about adventuring together. For most babies, a baby carrier provides them a “home away from home” where they will feel calm, comfortable sleeping, and can easily be kept safe even if the environment you are in is not child friendly.
“My fiancé and I continue to do a lot of things we did before our son was born because I can wear him and not have to worry about him getting into things or getting hurt or driving our friends nuts from him running wild. He’s always perfectly content to be wrapped,” says Anna.
Kristi Martel adds, “We can focus on social interactions, shopping – whatever thing – because the baby or toddler is contained and content being worn, and we don’t have to chase her around and make sure she is safe every second. So it frees us up to focus on other things sometimes. We do our famers’ market with our girl in a carrier. We have been house hunting with her in a carrier. I helped my mom go through my grandparents’ house after my grandfather’s death, with my girl on my back in a carrier. I would not have been able to do it without baby wearing!”
4. It can reduce the day-to-day stress that a new baby can bring to your family
“I didn’t wear my first son until he was around 6 weeks old,” says Nicolette. Those newborn days put a lot of strain on my marriage. We weren’t getting enough sleep, and the crying was really getting to is psychologically. The contrast between that and my second experience with a new born is huge. I started wearing him day one and daddy did, too. He was soothed and we were much less stressed out which meant a lot less fighting!”
Myste found a similar effect in her home. “My husband is an easily stressed, high-strung kind of guy (I love him as he is, so this is not a complaint, just fact). Wearing the kids just plain makes things, life, easier. When we’re less stressed, we communicate better, bicker less, and have more opportunities to love on each other.”
“It just simplifies life!!” Stephanie add. “The baby is calm and happy. So the anxiety is down.”
5. It allows for self-care, reducing the sense of “depletion” or being “touched out” that new parenthood can bring
Like Bee, Katrina is a mother of twins. “Babywearing makes me feel like I can accomplish the day-to-day aspects of my life (ie cleaning, taking care of pets, keeping children alive), which means most of the time my husband doesn’t come home to a defeated parnter in a bad mood. Even on days that are unredeemingly bad, babywearing allows me to take a step back and slow down and sniff little heads.
“So many aspects of motherhood affect one’s self-esteem, and babywearing gives me that extra boost every day–just enough to feel like I have, if nothing else, accomplished the requisite loving-on of my babies. That self-confidence allows me to take steps in improving my relationship with my husband and building relationships with people outside my marriage, which is so important. By wearing my babies I’m able to leave the house, talk to other adults, commune with other loving moms, and when I come home I am refreshed and happy–and my husband is happy, too, because he doesn’t have to worry about doing anything extra to make sure I’m okay.”
Kiera agrees with the above! “I’m a total type A control freak. I can admit it, and I own it! So for us, at this stage with a 13-month-old who’s trying to get molars and wants mama all the time … wearing allows me to hold him and give him love and attention even when I’m busy, which makes him happy, which makes me happy, which makes me a better wife and partner.”
There is also a lot of evidence that the incidence of postpartum depression may be much higher if the new baby is especially fussy, if the mother doesn’t have social support, if the mother loses the ability to do basic self-care or to get out of the house. Babywearing naturally helps with all of these things — so, while it is neither a surefire prevention or cure for PPD, it can certainly help ease the transition in ways that leave both parents with a few more “spoons” at the end of the day.
“My husband pretty much saved my life early on after first baby,” says Eleanor. “She was a non-sleeping, constant feeding type of baby, and I was suffering with PND as a result of lack of sleep and a traumatic fast delivery. My wonderful husband would pop her in the carrier, and take her off for long walks so I could sleep. Upright and held close to daddy she would be as happy as she could be anywhere other than the breast, so I could relax for a while and get much needed rest. Going through such a difficult time and having him help me (and our daughter) in such an amazing way definitely brought us closer as a couple.”
6. And not just self care — babywearing makes family care easier.
“At home it allows us to eat together and generally maintain family time,” explains Cory. “I typically wear her at dinner time if she’s not in a playful mood. And since I’ve gotten better at nursing in the RS sometimes we really do all have dinner together. Meal time is an important part of our day where we slow down and connect around the table.”
Katrina agrees with this 100%, especially as a mother of twins: “Wrapsody in particular has made my marriage better–those early days with twins were a total blur, but I remember sitting down, after all our help had left, with the twins wrapped up in Chronos while I ate a hot meal with my husband and toddler. My husband looked at me and said, ‘I am so glad you have that thing [meaning the wrap] because I wasn’t sure how we’d be able to handle this by ourselves.'”
7. It’s a healthy way to acknowledge the different ways you approach parenting
Colleen pointed out that for many couples, their choice of carriers will be different. Even if one parent is the driving “babywearing” force in the house, taking a step back to listen to your partner about works for them helps you really validate one another’s perspectives and let go of your sense of control (if you have one). “Accepting and understanding and appreciating and respecting the fact that your husband likes a different kind of carrier and has a different kind of carrier builds a foundation that you will approach things differently, and that’s ok. There is more than one means to an end and all is ok.”
“Before Emmeline was born,” Cory told us,” my husband asked if he could learn the ring sling because he liked how he got better snuggles in a hip carry rather than just tossing Taylor on his back in the Tula. I was like, ‘YES!’ (p.s. He likes the new Wrapsody Jennifer ring sling better than my Maya because it’s thinner and fits in his dad bag better).”
Sara Kift and her husband both wrap, but they have different preferences. “Because I’m a short wrap person (gasp) my Wrapsodies were the only wraps in our house long enough for my husband, and he loves to wear Ronan in them, even if I still have to do the actual wrapping part.”
“For my husband,” Kristi says, “it was funny because when he realized he preferred a mei tai to a wrap for back carries, he almost felt a little like he was being unfaithful — because of course, as the owner of Wrapsody, I make wraps. But when he realized that I supported him wearing our daughter in whatever was comfortable for him, it sent us on a really fun adventure of finding the carrier he liked best, which turned out to be a Kozy.”
8. A babywearing lifestyle can make room for more intimacy in your marriage
“In general, worn babies sleep better,” says Colleen, a mother of five, “allowing for more private time at night.”
Not only that, but a lot of moms find that babywearing allows them to have a little more control over their days and leads back to self-care, number five in this list. “On my end, it makes everything about my life simpler, to wear at least one kid on outings or around the house. And a happier wife makes for a happier life. At the end of the day I’m much more likely to have some energy left for Mike (nudge nudge) if the kids have been gentle on me. Babywearing just works for us. It allows us to live our life, more or less on our terms,” says Brianne.
Katrina adds, “Oh my gosh — I didn’t even think about it but totally yes. The LAST thing I want to do after having fussy babies all day is do anything in the bedroom with DH, so babywearing has positive impacts in that regard.”
A lot of people find it particularly attractive when their partner wears their baby — not because they are sexualizing the act of babywearing, but because, as Myste says, “Seeing my husband bond with my kids through wearing them makes me straight up swooon.” There is something powerful about knowing your partner is carrying an equal load — both literally and figuratively. And of course, watching someone being nurturing and loving to your child can only increase your feelings of connectedness and love to them.
Cory agrees. “I think it’s hot when Dean wears our children. Something about seeing him care for our children in that way just makes me fall a little bit more in love with him each time. Now, I will be doing something and turn around to see him wearing one of our kids in the RS and it makes my heart flutter.”
She adds, “Basically, babywearing reduces stress for us. We know we can get things like chores and outings done. It helps to soothe our children. It allows us to get snuggle time in during busy days. We get to be good parents while freeing up our hands to hold eachother. Reducing the stresses of parenting through babywearing, to me, is such a beautiful and peaceful way to maintain a healthy friendship and marriage.”
How about you? Do you agree that babywearing can improve your marriage? Have we missed anything in this list? Tell us in the comments! We love to hear from you! And please don’t forget to share this article with parents you care about so they, too, can reap the joys of the impact babywearing can have not only on their relationship with their children, but on their romantic relationships, as well!
For more reading:
- The Effect of the Transition to Parenthood on Relationship Quality: An Eight-Year Prospective Study
- The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino
- Romance after children: How babywearing keeps you connected
A huge thank-you to our Brand Ambassadors and staff who contributed to this blog post!
- Leila McRae, Wrapsody Director of Community
- Colleen Rivera, Wrapsody Director of Connections
- Nicole Maurice, Wrapsody shipping assistant
- Kristi Hayes-Devlin, Wrapsody CEM
- Myste Lundgren, blogger at Little Lundgrens
- Sara Kift, occupational therapist
- Brianne Ward, graphic designer
- Stephanie Smith, early childhood educator
- Bee Blake, Owner of Wild Bees and Certified Babywearing Educator
- Anna Schottenhaml, photographer at Anna Jane Photography
- Kristi Martel, musician and yoga instructor
- Nicolette Jenkins, Jamberry Consultant
- Katrina Horan, blogger at Joy and Diapers
- Kiera Joujoute, social media manager
- Eleanor Leadbetter, singer, artist, Ambassador
- Cory Janiak, photographer at Ebb&Flow Photography