Birmingham NICU Nurse Wins Award for Babywearing Advocacy
Mandy Welch of Montevallo, Alabama, a nurse in the St. Vincent's Hospital neonatal intensive care unit in Birmingham, Alabama, wins the award for Outstanding Babywearing Advocate in the Healing Professions, in connection with International Babywearing Week.
The term “babywearing” means carrying a baby or young child using a cloth baby carrier. Babywearing allows parents to have both hands free while carrying their children, and research indicates that this practice has numerous benefits for children.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 1986 found that 6-week-old babies carried at least three hours a day in a soft carrier cried and fussed 43 percent less than others overall, and 51 percent less in the evening hours. Another study, published in the journal Child Development in 1990, found that mothers who were given cloth carriers at birth were more responsive to their babies and had babies who were more securely attached than mothers who received plastic infant seats.
“International Babywearing Week is a wonderful time to recognize the advocates who are helping parents learn about and become successful at babywearing,” explained Susie Spence, president of Babywearing International, Inc., the nonprofit organization that coordinates the event.
Mrs. Welch is a registered nurse and is employed in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Vincent’s hospital in Birmingham. She is also a volunteer babywearing educator with Babywearing International of Birmingham, a nonprofit group formed in 2006 with the name Magic City Slingers.
“Mandy is a NICU nurse with a true heart for babywearing,” said her friend Brandy Dahlen in nominating her for the award. “She is continuously demonstrating to the world the benefits of babywearing through her dedication to wearing her own babies.”
Mrs. Welch is the mother of five children, the youngest of whom was born in July. She has used baby carriers to help her care for all of her children.
"Babywearing has saved my arms and my sanity on too many occasions to count,” Mrs. Welch said. “I am excited to be able to share my knowledge and passion about babywearing with patient families and other parents."
“Mandy is a true asset to our community,” said Spence, who is also one of Mrs. Welch’s co-leaders in Babywearing International of Birmingham. “Not only does she teach babywearing skills at our BWI chapter meetings, but she also has spoken about and demonstrated kangaroo care, which is a special form of skin-to-skin babywearing, to parents with children in the UAB Hosptial NICU, and she frequently gives one-on-one babywearing help to patients as well as friends.”
International Babywearing Week 2009 is being celebrated by nonprofit groups around the world. “We have Official Celebrating Organizations in fifteen countries around the world,” Spence said. The groups are hosting babywearing workshops, photography exhibits, walks, picnics, and other events to raise awareness about babywearing and help parents and caregivers learn babywearing as a skill.
International Babywearing Week is supported by funding from presenting sponsor ERGObaby Inc., and general sponsors Moby Wrap, Inc., and DIDYMOS Erika Hoffmann GmbH.
For additional information about International Babywearing Week, contact Susie Spence or visit www.babywearingweek.org.
About Babywearing International, Inc.
Babywearing International is a nonprofit organization founded in 2007 to promote babywearing and support volunteer-run nonprofit babywearing groups. For more information about Babywearing International, visit www.babywearinginternational.org.