Born to be Carried
Hello! I’m Olwen Rowe and I’m a certified babywearing consultant. I’ve been working with parents and caregivers since 2010.
I have three children, all of whom I have carried in arms and in various slings and carriers (some terrible, some brilliant).
I live with my family just outside Galway City. Apart from a year studying in Mexico, I’ve lived in Galway since 1999; and I still want to pinch myself on the days I can’t believe that we live somewhere so beautiful! I love living in the country side, from where I can dip into city-life (and the sea!). I’m passionate about supporting parents, caregivers and familes with babies and young children. And I’m also passionate about biodiversity and natural literacy.
My experiences as a daughter, sister, aunt, wife, friend, and mother, have brought it home to me that our sense of ourselves and our understanding of our place in the world have their very foundation in our earliest relationships.
I discovered the wonderful world of “physiological” babywearing (that is slings, carriers and techniques that support babies in a comfortable, safe and natural position) after a challenging journey to visit my husband’s family in the US. We were travelling with my then 4-month-old who would vomit on me and cry when I tried to put him in the slings we had then. When we arrived in the US, I was physically and emotionally exhausted from carrying him through transfers and on the flight as I just couldn’t get him comfortable in the sling we had; that evening we ‘fast-tracked’ a sling that was a then well-known brand of ergonomic soft-structured carrier. And it was nothing short of life-changing. He was comfortable and content in it; I felt liberated.
He loved being carried around having a good nosy or a nap, I was relieved to have my hands free, and my active 3 year old was delighted that I was able to go with him wherever our feet could take us. The amazing bonus of finding a sling that made day-to-day life much easier and much more enjoyable, was that I actually got to finish my studies within 5 months of getting the sling. If my baby fell asleep, I could keep him in the sling, happily snoozing against me while I read, researched, wrote, typed and edited. It was amazing! Gone were the days of trying to get him settled for a nap in the cot so I could work, those awful days where he reacted to the cot like it was a bed of hot coals. Another unexpected benefit was that if he was carried for some of the day in a sling, he settled much better at night because his tummy was much easier (and he did actually settle for some naps in the cot).
I was so relieved with the ease that babywearing brought–it truly was liberating in so many ways–that I co-founded a Babywearing Ireland sling meeting in Galway in 2010.
My two passions—teaching adults and babywearing—came together when I attended an inspiring Die Trageschule® consultancy course run by Olga Nguyen in Dublin. Following this, I set up Born to be Carried in Galway in 2011. Since then I’ve had another baby, attended many levels of training with Die Trageschule®, in Ireland, the UK and in Germany, trained as a postpartum doula and a Baby Bonding practitioner, I became a licenced Die Trageschule® babywearing consultant, an accredited breastfeeding counsellor, and a licenced Die Trageschule® trainer.
For me as an experienced babywearer who was already supporting parents and caregivers at local sling meetings, the Die Trageschule® teaching methods I learned in Dublin in 2011 were transformative. They are what I continue to use (keeping up-to-date with changes and improvements) for all my work with parents because the teaching methods are clear and confidence-building.
Die Trageschule®–which translates from German as “the carrying school”–was founded in Dresden in 1998 by Ulrike Höwer. With an international team of trainers and consultants, Höwer has been devising and adapting easy-to-learn steps for using particularly slings and carriers, based on years of medical research and guidance, paediatric physiotherapy, occuptional therapy and the evidence-based practice of working with many parents and caregivers in many circumstances.
For those of you who are curious about the studies I completed when my second baby was 9 months, it was a PhD in English (comparative literature). While this may seem to be to disconnected from my work as a babywearing consultant and trainer, it’s not at all. By the time I was began post-graduate research, my academic research interests primarily focused on identity and our sense of self. My training in literature, cultural studies, and language, gives me a unique interdisciplinary insight into the social, psychological and cultural aspects of babywearing. I’m also a complete science nerd, and I am fascinated by evolutionary anthropology and recent research into the neurobiology of babies and their caregivers.
I’m passionate about perinatal and infant mental health and I’ve been involved in professional groups and networks that seek to understand and support mothers and their babies during the postpartum period, and to in inform government policy.
In my time-off, some of my favourite things to do are taking dips in the sea with friends in Galway Bay, making bread, playing Catan with my kids, going for walks with my dog, and learning about wildflowers and mushrooms.