Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wear Your Baby! Campaign Update

The “Wear Your Baby!” story has gotten more ‘hits’ at this blog than any other story so far. “Primitive Bonding” and “The Ultimate Bonding Model” are close behind as far as ‘reads’ from my over 3,800 followers. Scroll back to see the first "Wear Your Baby!" story on the toolbar at the right.

Since writing “Wear Your Baby!” three weeks ago I received a grant from the Minneapolis-based MicroGrants program and African Development Center in Minneapolis to make dozens of baby carriers to give away to low income moms. In the past 9 years I have seen only 1 Somali baby tied on to his mama, and only a handful of other African babies being worn. There are over 70,000 African immigrants in Minnesota today. At the same time, the research I had started in 2010 on bonding and maternal-infant attachment has clearly indicated that the biggest disparity among various immigrant and refugee populations is in bonding, my dear Somali friends testing out at the lowest possible scores on all levels of all the factors of bonding; the Hmong tested the highest, even higher than their American counterparts. See the stories at this blog: under April listings on the side bar, “Welcome to the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Mogadishu!” under June listings, “Primitive Bonding,” under July stories, “The Ultimate Bonding Model,” and under June also, “Goat Soup and Bonding,” all at callthedoula.blogspot.com

After researching all of the different baby carriers on the market and surveying mothers at Everyday Miracles where I work, (http://www.everyday-miracles.org/) I decided to make both the Moby-style wrap (above) and the two-ring sling style (left.) The next challenge was to buy an overlock or serger machine to finish the raw edges of the cloth, 6 whole yards each, or 18 feet for a wrap-style carrier. The sergers posted on various sites online were already gone by the time I emailed the links. 

So I tried several Joann Fabric outlets who advertise sergers on line but didn’t have any of the heavier ones I was after in stock. 
More calls and finally I found a Viking store that not only carried sergers but services them, has a free class on how to use them and stocks parts, too. And the best part is that they had one that had been recently returned unused that I could have at a discount! So I bought it and immediately enthroned my purchase on the altar of my dining room table. Sorry, family, no meals until this project is finished!
Next I called lists of fabric outlets describing the project and begging for hefty discounts. A couple of places did bite and I found a friend with a minivan willing to shop with me. S.R. Harris in  Brooklyn Park gave us a great discount off of the listed prices for the hundreds of yards of fabric we picked out. (http://www.srharrisfabric.com/
Thank you Dmitri and Syd!

So, after cutting out my first run of carriers it was time to sew! And the fabric was bunching up. I was trying to edge a single layer of material so I knew this had to do with the tension. I called the Viking store and the woman there stayed on the phone forever with me, patiently talking me through the whole process of checking all 7 adjustments above and below the multiple needles. Voila!

And the first one comes off the assembly line and it is perfect! I send out a group email congratulating myself! Next I visit my Somali graphic designer and have him make buttons to pin on each wrap or sling we give away. The button says, "Wear Your Baby!" in four languages: Amharic (Ethiopian), Somali, Spanish and English. My wish is to start a fad here in Minneapolis and get hundreds of mothers to throw away their strollers and wear their babies.

Day 3
I’ve sewn 15 wrap-style carriers so far. The machine is perfect. I’ve threaded it with pink and white cones, so I am sewing all of the pink, red, plum and burgundy colored wraps first. I will switch to blue thread soon. I have to check on the button people today. When I called yesterday they were still trying to find an Amharic script font online that they could import and type with.

Day 4
The first 15 wraps are delivered to my very excited supervisors at Everyday Miracles! They are busy printing a little how-to-wear-your-wrap-carrier guide. We will be giving them out at no cost at our childbirth education classes which we hold 3 days a week in Spanish, Somali, Hmong and English. We serve the entire Twin Cities Metro area and see women from Southeast Asia, Africa, South America, Russia and other countries. We have single moms, mothers-to-be from a local methadone program, women from homeless shelters and teenage moms. We have already made news here in Minneapolis with our group’s low C-section rates: 17% compared to the rest of the city which is at 40% just now. We also have a 98% breastfeeding rate, so ‘our babies’ are well on the way to a very healthy start.
Stay tuned for more news!

Day 5
I will post this today. Now I have to get back to sewing! 

More stories to come....


STAY TUNED... This and other stories will be appearing the book, Stone Age Babies in a Space Age World:§ Babies and Bonding in the 21st Century© or Call the Doula! a diary© both pending by Stephanie Sorensen

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