It’s Black Babywearing Week UK and I met with the lovely Vanisha Virgo to find out why it’s particularly important this year and discovered an inspirational woman with a deep commitment to others. She immediately tells me that the birth world lacks representation and that “Babywearing is not a business, it is as old as time”. Vanisha believes strongly that carrying is just one aspect of being a parent and for black and brown parents it is part of their heritage. This celebratory week which runs from the 14th – 20th June seeks to connect parents and invites them to share their stories. Before we went on to talk about this in more depth I wanted to find out more about Vanisha and how she became an advocate for babywearing.
This big hearted Mum has over 25 years of experience working as a childcare practitioner, she is also a doula and a breastfeeding and babywearing peer supporter. It is lovely to hear that whilst homeschooling her son she finds time to nurture and support so many others on their journey to or through parenthood. Her passion for babywearing and it’s ability to enable parents is overwhelming, she tells me that it’s the most underrated tool of parenting and as BBWUK this year promotes, she is helping others to connect with this to help them as a parent or carer. Vanisha’s commitment to equity is clear in the workshops she runs and her advocacy work, which includes some thought provoking articles demonstrating how entrenched racism is in this field and its affect on both mother and baby at such a vulnerable time.
“It has been a hard year for black and brown people,” she tells me and sensitively points out that they do not need to be told ‘how to wear’ babies. Of course that doesn’t mean that they don’t need support in learning how how to use carriers but it’s really important to acknowledge that they have been using slings safely for centuries. ‘A sling is useful for everything’ she smiles ‘washing up, carrying the shopping, tidying the house. It’s the most natural way to parent’. There’s no arguing with that, it is an incredible tool for getting things done but also to connect with your child; helping to calm your baby, enjoy skin to skin and be close. Babywearing also enables parent and child to communicate at the same level – particularly important at the moment when babies have spent so much time away from others and it can feel overwhelming out in the world. Parents and carers can feel that their baby is more secure, facing in and close to them, tucked away from strangers and a closer contact they might not be ready for.
These are the simple things in life and of parenting, they come naturally to Vanisha who is just desperate to share the wonders of carrying, connecting and closeness. This is what Black Babywearing Week UK 2021 is all about, enabling black and brown parents to connect with one another, their children, their families and also their ancestry. Through the simple act of holding their child they are taking their place in the world as parents and carrying on a tradition whilst nurturing one another. It is not an ordinary year and this is all being done virtually, to connect with the Black Babywearing community use the hashtags: #Bbwwuk21, #Reconnecting, #reclaimingourheritage, #representationmatters, #blackbabywearing
Vanisha laughs and smiles throughout our conversation, her light touch with such an important and powerful topic demonstrates how accessible she makes this to everyone. When I point it out she laughs and tells me that she just goes with the flow. This is the perfect way to sum up a lady who as well as working hard to enable and empower parents and children loves to rollerskate and hot tub in her spare time – she is a rollerskating, babywearing advocate so stand up and listen to this force of nature.
Visit blackbabywearingweekuk on Instagram and Facebook to get involved.