Montevallo woman wins international babywearing award

A Montevallo woman recently earned an international award for sharing one of her passions with parents throughout the Birmingham area.

Mandy Welch, a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, Sept. 24 won the Outstanding Babywearing Advocate in the Healing Professions Award from the Babywearing International organization.

The award is given each year to a medical professional who works to teach parents the benefits of using hands-free carrying devices to transport their newborn children.

“It’s a huge honor. I was completely shocked,” Welch said. “I knew I had been nominated, but so had people from all over the world. I honestly didn’t think I had a chance to actually win it.”

Welch, a mother of five, said she has used babywearing devices to carry all of her children, and works every day to make area parents more aware of the practice’s benefits.

“I am a leader of the local chapter of Babywearing International, which is called the Magic City Slingers,” Welch said. “I have also been involved with several speaking engagements at the UAB intensive care nursery.

“I try to use my knowledge as a nurse to tell people about the benefits of babywearing,” she added. “At my job, I get a lot of opportunities to talk with new and expecting parents about it.”

Parents who use babywearing devices typically develop closer relationships with their children, Welch explained.

“Held babies cry less, so they use the energy they would use crying for growing,” Welch added. “It lowers the stress level for both moms and babies, and creates a deeper bond between the baby and the caregiver.

“If you’re nursing a baby, it can also promote a stronger nursing relationship,” Welch added. “It keeps the baby content, and it saves your arms, for sure.”