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Kay Atwal, Chief Reporter
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Like many expectant mothers Shabnam Kwofie bought baby clothes, got the cot ready and assumed she would have a natural birth. She also thought she would breastfeed.
Life for the first time mum, like the birth in January 2012, was anything but. For one thing she ended up having an emergency caesarian and had her breastfeeding journey cut short. Inevitably the depression set in as she found herself not bonding with her new-born daughter. To top it all, just as she was trying to get out and about, she found herself struggling to get her baby, with buggy, and assorted bags down the stairs in her Stratford apartment block.
It was then that the penny dropped. Shabnam, known as Shabs, 34, said: “My family were born in Africa and it was common for them to pop their newborns into slings and crack on with the tasks at hand.”
She had also seen someone else carrying a baby in the same manner so she went to Queens Market in Green Street and bought some fabric and experimented with it, turning it into a baby sling in which she carried baby Anara, now aged two, tied close to her chest when she was out and about. There were other than the obvious practical benefits too.
Shabs, from Maitland Road, Stratford, said: “What I didn’t expect is how it changed my life. All the time when she had been in the pram she could have been snuggled against my chest. It finally allowed me to feel a bond that I didn’t even realise had been lacking due to the trauma of the first few weeks. Up until then I had simply been trying to survive as any human being with twenty five stitches going from hip to hip would about. But now – for the first time I felt complete as a mother.
“I had no idea about the benefits of skin-to-skin contact, all I knew was this: when you look down and see that your baby has fallen asleep on your chest, you feel the most amazing sense of peace.
“At that point I started experimenting with different fabrics and styles. Comparing other wraps on the market, and sourcing in my own fabrics. I had my own groups of local mums who loved the idea of slings and started buying from me.
“The news of my sling company and ability to help other mamas in their babywearing journey grew, and eventually I was in a wonderful position to be able to have my own fabric created just for AmaWrap. That and having my slings manufactured within the UK meant that I was able to achieve exactly the type of wrap that I felt best supported a baby – exactly the right fabric, with the right amount of stretch, both vertically and horizontally.”
Most of her business is run online although she does provide slings for to hospitals, including Newham General, as she believes it is important for mothers to begin carrying their babies as soon as possible.