Today we're highlighting Mia O'Malley (@miaomalley), founder of Plus Size Babywearing (@plussizebabywearing) and an advocate for plus size mamas!
As a Certified Babywearing Educator and plus size mom, Mia encourages and educates others on the benefits of babywearing and showing that any parent regardless of size can safely and comfortably enjoy babywearing. You can learn more about Mia at miaomalley.com or through her Instagram account @miaomalley. Be sure to give @plussizebabywearing a follow too!
Your personal account on Instagram serves as an incredible resource for plus size mothers. What motivated/inspired you to start advocating for plus size persons on Instagram?
I felt very invisible as a fat pregnant person. There was no representation of bodies or bumps that looked like mine in media, marketing or parenting environments. Although pregnancy was a wonderful experience for me in so many ways, this isolation was very real and I yearned to see bodies that looked like mine and connect with people who could relate to my unique experiences as a fat pregnant person. That’s when I began sharing my experience and it led me to connect with others who felt similarly. After I had my baby, that lack of representation persisted as a fat parent. Nursing my baby looked different and was logistically different and wearing my baby on my body looked different too. Fortunately, I had connected with other fat parents online who could help me and visually inspire me to continue trying different carriers.
Why did you start Plus Size Babywearing?
Once babywearing clicked for me, I knew that I needed to create something where other fat parents could see themselves, not only babywearing, but thriving and joyful in their parenting experience. That’s when I started the account @Plussizebabywearing on Instagram and dedicated my own account to talking about being a fat parent and creating and sharing resources that allow other fat people to feel seen and be comfortable!
How did you learn about babywearing?
I learned about babywearing (which feels so abstract before you are an actual a caregiver) through reading about the 4th trimester. I knew it was something that I wanted to do. I put a stretchy wrap on my registry because it was recommended but never thought about it again until I realized my baby really needed this and I needed this to get through our days which were basically cluster feeds after cluster feeds. I started to lean on it heavily when my baby would not tolerate being in a stroller for more than literally five minutes. I didn’t learn until years later that this was probably due to sensory issues. Living in a city, babywearing was my way of getting around. It was survival. It was grace. It was therapy.
I discovered ring slings when my son Ivan was around 4 months and stretchy wraps were not providing the support I needed to walk longer distances. Fortunately, I had another parent, whose body looked like mine, to help guide me in figuring out the sling. Watching tutorials with bodies that didn’t look like mine, made something that was already intimidating to me, even more so. Once I figured out how to wear comfortably in the sling my life became easier, and my confidence soared. I could walk for blocks, my baby was happy, I could nurse easily in public! It was everything. I knew at that point I had to make sure that everyone who wanted access to this tool could have it.
What have you learned from your experiences in running Plus Size Babywearing on Instagram? Is there anything you hope to see more of in the babywearing space?
The power of visual representation for larger bodies and diverse parenting. That, as a an account, you must always be intentional about inclusivity. It takes consistent and often imperfect effort. I’ve certainly made a lot of mistakes. I would like to see, from myself and my account included, more discussion of accessibility for people with mobility issues in the babywearing community.
What has been your greatest victory or achievement when it's come to educating others on babywearing?
Every parent I connect with that find the carrier they love, every parent that sends me a photo of them wearing proudly and connecting with their baby - these are all the greatest victories for me
What is a piece of advice you would share with someone looking to start their babywearing journey?
Everyone who knows how to babywear, struggled to figure it out! It’s a skill and skills require learning. Once you learn, then it becomes easy. It becomes second nature. But it is something that requires learning and the perception that it’s easy immediately is discouraging to so many. It’s so worth learning for both you and for baby.
Also that if babywearing is new to you, it’s also new to your baby. You both have to get used to it.
We have to ask...when is your favorite time to use ring slings?
In a bikini on a beach, but also every single time! I remember when I connected with Mallory and discovered beautiful hope&plum slings which were such a big part of my baby wearing journey including upgrading to a hope&plum double layer when my baby became a young toddler for more support! I always felt affirmed by hope&plum’s slings and their commitment to representing body diversity in babywearing!