Nihil de Nobis, Sine Nobis and Babywearing Research

“Nihil de nobis, sine nobis” translates from Latin to English is “Nothing about us without us!” Historically meant to communicate political policy, and later disability activism, the slogan now encompasses a call to respectful interaction with all members of marginalized populations.

This slogan is a tenet of qualitative nursing research. Qualitative research originated in the discipline of psychology (DNB, 2018). It seeks to understand human elements as opposed to numerical data and is conducted by interviewing groups of people. In phenomenological research, the researcher sifts through interviews looking for significant quotes or statements and combines them into themes in order to convey an essential experience, through the eyes of the experiencer. This is an important characteristic for nursing research. Qualitative research strives to understand, not to control. Nurses do not seek knowledge to control the nursed, or the nurse will “relate to the other as dominator rather than caring nurse” (Boykin & Schoenhofer, 2001, pg. 52).

Dr. H. Als’, a neonatal researcher, highlights a problem in neonatal care, and that is the disrespect for the neonate as a neurologically complex and vulnerable being, (Als & McNulty, 2011). Traditional hospital practices can be dismissive and disrespectful to the neonate, and cause harm to their caregivers, as evidenced by the high rate of caregiver PTSD following NICU admissions (Kim, et al., 2015).

A qualitative research design was used in this study to help understand the experience of babywearing a child after a NICU hospitalization. Very little scholarly research is available regarding the practice of babywearing and there is no published research on babywearing premature children. Study participants and not the researchers will verbalize what were the most important themes within their own experiences of babywearing. Qualitative research has a lower potential of introducing bias than a quantitative study. Once themes are identified, focused qualitative and quantitative research can bring more understanding about what babywearing can accomplish for families caring for premature children.

Babywearing is the practice of using a soft baby carrier to hold a baby to a caregiver’s chest. We wanted to know “Can babywearing be an extension of kangaroo care after a family is discharged home from the NICU”?

Study participants wore their babies for at least three hours a day for about sixty days and then were interviewed to see if we heard similar themes as kangaroo care research. Four similar themes were found. Participants verbalized lower stress and anxiety, increased calmness and sleep for the infant, promotion of bonding, and empowerment in caregiver roles. Other themes unique to this study included ease of the work of parenting, and promotion of self-care. Participants said things like,

“It makes me feel like a good mom.”

“I can feed myself!”

“My baby doesn’t cry.”

“Holding her like this is such a feeling of love.”

“It feels like your baby and you are hugging.”

“He goes straight to sleep!”

Now that we have research, we need more research. If babywearing yields similar results as kangaroo care, it has the potential to decrease death in children born prematurely, narrow inequities of health for people of color, promote breastfeeding, decrease crime during youth, and provide protection from bullying for elementary children.

Qualitative research doesn’t eliminate the problem that all research has, that we can apply  findings to populations of people but not to individuals. The human experience is never textbook. But using evidence to guide our practices when interacting with vulnerable children and their caregivers is essential in our advocacy role.



Boykin, A., & Schoenhofer, S. O. (2001). Nursing as caring: A model for transforming practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

DNB. (2018). Katalog der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek. Retrieved May 28, 2018, from

Kim, W. J., Lee, E., Kim, K. R., Namkoong, K., Park, E. S., & Rha, D. (2015). Progress of PTSD symptoms following birth: A prospective study in mothers of high-risk infants. Journal of Perinatology, 35(8), 575-579. doi:10.1038/jp.2015.9

Nightingale, F. (2014). Florence Nightingale: Notes on Nursing. New York City, NY: Fall River Press.

Werner, D. (1998). Nothing about us without us: Developing innovative technologies for, by, and with disabled persons. Palo Alto, CA: Healthwrights.

Full text of the thesis can be obtained through ProQuest at


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