I carry and still take care of me
Is carrying only about the baby and transporting it in a baby sling or any other carrier system? Because after all, there is a person behind it carrying it– namely you. Women put themselves and their health last way too often. This is why this text, written by a fit mum and physical therapist in urogynecology, is about and for you - as a mum and as a woman.
Let us view carrying as something that involves both of you: the child and the mother.
The joy of carrying sets in when it is comfortable for both sides and feels safe and good.
Do you pay attention to your pelvic muscles and other deep-set muscles while carrying the baby?
Regeneration is a process. It takes the female body several months (some sources claim that it can even take up to a whole year) after giving birth to recover after birth and for the body to get back to its initial shape. After around six weeks, the uterus will have formed back – but that does not mean that the whole body is completely recovered by then. You will still feel the strain when, for example, lifting the child out of the baby sling or other carrier systems.
Physical discomfort many women experience after giving birth:
- Abdominal separation, which means the straight abdominal muscles are too far from each other
- Lowering of the pelvic floor
- Scars from episiotomy or caesarean section that need mobilisation
- Spine and pelvic floor pain resulting from wrong posture
All these difficulties can be solved by applying the right practices and physical activities to improve your wellbeing. Of course you can carry your child in a carrier system but don‘t forget to take care of yourself too. It is all about the position of your pelvic floor, deep belly breaths (abdominal breathing) and the activation of the deep muscles.
The adventure has begun! Your offspring sits in the baby sling and is excited about being so close to you and about the new perspective. What about you? How do you feel?
- Do you experience discomfort in the lower pelvic area?
- Are you feeling pressure on your belly?
- Or are you having back ache?
All these points indicate a weakened musculature and wrong posture which frequently happen after giving birth. You find yourself asking your friends for help, looking for professional advice or you’re already going to a physiotherapist? Very good!
What helps with carrying?
Let us look at the carrier system as if it was a heavy-duty backpack. The main parts consist of a wide, adjustable waist strap and wide shoulder straps. For the baby sling to be comfortable, you should attach the waist strap to your waist - not your stomach- as it would push on your organs and move them towards your pelvis. With the adjustable shoulder straps, you are able to position your baby on your back in a way that is comfortable for the baby and for you, making it easier to carry.
Bear in mind how long you carry. Carrying the baby for a long time is not good for a mother still recovering from birth. Don’t forget to take breaks from carrying and implement exercise which are good for you and your spine!
With the baby on your back, your daily life has no limits!
Paying attention to your pelvic floor muscles and spine, as well as a conscious posture and breathing are the foundation for having enough strength for any physical activities! You do not have to miss out on your hobbies, like hiking or traveling, instead you can just bring your child wherever you like. Enjoy carrying your baby in beautiful nature!
Without our carrier system I couldn't have gone to so many beautiful places with my daughter. Our Tula came with us to alpine peaks, to the polar circle and through the wild paths of the Beskids mountains. I am so grateful that my body can handle so much. Walks with my child on the back are a great training for that! I believe that I get my strength as a mother from carrying the child on my back. It is worth it to use a baby sling at first and then move on to a carrier system because you open a whole new world to the parent-child-relationship. On top of that, they are comfortable, light and teach you to feel your own body in a whole new way. It is worth it to be cautious with yourself –with the right support, you can actually enjoy carrying your child!
Dr.med. Małgorzata Jachacz-Łopata
Physiotherapist in urogynecology,
mother of two-and-a half-year-old Gai,
mountain- and nature-lover,
Author of the blog „Górska Mama” (En.: „Mountain Mom”)