Baby wearing: cautionary advice

40 weeks of pregnancy changes your body. Once that baby is out, you don’t automatically return to the way you were –  and I’m not talking about ‘baby weight’ (to be honest, that’s pretty low down my list of postnatal priorities).

Let’s start by thinking about how pregnancy changes your body:

* Bigger boobs = heavier at the front of your body = rounded shoulders, tight chest muscles
* Growing bump = heavier at the front of your body = tilted pelvis = backache = weakened butt muscles and hamstrings
* Increased weight in tummy = more pressure on pelvic floor = stretched and weakened pelvic floor muscles
* Big tummy = weakened, stretched tummy muscles and possibly diastasis recti, aka separated tummy muscles.

*Tissues – muscles, tendons, ligaments – take up to TWO YEARS years to heal. Yes, up to two years.

* Combine with the tiredness that comes with a baby, AND hormonal changes that go on as we recover AND are compounded by breastfeeding, AND possibly not great nutrition (because when life’s upside down it’s difficult to re*member to eat well).

It’s safe to say that as a new mum, you’re not a “regular” fitness class-goers. You’re special and you need specialist support and advice.

Postnatal bodies need to HEAL. That’s an exercise programme that for a while looks more like REHAB than BOOTCAMP.

I don’t offer to help you get bigger biceps. I don’t claim I can help you excel in your chosen sport. But I DO know the postnatal body.

So what about exercising with baby in a sling or a carrier? It can keep baby calm and happy, it may make you feel connected and bonded.

But loading your postnatal body – with all those weaknesses and tightness that have occurred in pregnancy and labour too – can further increase postural or alignment issues. Adding weight to your movements can put pressure on any Diastasis or a Pelvic Floor that’s not healed or fit to take pressure yet.

In that early ‘restorative’ post natal period, what a Mum’s body needs is
focus on mindful reconnection to and re-integration of her core
Lots of hydration
Really good nutrition to rebuild the cells and tissues
Rest and avoiding stress as much as possible.

Frequently our Fitness conversation is all about fat loss. I want that conversation to be about health, avoiding injury and illness. Injury to the pelvic floor and abdominal wall can lead to sneezy pees and at worst, pelvic organ prolapse. Around 50% of women experience these issues in their lifetime, which makes it an epidemic that makes women’s lives miserable.

To be clear – babywearing is brilliant in the right place at the right time. That is NOT when you’re exercising. Our postnatal bodies are in no state to be loaded with the weight of a baby and then challenged with movement.

You only have one Pelvic Floor and one Core System and that needs to last you for the rest of your life.

One comment

  1. Hi Elspeth,
    Thank you for this great article. I teach Postnatal Recovery in Somerset and advise all my mums to avoid exercise when wearing their babies. Babywearing IS exercise in my opinion. I hope that postnatal maternal health will be given the importance it deserves and there will be more information for expectant parents about postpartum recovery.
    Best wishes

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