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Abdominal separation and baby carriers: how baby carriers can interfere with healing

Do you use a baby carrier? Make sure you’re carrying your baby correctly. A carrier can be an indispensable piece of equipment sent from heaven for a child who wants to be close to you all the time, wants to be carried by you, or for times where you need your hands free. They are popular and come in a range of models, but some mums use them incorrectly.

Let’s back up a bit!
Take a look at the picture above – do you recognise the posture? How does your body feel after childbirth? Does it feel strong, stable and like you have reconnected with your core? Probably not. Add a lot of carrying or exercise on top! (Incidentally, I always get a little nervous when I see mothers exercising with their baby in a carrier or using the baby as a weight in their workout.)

After giving birth, you need to focus in particular on improving your core and pelvic floor function – but putting too much emphasis on this can mean more risk than reward. If you’re a brand new mum, standing, walking and carrying your newborn will present enough of a challenge. If you have prolapse, a carrier can make the situation worse by adding extra weight to your body. Doing exercises like squats or lunges with the carrier on is out of the question!

Bad posture, weak abdominal muscles, weak pelvic floor and extra weight on top of it all amplifies the effect and prevents your abdominal separation from healing.

It’s very common for women to stand with an arched back. This is partly due to pregnancy, when your centre of gravity shifts and you start to compensate with certain muscles. You also start leaning backwards to avoid falling forward because of all the extra weight you are carrying.

After childbirth, you continue to ‘live’ in this position: your chest ends up behind your hips, your stomach sticks out, your glutes become inactive and your shoulders rotate forward. This makes your stomach muscles even weaker. Back pain is the rule rather than the exception. Your task then becomes to focus on learning how to align your body correctly, which muscles to tone and which to stretch. You need to find a neutral position that makes all your muscles work equally hard and takes the pressure off your stomach and pelvic floor.

Here are my top tips for you!

  • Carry your child on your back as soon as they are old enough.
  • Avoid baby carriers where the child faces forward.
  • If you use a baby carrier, make sure you roll your shoulders backwards and downwards, lift your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together. If you carry your baby in your arms, remember not to always carry him/her on your preferred side. Overusing your preferred side causes imbalance and overloading on that side, so carry your baby on both sides equally.
  • Invest in a new baby carrier as your child gets older. Perhaps a different model would be more suitable than the previous one as your child becomes heavier. Different models distribute the child’s weight in different ways.
  • Rule of thumb: you should be able to kiss your child’s head effortlessly – if you have to strain, the child is too low down.
  • Hold your child with straight wrists.
  • Pull your shoulders down when lifting your child.
  • Distribute the weight evenly between your feet when standing, instead of leaning on one side as many women do.
  • Alternate between sitting, standing and carrying your baby/using a pram.
  • Let your partner take turns with the carrying.

Photo iStockphoto
Illustration Trainimal Woman

Updated January 7, 2022

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