If you are a mother who loves babywearing your first-born does this need to stop now that you are pregnant again?
It is safe to use a baby carrier or wrap while you are pregnant provided that you have the all-clear from your doctor or midwife. To babywear safely while pregnant, factors such as the stage of your pregnancy, suitable carrying positions, the type of carrier being used, and how your body is feeling are are all important considerations.
Pregnancy is still a good time to carry your older child. Apart from all the usual benefits of babywearing, it helps them to feel secure while all the changes and preparations begin to welcome a new member to the family.
Here are a few points to consider when using a carrier while you are pregnant:
Will Babywearing Hurt MY UNBORN BABY?
Make sure you talk to your gynae or midwife to see if you are in good health to lift and carry your older baby or toddler.
Carrying your baby is considered a form of exercise so it is important to assess your fitness level and the condition of your pregnancy.
Mother Nature provides a safe and protected environment for a foetus, which floats in amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac, which in turn is protected by the muscles of both the uterus and the abdomen.Owen Montgomery, M.D.
On average a one year old weighs only 10kg (20 pounds) which is well below the weight considered safe for a pregnant lady to carry all day.
The uterus is a muscular organ that protects the baby from the jostling of a mothers day-to-day activities. This combined with the protective buffer formed by your amniotic fluid and the extra weight gained during pregnancy, protects your baby from the harmful effects of most daily abdominal contact.
When carrying your toddler the downward force of their 10-18kg frame is not enough to harm the baby in your womb.
If you have a complicated pregnancy or have any health concerns it is always best to speak to your doctor before lifting or carrying your little one.
THE EFFECT OF BABY CARRYING ON YOUR PREGNANT BODY
If you are quite experienced at babywearing you will be able to sense what feels normal and what doesn’t.
Being on your feet for a prolonged period of time while pregnant can result in poor blood circulation through your body and this can cause dizziness or lightheadedness.
If you feel nauseous, dizzy, light-headed, out of breath, or are feeling very tired, you should take a break from babywearing.
Once you have rested and are feeling yourself again, consider readjusting your baby carrier to ensure that you have a good fit and are not putting you body under any unnecessary stress.
HOW CAN I SAFELY CARRY MY BABY IN THE FIRST TRIMESTER
The first trimester is often when pregnant women feel the most fatigued or nauseous.
This is also a good time to experiment with positions like back or side carrying.
HOW CAN I SAFELY CARRY MY BABY IN THE Second TRIMESTER
In the second trimester, most women start to feel like they have more energy and so babywearing should be easier.
Your baby bump begins to grow making front carrying less comfortable so back carrying will likely feel most comfortable at this stage.
Your ligaments start to become looser during the second Trimester, so the more equal the weight distribution on your body the better.
For some mothers side carrying is still an option but the uneven weight distribution can put unnecessary strain on your your body, so if you decide to side carry be careful not to strain your back in doing so.
HOW CAN I SAFELY CARRY MY BABY IN THE third TRIMESTER
In the third trimester, you will need to gauge how you are feeling and if babywearing is still possible.
The hormone Relaxin now increases dramatically so your ligaments and tendons become softer and more elastic. Your pelvis also starts to widen for delivery and the muscles in the middle of your ribs start to loosen to allow for the growth of the baby.
Sore breasts are common during this stage of pregnancy.
Hormonal changes are preparing your body to feed your baby. This is another reason why front carrying is not practical in the late stages of your pregnancy. Back carrying your child will prevent any unnecessary agitation of your breasts and is a much better option.
What is the best type of baby carrier when pregnant?
The best choice will always be an ergonomic baby carrier that can hold your baby in the correct M-Position. The M-poisition is when your baby is in the seated position with thighs and legs spread across the mother’s body to keep the hips stable and the knees higher than the hips.
Brooke Maree, Babywearing Consultant from Australia notes that;
Babywearing while pregnant is fairly simple. Do what feels most comfortable to you, listen to your body, and never restrict your growing baby’s movements in the womb. All doable with hip carries, back carries, and placing your waist belt above or below your bump.Brooke Maree
THE BEST BABY CARRIER FOR CARRYING WHILE PREGNANT?
Wraps are the most versatile of carriers and can be adjusted into many positions. They can also be tied above or below your belly or even tied in such a way as to avoid your belly completely by tying around your chest and shoulders.
Wraps can be used for front carrying (earlier on in pregnancy) or side or back carrying. Pay attention to how you wrap, ensure you have balance and that you secure your baby by tightening the fabric in key areas.
After some practice, you will get a feel of where to tug and pull to get the right tension.
Please note that most wraps have a maximum weight limit of 10kg, so cannot be used on older babies.
Mei Tai carriers have a soft structured back panel for your child with straps that are pulled around your waist and shoulders and tied into a knot.
When wearing a Mei Tai, the back position is the most comfortable while pregnant. You can also tie the waistband above or below your baby bump. Mei Tai’s are easier than wraps especially if you are a first-time baby wearer.
This is a Japanese word “Onbuhimo” which means “back carrying strap”. “Onbu” means carry on the back and “himo” means rope or strap.
Onbuhimo’s are shoulder-only carriers that don’t have waistbands so you will not need to worry about tying near your baby bump.
Your baby’s legs go through the straps and the bottom of the panel is tucked up under your baby’s bottom. The straps are then tightened to secure baby.
A Soft Structured Carrier
This is the most worn carrier during pregnancy. The buckle carriers have padded waist belts that distribute the baby’s weight to your hips which is more comfortable for pregnant women.
THE BEST Positions to wear your baby IN WHILE PREGNANT
The best baby carrying position is dependent on how far along you are in your pregnancy.
Front carrying is only a consideration in the first trimester and with the all-clear from a medical practitioner. Wraps or soft structured carriers are the best option when front carrying while pregnant.
Hip carrying is also a good option in the first trimester when your baby is still small and your body is not yet readying itself for birth.
You may be tempted to start hip carrying in the second trimester as front carrying becomes less comfortable. Make sure that you are still feeling up to it. You body will be starting to prepare for child birth and your ligaments may be loosening during this trimester. So be extra careful that you do not hurt yourself carrying your baby on your hip.
Back carrying is the best position to carry your child while pregnant as it puts the least strain on your changing body; distributing your weight over your hips and shoulders.
It is likely to be the most comfortable position particularly in the third trimester.
SAFE PRACTICE FOR BABY WEARING WHEN PREGNANT
If you are new to babywearing take it slow and practice, give your body time to adapt. It is important to mention again that if any pain or discomfort is felt in your legs, back, abdomen, neck, or shoulders rather take a break and readjust the carry position after you have rested.
Pay careful attention to picking up your child too, so as not to strain yourself. Let your child climb up onto your back from the couch rather than picking them up directly yourself.
You will feel more tired towards the end of your pregnancy especially as your body prepares for labour. If you are tired stop carrying and have some cuddle time on the couch instead.