Baby Wearing: Posture 101
I LOVE baby wearing!!!
Baby wearing is an exceptional way to be able to carry baby around the house, go on walks, get tasks done, hands free nursing and to sooth baby.
I wore my daughter daily for the first year of her life and then almost daily until she was 2, when she was more interested in roaming around on her own when we went for walks.
I loved using a stretchy wrap when she was newborn for the first 6 months of her life. It was easy to wear throughout the day, even when not wearing her. So that if I needed to scoop her up and put her in I wasn't fussing with putting the carrier on first.
Then I switched over to a soft structured carrier. This distributed her weight more evenly through my body as she grew and I was able to put her on my back.
I tried woven wraps, but never became proficient with them to the point that they were more convenient than the soft carrier.
With my son I've been switching between the stretchy wrap and soft carrier based on the weather. Each season brings a different challenge. In the winter you need to make sure baby and you are warm without over heating.
On warmer days I've been using the soft carrier because I can snuggle him under my husbands wool vest staying toasty warm without either of us overheating. On colder days I've been using the soft carrier since I put him into his bunting which is too thick for it to be comfortable in the stretchy wrap.
And I can't wait to explore carriers to wear in the water this summer!!
Since baby wearing is becoming more popular there are so many types of carriers available and I suggest doing major research to find the type, brand, material, budget, etc that is right for YOU.
Each carrier has it's own comfort level and fits each body type slightly differently. There are some great blogs out there that offer more information about carrier fits for body type.
Designs have come a long way for comfort and support to the wearer, especially since some of us wear baby for hours. But even with a great fit, wearing baby for hours can be tiring and can cause discomfort.
This discomfort is more likely if your body is unable to provide the core support and endurance necessary to carry extra weight.
The biggest factor that effects the comfort of baby wearing, beyond the type of carrier is your POSTURE.
During pregnancy posture shifts and changes as your belly grows and your center of gravity moves forward, increasing your low back curve tipping your pelvis forward, and lifting up the front of your ribs. This is exaggerated with the stretching and weakening of your abs and pelvic floor.
And after months of working on overdrive to support your body and growing baby your core muscles need to recoup and recover after birth. Especially if either muscle groups are injured during birth, such as tearing, episiotomy, or csection.
However, a natural birth without injury can also take time to reconnect to your core, especially if you have never consciously connected to your core before.
And after birth your body has a lot of adjusting to make to resume proper posture, including stretching tight muscles, strengthening weak muscles, shifting joints, moving organs all while healing.
This means that sometimes posture never resumes proper alignment. Because let's be honest many of the tasks needing to be done as a new mom can put you into new awkward postures.
So being mindful of posture as a new mom is very important during the healing process to prevent body aches.
Since baby wearing challenges your core it can reinforce improper postures learned during pregnancy as well as cause new bad habits.
What I've noticed the most with myself while baby wearing is needing to be mindful of where my ribs are positioned. I tend to pop my ribs forward, like a bell ringing to the front of my body. If I were to keep this position while wearing my son for an hour my back would be very achey.
So how do you check in with your posture while baby wearing to avoid back ache?
Do the following after you have baby in the carrier:
- Find pelvic neutral - Imagine your pelvis is a bowl. The front rim of your bowl is your pubic bone and the back rim of your bowl is sacrum. Tip the bowl to pour water out the front and then back and settle into a position where your bowl is open upward.
- Blossom the back of your pelvis out to the sides - From the center of your back pelvis (just below belt line) imagine arrows pointing in opposite direction outward gently creating space around your sacrum.
- Lengthen your spine - Lift through the top of your head and reach through your tailbone creating length and space in your spine.
- Soften your ribs - Imagine your ribs are a bell. Make sure your bell is open down toward your pelvis. So the openings of your bowl and bell face each other. Softening through your chest and opening up through your mid back.
- Relax your shoulders - Let go of any tension in your shoulders and neck by rolling your shoulders and keeping an equal distance between your shoulders in the front and back.
Once you have found this position, focus on using your core to support it. So each time you inhale fill your ribs in all directions and fill down into your pelvis and belly, without over expanding your belly. When you exhale follow the inward movement of your belly with your pelvic floor and abdomen, feeling a lifting of the pelvic floor and flattening of the tummy without loosing your good posture.
Why is posture while baby wearing (& in general) important to your pelvic health?
- Poor posture slows the healing of diastasis recti and vice versa. A diastasis recti contributes to poor posture. So being mindful of good posture will help the connective tissue in your abdomen heal and strengthen reinforcing proper abdominal muscle function. And proper abdominal function helps with bladder control, organ support (avoiding pelvic organ prolapse) spine function, digestion, body mechanics and much more.
- Poor posture puts more pressure into the pelvis. When your pelvis is under more pressure the organs within, muscle around and the joints supporting are under pressure. This means they all have to adjust how they function under normal pressure to high pressure and typically it means not doing what they are suppose to. For example, controlling your pressure becomes more challenging.
- Poor posture leads to all types of musculoskeletal pain, not only in the pelvis, more commonly in the sacroiliac joints and pubic symphysis, but also up and down the chain, into the spine, hips, even further out to the shoulders, knees and feet.
Every time you practice this good posture and core support you reinforce proper joint mechanics and muscle & organ function which provides long term health for your pelvis and all around body.
Making baby wearing not only more enjoyable but a sneaky way to get in some exercise!
If you want to learn more about proper posture and body mechanics as a new mom and reconnecting with your core to make those every day tasks easier and more enjoyable check out my self-paced, pelvic health education packed signature program, Expecting Pelvic Fitness.