So so often I hear
"I'm not sure about babywearing because I have a bad back" or
"the sling is hurting my back" or
"after a while my back stated hurting"...
I really want to bust the myths that
A. Babywearing causes back pain
B. You should just ignore any back pain
We are super lucky to be working with Barry who is a highly qualified sports massage rehabilitator (MSc) with a specialism in pre and postnatal care.
Here are our top tips on keeping your back healthy and post partum bodies looked after while babywearing ...
1. “Babywearing hurts my back” Should I stop?
It is important to not assume that the pain is as a result of baby-carrying. But if you feel pain or discomfort when babywearing – don’t ignore it as you could cause yourself unnecessary pain and a problem that is harder to treat! A well fitted, properly tightened sling should not, in itself, be causing the back pain. Whilst baby carrying may alert you to the pain, there will always be an underlying issue that will be causing the discomfort – usually very treatable! Either that the carrier needs adjusting or the back issue needs treating.
2. Is it ok to babywear from the beginning?
Especially in the early post-partum days, while recovering from birth and still under the effects of relaxin, slings help to distribute the weight of your baby evenly through your weightbearing axes – which promotes the natural toning of your muscles needed for post partum recovery. It will put less strain on your back than lugging a car seat around, or even lifting a heavy pram in and out of the car/house. So yes it's ok to babywear from the beginning and a wonderful way to bond. But above all else, listen to your body. Babywearing makes us feel like we're invincible. Don't go for a 10 mile hike 5 days after giving birth!
3. Is Carrying Post C-Section ok?
It is definitely possible – and in my opinion and experience (Barry's lovely wife has first hand experience) – hugely beneficial! It's so important to stick to the advice not to carry anything heavier than your baby (eg heavy car seats). It is so important for the recovery of your body post surgery. Baby carrying allows you to not only have the closeness – but it is also less strain on your abdominal muscles – in comparison to carrying baby in your arms. It also means that you can use your arms to support you as you move around while carrying baby safely.
Keep in mind your sling choice should put no pressure on your scar area. Something like a stretchy wrap or a close caboo are great choices both for the fit around baby but also as they don't have hefty waist bands that can press onto your scar. Again, listen to your body. A sling can lull us into a false sense of security that we can do it all. Settle baby in the sling and sit down! Be careful not to over do it.
4. How do I choose a sling that won't hurt my back?
Visit your local sling library. I would highly recommend seeking out professional advice on both the correct fitting of the sling, and the best one for your body. With so many to choose from, by visiting a library you will soon fall in love with the perfect fit. The way in which you gave birth can affect your choices, as well as ease of use, comfort on your body and, for some, design! A well fitted sling, properly worn and tightened should not cause any back problems.
5. What's the ideal position for baby in the sling?
Keep your baby high and tight in the sling – as well as central when carrying. This will encourage a balanced posture as well as utilising the largest weight bearing axes of the body. You will prevent strain on your muscles, ligaments and the pelvic floor. (As well as being optimal safety position for your baby)
6. Don't forget about the lifting you're doing
Remember the rules of lifting! This is especially important when you are lifting your baby in and out of the sling! Ensuring your knees are bent and you have the correct posture will help alleviate additional (unwanted) strain on your body.
7. I'm new to babywearing and my back aches...
If you have never used a sling before, (assuming you've got a well fitting one) you will need to build up your strength in using it. (It's why babywearing from the beginning is so fab, as your muscles will get stronger gradually as baby grows).
Go for regular walks with your baby in the carrier / sling. This is the perfect exercise for the early days post partum- but remember to be aware of your posture and ensure you are carrying baby correctly. If you gradually increase the length of time you are walking for, you will slowly tone your body as well as reduce the occurrence of soreness after exercising. (You wouldn't run a marathon as your first ever running experience)
8. If I use the sling for too long will it be bad for my back?
There is no magic number of hours it's ok to carry for. A well fitting sling should cause no problems to a healthy back that is used to babywearing (built up muscle as baby grows). After all special forces carry those huge backpacks up mountains! But take regular breaks especially if you're suddenly increasing the amount of babywearing (while on holiday for example).
9. I have a bad back but I want to babywear, can I?
If you have an underlying back issues, chances are babywearing will exacerbate it. Please please get it checked out and treated. You will not want to carry on babywearing if you feel uncomfortable. And even the best fitting sling in the world won't help if there is already an issue. Book an appt with Barry!
10. Can I carry my toddler?
Yes absolutely! Big kids need carrying too. Get booked on to a back carrying workshop. Carrying a heavier load (aka your toddler) on your back is going to be a more effective way of spreading their weight.
Barry has his own clinic in Chelmsford, has appointments 7 days a week and offers a fantastic discount to babywearing mums and dads. Check out his website here to book! https://www.essexsportsrehab.com/offers/