Why do toddlers turn into small demonic versions of themselves when they are tired!? I have finally settled my tantrummy three-year-old in a sling on my back. Some people say carriers are woven with sleepy dust and I am one of them! Even before I have secured the knot I can feel her breathing settling into a restful pattern, her soft face on my back and her muscles relaxing. She knows she is safe and I am going nowhere without her. I can finally relax too, chasing her in and out of other people’s legs as I try to carry shopping had taken its toll on my body and I can feel the now all too familiar ache starting in my hips. As I start to relax knowing I can focus on myself a bit more, I am reminded that my other passenger is enjoying being carried as my baby’s fluttery kicks and movements fill my womb.
A question I do get asked regularly, especially at the moment is “is it safe to carry while pregnant? As I write this I am 27 weeks pregnant with my second child and have SPD, otherwise known as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (see why I use the shortened version. My daughter is a three year old chunk, while she walks most of the time, we still have those moments of her needing a nap while we are out, or to be carried when her little legs get tired. We live in a valley which means hills in every direction and pushing an almost always empty buggy around with us seems silly to me as well as adding pressure when walking up or down hill.
SPD is a condition that affects many women during pregnancy, it is excessive movement and a misalignment in the pelvic area cussing pain. This therefore does affect carrying while pregnant, I choose to carry my daughter with the aid of a sling for the short periods she needs me as it still puts less pressure on my body than it could if I carried her in arms on pushed a buggy. I do encourage my daughter to walk and we have spoken about how my hips are uncomfortable for me which she seems to understand. She does now tell me her hips hurt ‘in her neck’, so she tidies her toys away, but that’s another joy of parenthood and sassy toddlers.
My wrap collection has helped me during this pregnancy in many ways, other than simply carrying my toddler. The beautiful woven fabrics make a beautiful alternative to pelvic support belts and can be just as effective, they can also be used to “bump wrap” which can offer a relief from the weight of your growing baby.
All health concerns aside, carrying when pregnant can be perfectly safe. A huge part of your considerations before carrying while pregnant is where you doing it before you conceived? If your body was used to carrying the weight the muscles needed are already in place so continuing to carry will be safe and comfortable, however you may find that as your pregnancy continues you need more rest breaks. When pregnant it is safe to maintain muscle, it is just not advisable to try and build muscle in a gym setting or in other ways, you would be able to continue to lift at a weight you have been lifting previously but you should not be trying to up that in anyway.
If you are new to carrying and want to start during your pregnancy it is probably not the ideal time, it could however be the ideal time for your partner! While their bodies are not changing and they have little choice but to take a back foot during the pregnancy, carrying and learning to carry can empower them. Having a skill set that can comfort and ease some of the pressures of parenting is a wonderful and satisfying feeling, the non-pregnant partner can then take the lead and support their partner to carry once the child arrives.
Every pregnant woman carries slightly differently and that will in turn affect how you choose to use your sling or carrier. That being said, this is the case whether pregnant or not, as all bodies and muscle development is different. For me I found that a back carrying was the best option for me as it kept her weight central to me, as well as keeping her off my ever expanding tummy. Hip carries may also miss your tummy but will not hold the weight of the child central to you and therefore may not be the right option for you. A standard tummy to tummy carry will again keep the weight distribution central but will inevitably be tricky and uncomfortable as your bump grows.
Carries using a “waist belt” (this being a wrap pass or a structured belt) are really uncomfortable and so I choose to carry using woven wraps, podeagi (aka POD) and onbuhimo (aka Onbu), as they can be tied missing the waist band. This does put more of the weight over my shoulders but I found that ensuring there is a strap or wrap pass across my chest, I was very comfortable. I could also use a ring sling or pouch in a back carry but with my breasts very tender I did not find it worked very well for me. I could also choose an assisted back carry (where someone else puts the child into the carrier) with a stretchy wrap but I find the weight of my daughter much more comfortable in woven over stretchy fabric.
A close friend of mine carried her daughter in a soft structured carrier (SSC) throughout her pregnancy, including during her Sling Swing classes (that she teaches). She chose to carry with the waist strap below her bump and found this very comfortable. Getting the best sling or carrier for you will be down to how your body develops and changes, I never recommend a carrier, until you try it for a period of time you cannot get a real feel for what works for you. Taking recommendations from your friends can be nice to try what worked for them, but I always recommend going to your local sling library and hiring before spending out. If the first carrier does not work for you it does not mean that there is not one out there that will.
· Yes it is safe if you have previously been carrying
· Maintaining muscle is ok, building muscle is not recommended
· Sometimes we have to choose the lesser of two evils
· Wraps make great pelvic support belts
· Starting your carrying journey when pregnant is not ideal
· Partners can benefit by learning to carry for you both
· Keep the child’s weight central to you
· Try before you buy!
· Try before you buy!
· Try before you buy!
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