One key to healing your core after pregnancy is your alignment. I often discuss how three key alignment changes (hips over heels, neutral pelvis, and neutral ribs) minimize intra-abdominal pressure and turn on the deep core muscles.
But for many new moms, a common question arises: how can I maintain alignment and healing while baby-carrying or baby-wearing?
Holding a squirming bundle in our arms, or in a carrier, throws off our posture and strains our core.
So let’s discuss how to do this in the most core-safe way.
How to Baby Carry In a Core-Safe Way
The Newborn days
In those first few weeks, when your newborn has no head control, you’re likely using your hips to support the weight, and rounding over to keep them secure. It’s very hard to maintain good alignment in this newborn stage!
The good news…This only lasts a couple months. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself in those early days.
Once Your Baby Has Head Control
However, once baby has a little more head control and is getting heavier, it’s time to become more mindful of your body position.
Holding in Arms
Our tendency is to throw one hip out to one side (usually the same hip every time) and let the baby rest on the shelf of our hip bone. This position is less than ideal.
It makes it hard to engage our deep core muscles and increases outward pressure on the abdominal connective tissue. This increase in pressure is particularly harmful if you have diastasis- recti or a prolapsed pelvic floor.
We can ease that pressure by keeping the hips square. When you pick the baby up, use your arm to hold the baby (as much as possible) rather than the hips. When one arm gets tired, switch to the other side. You can also take them in front with both arms as support. At first, this feels hard and strange. With time, you will build arm strength and it will become easier.
As your baby becomes a toddler, try to use the piggy-back method when they need to be carried. This allows you to keep alignment and squared hips while giving tired toddler legs a break.
For those of you using a baby carrier, here are a few tips that will help you maintain alignment and minimize intra-abdominal pressure.
As soon as baby is big enough, move them to the back instead of carrying on the front. This allows you to use the natural protection of the bones in the back, the ribcage and spine, to avoid straining the core.
If your baby isn’t big enough or isn’t ready to be on the back, make sure that while you front carry you don’t shift your hips forward as you get tired. Instead, lean forward slightly and take breaks often.
Regardless of whether you wear your baby in front or back, makes sure that the straps are fitted properly. You want the baby nice and snug against your body and the waistband snug around the hips. When the straps are too loose, we tend to move into poor alignment to compensate.
In general, make sure you take breaks as often as possible to avoid fatigue in your muscles.
Even though it feels like you will be carrying that heavy child around forever, I promise you, those days will be behind you soon enough! Your core (and entire body) will appreciate the time and attention you put into proper baby carrying during this season of your life.