Some of the most common queries I read are:
- When can I carry after a c-sec?
- When can I carry after giving birth?
- When can I back carry?
- When can I carry my baby?
There are others, but largely they fit into these categories. What they all have in common is they are all start “when can I”.
I have seen various responses to all of these questions over the years. Some of these have been worded better than others and some have just made no sense. Each time I read them (and more often or not reply), I think “I’ll blog about that”. Well, ta da. The key to all of these questions is you. There is no right or wrong for any of them. It is to do with you; your comfort, your confidence and your ability.
I have talked in detail about carrying after a caesarean in a separate blog so will focus primarily on the others here. However, in summary, as long as your feel comfortable to carry and there is no medical reason or complication, you can carry as soon as you want. This maybe the same day, day 7 or even 7 months, it’s your body, your baby and your choice.
When can I carry after giving birth?
Although the most common query I see here is regarding a caesarean birth, having a “normal” birth doesn’t mean that you can always carry immediately either. For many women, after a uncomplicated birth they may be quite comfortable to carry their new baby straight away. For others though, pre-birth, birth or post-birth complications or interventions can make using a sling the last thing you want to do. You do not need to wait till your 8 week check, after all a new baby wants carrying then, not in 4,5,6,7 or 8 weeks time.I have been in both camps. Following the birth of my eldest, I haemorrhaged and felt very unwell. It took me until 3 weeks after his birth (basically his actual due date), to feel comfortable holding him in arms let alone use the carrier we had. Isaac on the other hand was carried 8 hours post birth and he would he been worn earlier if he hadn’t arrived in the middle of the night. Both of these deliveries were technically “normal” vaginal deliveries but both could not have been more different or left me feeling more different. It was my knowledge of carrying by the time I gave birth to Isaac that gave me the confidence to carry him from the start. This does not mean that the “delay” I had in carrying Henry was the wrong thing, far from it, it was the right thing for me at the time. I listened to my body and went with it.
Listen to your body. Try it, if it is uncomfortable on day 1 try again in a few days. Be prepared that when ever you do start to carry that your body will need time to adjust. You are beginning a new form of exercise and as such your body needs to get used to it. Taking care not to over do it. There can be a feeling that we must get back to “normal” as quickly as possible after giving birth but remember you have just grown a new human being, your body has just gone through some major changes and there are lots of hormone changes that need to settle. It is perfectly ok to say something isn’t right for me today and to rest and allow yourself time to recover.
When can I carry my baby?
Newborn babies primary comfort zone is in the arms of their caregiver. Our chest and arms mean they are safe and this is why babies want and need to be held. It may seem odd but I am often asked if a parent is “allowed” to carry their baby. This can come in the form of questions regarding the age or size of the baby. It is understandable that new parents can be nervous about doing something wrong or hurting their precious bundle.
Fundamentally though, their is no minimum (or maximum) age or really minimum weight. For extremely premature or low birth weight babies, not all carriers will be suitable but that is where carrying consultants come in. We know what is suitable and what can be used and will work with you to find a solution. We may not be able to address your and their needs in a 10 minute Sling Library slot but we can use our expertise to support you. This may initially just be by providing the options that are available or more information on carrying, or it could be finding you a sling and teaching you to use it safely and confidently.
When can I back carry?
This one is controversial! There are some schools, primarily based on the continent, who will not teach back carrying to babies that cannot sit unaided, or who will not teach multilayer carries or show buckle carriers etc. This blanket “No” approach does not fit with me and most UK consultants. We want parents to feel empowered to do what is right for them and their family. The key once again is you. Do you have the skills needed (or willingness to learn them) to get your baby on and off your back safely? Are you confident you can monitor them? Is the environment in which you want to learn/try a safe and supportive one? If yes, then carrying them on your back can make life easier for you in some instances but it doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong by continuing to front carry. There is no best before date on back carrying.
I hope this blog will give you a little confidence to try something new. Carrying your little one can be an amazing experience. It can allow you to feel empowered and maybe even a little bit like Super Mum. But do it when you feel ready. Don’t feel disheartened if it doesn’t work straight away or think that because you haven’t carried them before that you have done something wrong or that you can’t start now. As Mums, we simply do what is best for our babies at that moment in time and what is best can change minute by minute, week to week.