THE BLOG

The Down-Low on "Down There": Babywearing & the Pelvic Floor

babywearing pelvic floor postpartum Feb 03, 2024

In addition to being a babywearing consultant, I also have the privilege of working as a prenatal and postpartum fitness instructor.

Now, there isn’t always overlap in these roles, but one thing that comes up over and over again, no matter whether I’m in a babywearing workshop or a prenatal yoga class, is this:

 

The pelvic floor.

 

Otherwise known as the boogeyman of motherhood (womanhood?)

 

Many of us never received any kind of education on the pelvic floor before pregnancy, and even then it’s usually waved off - just do your Kegels and go seems to be the refrain of medical professionals in this country.

 

And while it’s a professional mission of mine to educate women on how essential (and misunderstood) pelvic floor health is, today I’m honing in specifically on how it can influence your babywearing journey.

 

If you want to know everything you should have been told about your pelvic floor (but weren’t), go ahead and check out my other blog post here.

 

Til then, let me present you with 7 things you need to know about babywearing and the pelvic floor

 

  1. Many “baby carrier problems” are actually pelvic floor problems

    Low back pain, shoulder and neck tension, and feelings of pressure while babywearing are pretty common complaints from many of my clients, especially if they’re newly postpartum. And while sometimes this is due to a fit issue or carrier misuse, it’s also often complicated by pelvic floor issues that haven’t been diagnosed or treated properly. Getting your pelvic floor evaluated and taking steps to revitalize it could be your key to babywearing success.

  2. Some carriers may be easier on the pelvic floor than others

    There are many factors that determine which carrier will be a good fit for your body, but if you’re experiencing pelvic floor weakness or dysfunction, here are some general carrier guidelines that might be easier on your body:
    a) consider carriers with no waistband, such as ring slings and onbuhimos, which tend to result in less downward pressure on your abdomen and pelvic floor
    b) carriers with less structured waists, such as wraps, meh dais, and apron-style carriers can also be easier on your pelvic floor while still distributing the weight across your torso.
    c) avoid forward-facing until your pelvic floor is in tip top shape - this position tends to make your posture suffer, which leads to all kinds of pelvic floor strain.

  3. Posture is key

    Speaking of posture, check on yours! I notice many babywearing parents adopting the “pregnancy stance” without even realizing it - knees locked, butt tucked forward, belly out, shoulders slightly slumped. This provides a nice little shelf for your baby to sit on in the carrier, and also wreaks havoc on your pelvic floor (and your body in general). Loosen up those knees, kick your pelvis into neutral, and get your ears and shoulders in a straight line with your hips - you’ll thank me later!

  4. Babywearing can be a part of you solution to pelvic floor issues - but not always

    When done correctly, with guidance from someone who understands babywearing AND body mechanics/pelvic floor, babywearing can be a great tool to use to improve the way you move. It can provide more balanced weight distribution than in-arms carrying, can gradually increase weight as your baby grows to help you ease into stronger muscles in your core, provides some pressure feedback to help you see where your weaknesses are, and can provide easier opportunities for postpartum exercise & activity to improve circulation, muscle strength and coordination, and more.

    The problem here is that a lot of people DON’T understand both babywearing and the pelvic floor very well, so the advice you get can be conflicting and confusing. Not only that, there are certainly times when babywearing will exacerbate pelvic floor issues! The key here is ensuring that you’re asking the right people for guidance and listening to what your body is telling you.

  5. Back carrying is your friend

    As soon as you are able (and make sure to check the guidelines for back carrying on your carrier), get that baby on your back! Back carrying is much easier on your pelvic floor because the weight is better distributed, isn’t pushing down right on your abdomen, and is less likely to make you want to take up the pregnancy stance I mentioned above.
    With the right carrier and education, back carrying can even be done with a very young baby, so it’s definitely something to explore if you’re worried about your pelvic floor. And even if you aren’t…many people with perfectly healthy pelvic floors still eagerly anticipate back carrying because it’s often more comfortable and gives you back your range of motion in the front.

  6. Don’t mistake commiseration as advice

    I love the tendency that mothers have to make each other feel less like freaks. When we hear someone complaining about peeing their pants or feeling uncomfortable in their carrier, often our first instinct is to let them know they’re not alone. It happens to all of us, you’re not alone, is what we’re trying to say…but sometimes in doing that, we dismiss things that deserve attention.
    Just because other moms experience low back pain while wearing doesn’t mean it’s ok. Just because someone tells you that it’s normal to feel like something’s going to drop out of your crotch while babywearing doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Learn the difference between what’s common and what’s normal, and learn to appreciate the commiseration without mistaking it for rule of law - there are so many things we just accept as fate in motherhood that are actually anything but.

  7. When in doubt, consult with a pelvic floor physic

    Which leads me to my last point, which is that everyone, and yes I mean EVERYONE, should see a pelvic floor physical therapist. I know that that isn’t accessible to everyone, whether because of location, health insurance, stubborn doctors, what have you, but if you’re able to take advantage of this service, DO IT. Pelvic floor PTs are heroes.
    If you aren’t able to see one, for whatever reason, at least make sure you use a hefty grain of salt when evaluating what other people tell you about your pelvic floor. There’s a whole lot more to it than just doing your Kegels three times a day, and since it’s one of the most important muscle groups in the human body it’s worth a little extra consideration!

If you're experiencing pelvic floor issues, or just want to be proactive in keeping it nice and healthy through all your adventures in motherhood (go you!), please reach out to me or check out my pelvic floor services at my sister company, MomBod Fitness.

You won't believe how little you knew about about your pelvic floor...and how great you feel once you get things back on track!

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