GUEST POST 2: Lynette Daffern (Baby-wearing peer supporter): GOOD POSTURE FOR YOU AND YOUR BABY
Lynette is a mum to two children, she loved baby-wearing her babies, so trained as a baby-wearing peer supporter and is now nearing the end of her training to be a Pilates instructor. Thank you so much Lynette, for writing this post!
Any questions anyone has with regards to this post can pop me a message and I’ll get the answer for you or will help out where I can.
Being pregnant and having a baby are not great for your posture. While pregnant the extra weight on your front from carrying baby in the womb often causes your spine to curve more to help you balance. Once baby has arrived: together you’re learning how to breast feed holding them in cradle position because that’s the position you’ve seen other mums breast feed in; or what feels like constantly giving them a bottle hunched over trying to make sure they get more in their mouth than down them; having to hold baby in your arms all the time because they don’t like being put down - a natural instinct to stay close to their carer for survival, but annoying when you really need to pee; carrying bulky, awkward infant car seats because you don’t want to wake baby; and bending over cribs trying to make sure they stay asleep when you put them down at all times of the day and night. It’s no wonder new mums have sore backs. Tip, best breastfeeding position with a newborn for good posture, is laid back feeding, aka biological nurturing, get all the cushions and pillows in your house to make sure your back is well supported, lie back on them, do some skin to skin and let baby get on it with it .
Baby-wearing is an amazing skill to master to free your hands to do other things, like feed yourself or get a drink. Sling Libraries and Meets are great places to get advice and help with wearing a sling safely and comfortably. I’ve been volunteering at St Neots Sling Library Meet since 2015, I’ve had the pleasure of helping lots of new parents and parents whose baby is getting bigger and they want to move on to the next sling, find the right sling for them, we hire slings out for you to try for a month to make sure it’s right for you.
Newborns are best in a stretchy sling or Close Caboo as it holds them in the best anatomical position, supporting their spine in a c shape and as long as you have it tight enough, with the edges of the sling spread from knee to knee, it holds them in an ergonomic position that is good for the spine of the person carrying the baby too. A narrow based carrier (like the original Baby Bjorn) or even ergonomic buckles carriers with newborn inserts are very tricky to get a newborn into a good position for their developing spine and this is why baby-wearing consultants and peer supporters will recommend waiting until baby is at least 4 months before moving on to a more structured buckles carrier.
Once baby is 4 months, more alert, stronger and some are prone to throwing themselves backwards, you can move on, there are so many slings and carriers to choose from, going along to a library meet is the best way to find the one that works for you. Ergonomic slings support baby from knee to knee, tilting baby’s pelvis to round their spine in a supported c shape, making sure the sling is high and tight ensures comfort for the wearer and meets TICKS safety guidelines. Some parents are lulled by marketing into thinking their baby will be happier if they face outwards. Yes, babies look cute facing out in a sling. Yes, they are curious about the world around them and want to see what’s going on. However, outward facing, away from the wearer, is bad for baby’s back and bad for your back. It puts strain on your lower spine, because it throws your centre of gravity out of place, this can then cause lower back pain and knee pain. Baby’s don’t need to face out in a sling, they have very flexible necks and can turn the top part of their body enough to see as much as they want to see while the rest of their body is still facing the sling wearer and once baby is over 6 months and can sit independently you can wear them on your back, if you get them high enough they can peep over your shoulder and see what’s going on until they get tired or have had enough, then they can snuggle down for a nap.
Neutral spine doesn’t always feel natural after adopting a poor posture and reminding yourself to stand tall, shoulders round and back, tail bone tucked under, isn’t a priority when you have a small one depending on you. Pilates is the answer.
Some Pilates moves that can help whilst carrying baby
Whilst baby-wearing safely you can practise your Pilates breathing, in through your nose and out through your mouth, keeping your shoulders down, feel your rib cage expand to the side and back on the inhale. On the exhale squeeze your pelvic floor and tummy muscles to about 25-30% so not all the way in, just a comfortable amount that you can easily hold.
Roll your shoulders up, round and back, imagine sliding your shoulder blades into pockets on your back, 4-5 times, remembering to breathe and hold your core muscles in. Roll them forwards to really release the tension you’ve been holding, do this 4-5 times.
5-6 side bends on each side. Slide one hand down the seam of your trousers on the side of your leg, imagine you are standing between two panes of glass, so no twisting forwards or backwards. If that feels ok, you can take your opposite arm up to increase the stretch.
Spine twists 6 on each side. With your arms in Cossack position crossed in front of you behind baby, twist to each side keeping your hips pointing forward. This may not be a big movement, that’s fine, breath in to prepare and as you breathe out, holding your core and pelvic floor in twist to one side, breathe in as you come back to the centre and out as you twist to the other side. Imagine you have headlights on the front of your hips and they stay pointing forward.
Or if not carrying your baby; Get down on the floor and do tummy time with your baby. Get yourself into child’s pose and stretch out your arms, walk your hands to one side and hold for a couple of breaths (or as long as baby lets you) and remember to do the other side when you get the chance.
For more information: http://babyslingsafety.co.uk/ticks.pdf
Pre and Post-natal Pilates are great ways to work your body; preparing it for the changing stages of pregnancy and being a new parent.