The average spacing between children in this country is 2-3yrs. This means that many mothers are becoming pregnant in their child’s first or second year. Mothers are then left with the dilemma of attending to their infant or toddler’s need to be carried (and their own need to get things done) while also dealing with the physical challenges of pregnancy. A good carrier can help mom attend to all of these needs at the same time.
In early pregnancy, mom may not find she needs to change much, front or back carries continue to be comfortable in any carrier she has been using. However, for some moms (including me) as the belly first starts to grow there is a period of discomfort with having anything pressing on the belly. For some mothers, this feeling never goes away and they feel uncomfortable with anything on the belly the entire pregnancy. For other mothers the feeling changes. Always listen to your body and if it hurts or is uncomfortable, try something else.
As the bump gets bigger, most moms find it works best to stop using front tummy to tummy carries. Back or hip carries can fill this gap easily. For mothers who are uncomfortable with anything near their bump, a ring sling in a hip carry can be a great choice because your baby or toddler will be above and to the side of the bump and the weight is entirely on your shoulder and back. The downside of a hip carry can be a discomfort with the uneven weight distribution coupled with the weight of the belly. This summer when I was between 12-20 weeks, hip carries made my pelvis hurt a great deal even if only used for a 2 block walk to the pool. I had to find a different solution. However, now that I am 38 weeks, hip carries are not uncomfortable. Babywearing while pregnant constantly changes in the same way that your body is constantly changing.
Back carries can be accomplished most comfortably and with good weight distribution with wraps, mei tais, podaegis (pods), and soft structured carriers. Wraps, mei tais, and pods can all be tied for a back carry to keep everything off of the bump and tied above it. Lureta is demonstrating a mei tai with a Tibetan finish. This can be much more comfortable for a mom who doesn’t like anything pressing on her tummy. Soft Structure carriers generally fit better buckled below the belly, so they may not be the best choice if you find yourself bothered by the feeling. However, I found that the buckle below the bump helped support the bump and evened out my balance with the weight in front AND back (yet somehow the only picture I have shows it above my belly).
Keep in mind that your body is changing; a few times during this pregnancy superman tossing (my usual method for getting my toddler on my back) has suddenly thrown me completely off balance and I feel weak and incapable of lifting her. Then a couple of weeks pass and I’m back to easily tossing. Make sure to avoid situations where a sudden attack of weird balance would send you both tumbling down a hill. With toddlers, this problem can often be solved by asking the child to climb on like a piggy back ride.
Enjoy your pregnancy and this opportunity to get in some last solo snuggles with your little one. Soon you will be wearing two, or chasing one around the playground while wearing another. I’ll be back in a few weeks to talk about newborn wearing (since I’ve been promised a baby in about 3 weeks).
Non-babywearing tip from Ellen: While practicing a front wrap cross carry before the birth of her third, Ellen discovered that a FWCC over the belly provided excellent support at the end when she felt like a bowling ball was just pulling down her stomach muscles. So practice for your newborn AND support your own belly with your wraps.
Posted by Ann Marie