Would you love to carry your baby after a Caesarean Section? Are you worried about doing this safely and comfortably, both for you and your baby?
The great news is that there is a huge choice of slings, wraps and carriers that could work for you. Ones that will be comfortable for you as you heal physically, and for your baby as they enter the big world! I will take you through things to consider when choosing what you are going to use.
I will also take you through when you can carry after a C-section, and my top tips for being comfortable!
1. Why is carrying your baby using a sling great for C-section mums?
There are just so many benefits of using sling wrap or carrier for all parents of little babies, but some of these are even more relevant for those who have had a Caesarean Section.
- You can carry your baby close to you, where they want to be, without your arms getting weary! A sling, wrap or carrier will spread the weight, and allow you to be comfortable. Your baby will also be more content.
- With your hands free, you can hold on to banisters when using stairs, play with older children, or even hold your partner’s hand!
- You can get around more easily. Prams and car seats can be heavy, and pose the risk of injury when lifting, for example in and out of the car. With a sling, you can leave the car seat in the car, and carry your little one in something very lightweight instead. If you aren’t driving yet, you may feel able to get out and about on foot or public transport more easily.
- Carrying your baby increases the likelihood that you will be able to breastfeed successfully. Breastfeeding can be especially challenging for C-section mums in the early days. With guidance, using a sling, wrap or carrier as a breastfeeding aid can help to support you both!
- Holding your baby close helps to regulate your hormones, making you feel better. It is proven to reduce the chance of developing Post Natal Depression. It helps to increase the bond with your newborn baby.
2. When can I start carrying my newborn baby in a sling?
The simplest answer to this is, when you are ready. If you don’t feel ready, your partner or another person in your family can carry – what a great way for them to bond with the baby!
Do you feel confident and comfortable holding your baby in your arms? You may want to hold off if you are still unsteady on your feet, or on strong painkillers following your Caesarean Section.
Many mums are advised not to carry anything heavier than your baby. When using a sling, wrap or carrier, you won’t be adding more than around 1-2 pounds to your baby’s weight, and as this weight is distributed around your body you should feel that the baby is lighter than when you are holding them in your arms. Contrast this to a typical car seat, weighing in at around 7 pounds – this could double the weight you are carrying! As your baby gets heavier, you will find that your own body gets stronger, and you will grow together.
Many mums worry about the baby being close to their scar, but as I will show below the baby is likely to held a fair distance away from the scar. If you are having issues with your scar, or are having a difficult physical recovery, you may wish to seek advice from your health care team on whether the are concerned about your carrying. Showing them the pictures below may help!
If your baby was premature, had a low birth weight or has special medical needs such as feeding tubes or is on oxygen, it is always worth getting specialist support in using a sling from a babywearing consultant such as myself. We can help you to use a range of slings and carriers safely, and accommodating your baby’s needs. The minimum weight requirement for most carriers is around 8 pounds, but there are other options which will suit smaller babies.
3. How long can I carry for?
When babies are tiny, the amount of time you can carry them for is limited to the time available between nappy changes and feeds! For most parents, this will mean carrying for up to a couple of hours at a time maximum. When a baby is positioned correctly and safely, there are no strict time limits like there is with car seats.
When you are recovering from birth, whether vaginal or by Caesarian Section, it is best to gradually build up the amount of time you carry for. Carry around the house or in the garden, then build up to getting out and about. You may wish to have a back up plan if you are going further afield, either a pram or someone else to share the carrying. Listen to your body. If you start to feel uncomfortable, stop. For more tips on using your sling, wrap or carrier for the first time, see 5 Top Tips for using a sling for the first time
4. Won’t the baby be pressing on my scar?
Newborn babies are usually carried in a chest to chest position. With small babies, this means that they are high up on their mum’s body, to ensure that their airways are clear and they are at no risk of suffocation.
Newborn babies generally have tucked up legs, and slings that help to hold your baby in a “pelvic tuck” position will help to keep baby away from your scar – you certainly shouldn’t be at any risk of being kicked as the scar is low. Your post-partum belly will also provide a bit of a buffer zone!
5. What sling, wrap or carrier is best for carrying following a c-section?
As mentioned above, the aim it to chose a sling that will carry baby safely in a chest to chest position, and with a pelvic tuck. As well as keeping the legs away from your scar, this is best for baby’s developing hip joints.
This opens up lots of different options!
Stretchy wraps are a great option for newborn carrying. The fabric itself is soft and mould-able to your body. It can be spread out to reduce the chance of any pressure points on your recovering body. A stretchy wrap can also be used as a breastfeeding support.
Ring slings can take a little bit of getting used to with a new baby. They have the advantage of not having any fabric around your waist. The are also great value, as they will last to toddlerhood and beyond.
Many people worry about buckle carriers, as they are concerned that the waistband will press on their scar. In reality, the waistband will be much higher up, between the bottom of your breasts and your natural waist. If you are particularly worried, you may wish to look at carriers which have softer, narrower or less padded waistbands such as the Ergobaby Embrace.
The Marsupi is a lovely option for someone who wants a really simple, quick and easy to use carrier. It is made from soft fabric, and there are no buckles or knots to dig in. This picture shows me 4 weeks post c-section, you can see how far Matthew is away from my scar.
Please steer clear of any carriers that don’t hold the baby in a pelvic tuck, you may find yourself being kicked where you are tender if baby’s legs dangle. As well as being uncomfortable, they are also likely to hold baby too low and loose. This could pose a risk to the baby’s airways.
Need more help?
Hopefully, I have shown you the benefits of using a sling, wrap or carrier after a Caesarian Section. By starting to carry when you feel ready, building up gradually, and choosing a good sling, you can enjoy the many benefits as you recover from birth, and grow in to parenthood.
If you would like more support in choosing and using a sling, wrap or carrier, why not look at how I can help? Consultants such as myself are experts who have helped hundreds of families just like yours to carry their child comfortably, confidently, and above all safely. We are be able to advise on the safety and suitability of a sling you already have, or provide guidance on what option would suit your needs best. We are also fellow parents who can provide technical sling advice but also signposting to other services, and a listening ear when needed.
Please note that nothing in this blog is a substitute for the medical advice of your GP, midwife or health visitor.
Would you like more information on choosing or using a sling, wrap or carrier for your newborn baby? Fill out the form below for my FREE V-book, or check out more details of how I can help