Recovering from a cesarean section takes longer than a vaginal birth. You will have a deep scar where the incision was made and it requires time to fully heal.
Throughout the early recovery, you will not be able to lift your baby as this will cause too much strain on your mid-section. This is a frustrating period for women but it will only last a few weeks.
After this early recovery period, babywearing is 100% safe and can actually accelerate your physical recovery. However, there are limitations and some patience required that we will discuss in more detail in this article.
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When Can I Start Babywearing After C-Section
You can start babywearing after a c-section as soon as your incision and surrounding muscles have healed to the point where they can support the weight safely. A reasonable timeframe is 4-8 weeks after giving birth.
However, you should be assessed by your doctor before you even try. If you attempt to lift the weight prematurely you could damage the tissue around your scar and delay your recovery even further.
Everyone will heal at a different rate so it is always best to take the advice of a medical professional and listen to your body’s cues.
Warning Signs You Are Not Ready for Babywearing
While you’re recovering from surgery, carrying your baby may not be the best idea right away. Some signs your body is not ready to lift after birth are:
- Your abdominal region still hurts when you move
- Your legs feel weak
- If there is still a pain in your pelvic region or lower back
- If you notice any leakage during lifting or exercise.
It’s all about listening to your body and being careful not to overdo it. When your body says ‘ouch,’ it’s not the best time to carry your baby.
A good rule of thumb is to keep in contact with your doctor for the most support and guidance following surgery.
Does Babywearing Create Long Term Risks
Your abs and lower back muscles are both heavily affected by both your pregnancy and C-section surgery. The muscles are stretched and separated during the abdominal surgery which can affect your core strength and muscle tone.
This has long-term implications for your spinal health, hips, and balance.
Using a carrier after a c-section can actually help accelerate your recovery by challenging these muscle groups. This will assist them to perform these critical functions over the long term:
- Muscles that stabilize the hips and spine
- Maintaining good posture
- Concentrate pressure and tension in your core while lifting.
- Control the rotation and stability of your core and trunk.
- Reduces the risk of long-term injury risk to the hips, spine, knees, and surgery location.
What Type of Baby Carrier is Suitable After a C-Section
If you plan on babywearing early in your postpartum recovery you will first need a baby carrier that can be used with a newborn. This limits your selection to just a few designs:
- Baby Wrap – Most suitable after a C-section due to your ability to fully customize the fit.
- Ring Sling – There is no waistband, which will help keep tension away from your abdomen.
- Soft-Structured Carrier – Could only be used with an infant insert. Less suitable after a c-section due to the waistband that stabilizes the carrier.
Most baby carrier designs are best suited for children who are four-month old and above.
By this time you should be well advanced in your recovery and will be able to use whatever baby carrier you choose.
5 Tips for Safe Babywearing After Cesarean
Position The Carrier High and Away from Scar
We prefer stretchy baby wraps for those first few months because you can tie the material in a way that is comfortable, and well away from any tender areas.
There are no clips, buckles, or straps to tighten around the waist. The soft woven wrap fabric sits gently over your clothes and around your waist so there is nothing to apply direct pressure anywhere.
Ring slings are worn over the shoulder and allow you to wear your baby off to the side, away from your incision. These can be great while your baby is small and lightweight – giving you time to heal before you upgrade to a structured carrier.
If you are going to use a carrier with a waistband then you should position this high and away from your incision.
As long as the band is in a steady horizontal position it should not cause any discomfort to your back, hips, or your scar area when you babywear.
Keep Babywearing Sessions Short
Start with short sessions and build yourself up as you gain more confidence in your recovery and build strength.
It is important to challenge yourself to accelerate your progress and you can do this at a steady pace over time.
The natural growth of your baby will also gently increase the weight you are carrying anyway so you just have to focus on the length of time you can handle in any one babywearing session.
Overdoing it will only risk stretching and scarring. So we just want to reiterate how important it is to listen to your body and rest when you need it.
Do Not Multitask While Carrying Your Baby
Yes, one of the main benefits of wearing a baby carrier is that it is easier to get things done around the house hands-free.
However, the problem with multi-tasking too early is your body may not be ready for the additional twisting, turning, and shifting of the baby’s weight. This could concentrate stress on muscles that are not yet ready for it.
When you are babywearing, then just focus on carrying your baby and maintaining good posture.
Ensure Weight is Manageable
It takes approximately six full weeks to recover from a c-section, which means no heavy lifting should be done for up to two months post-delivery.
Your baby will grow fast and may surprise you with just how heavy they can get in that six-week window!
The good news is that you will easily get a feel for how ready you are by just playing with your baby, or by how well you are coping with everyday tasks – Are you putting groceries away without feeling any strain?
If your belly hurts or there’s any stretching feeling, you’ll know you’re not ready to carry your newborn yet.
Avoid Babywearing if Taking Medication
Following cesarean surgery, you may need to take medication to help with the pain. Some of these medications will make you drowsy or even dizzy.
As a safety precaution, it is best to avoid carrying your baby when you have taken these types of medications for two reasons:
- You may not feel the damage being done by over-exerting yourself.
- If your judgment is impaired your baby could also be at risk.
It is best to only carry your baby when you are alert and focused.
A c-section will not affect your capacity for babywearing long term. But you must be careful in those early months when your incision and core muscles are still vulnerable.
You should always speak to your physician before you start babywearing.
Even after you get the okay, you are still healing and have to take it easy. You have a long way to go until fully recovered and will need to adjust your activities accordingly.
As you build up your strength again then wearing your baby as a regular practice can be an important part of your longer-term recovery. You will also be able to use a broader range of baby carriers that can challenge your body in different ways.