Carrying the weight of your child in a baby carrier is going to challenge your back, shoulder, and core muscles in new ways. This can be a daunting thought for anyone who has experienced back pain in the past.
Unless you have an existing injury then babywearing should be within your physical capacity and you should be able to do so without experiencing back pain if done correctly.
In this article, we will discuss the potential causes of back pain when using a baby carrier, and offer some tips for how to alleviate the pain.
Why Does my Baby Carrier Hurt My Back
Your baby carrier will hurt your back if it is not worn correctly, you do not maintain proper posture, or the weight is too much for your level of strength.
All three issues are correctable and we will do a deep dive into each of them so you are aware of the potential causes of the back pain and know the solution.
Position Your Baby Carrier Correctly to Avoid Back Pain
If you already have a back problem then the most suitable carrier position will depend on where you feel the most pain. This will be unique to each individual, but generally, we are looking to move the primary support area away from the pain.
- Lower Back Pain – Front or back carry works if the weight allows you to keep an upright posture and avoid twisting.
- Upper Back Pain – Hip seat carry lowers that point of stress and your hips can take more of the weight, with the upper body only providing stabilization.
Here are some common mistakes that people make when using a baby carrier that can lead to back pain.
Ensure Correct Waistband Positioning
The waistband is the first part of most carriers that you put on and correct positioning is critical to ensure that the carrier achieves the proper weight distribution.
- Waistband must be horizontal – an angled band will cause strain to your back.
- Position at the high end of the hip bones.
- Strap must be tightened to minimize movement when in use.
Your baby must be close enough to be able to kiss them without reaching or hunching over. If they are too low then you should move your waistband upwards and you should feel less pressure on your back after doing so.
Shoulder Straps are Adjusted to Fit
The shoulder straps of your carrier should be adjusted so that the baby’s weight is evenly distributed across your back and shoulders. And that the center of gravity is as close to your spine as possible.
If the straps are too loose, your baby will sag down and pull on your back and shoulders.
It is important to support the weight of your baby when making these adjustments so that there is some slack in the straps. Otherwise, you will be fighting the weight when tightening and you may end up with a loose fit.
Clip-in all Support Straps
Some carrier designs have additional support straps across the chest. Make sure you remember to clip these in.
These straps help distribute the weight of your baby more evenly and can prevent pain in your back and shoulders.
Ensure Baby Positioned Correctly in Seat
Be sure to position your baby correctly in the middle of the seat of the carrier.
If they are off-center then this could create an imbalance that heightens the risk of straining a muscle in your back.
Are You Physically Strong Enough to Carry Your Baby
Your body has been through a lot through pregnancy and your postpartum recovery and the healing process should be well advanced before you consider babywearing.
Dad can do the babywearing until you are ready to go!
Wearing a baby carrier can be great exercise and you can improve your capacity to do so if you pay attention to the following:
Most women will experience a separation of the abdominal muscles from connective tissue through their pregnancy (AKA diastasis recti). This means your core is weak and may require treatment before you consider babywearing.
You should consult with your doctor prior to carrying any heavy loads that will require you to engage your core.
When carrying your baby be sure to maintain a straight spine, head up, and shoulders back.
If you start to slouch then this could be a sign of fatigue and you should take a break. The longer you carry the weight of your baby with poor posture the greater the risk of back pain.
There is also a risk of overcompensating in your posture. This can lead to further back problems in new areas so it is important that you still have a relatively even weight distribution.
Carrying a baby for long periods of time can be tiring and as mentioned above, can lead to slouching.
Try to build up your endurance over time by carrying your baby for short sessions for the first few weeks so your body has time to adjust to the new demands.
You will build up muscles in your back from regular babywearing and this is an opportunity to strengthen muscles and overcome back pain issues if done correctly.
Suitable Baby Carrier Designs
While no baby carrier should ever cause back pain if correctly used there are parents out there who have pre-existing back problems.
If you are looking for a baby carrier to minimize back pain then you should consider the following:
- Soft structured baby carriers – lightweight and fully adjustable.
- Pre-fabricated baby wraps – the wrap experience without having to wrap.
- Lightweight backpack carriers – these are fine if strapped in tightly and your baby is still a smaller toddler.
Less Suitable Designs:
- Baby slings – weight is often concentrated on one side of the body when using slings.
- Baby wrap – they are fine once tied up, but it is a process that requires twisting and bending if on your own. However, the custom fit of a wrap could be a requirement for some parents to be able to wear their baby.
- Heavier framed backpack carriers – the design is fine, but too big and heavy.
If you follow the tips above you should be able to wear your baby with little to no pain in your back.
There are so many great benefits to babywearing and it is a great experience that all new parents should be able to enjoy.
If you do start to experience back pain after babywearing then you should first consult with a physiotherapist or doctor who can help assess and treat any underlying issues.