Whether you just learned about babywearing, or you’ve been dreaming for your entire pregnancy about wrapping your little one close to you, one thought may give you pause: what if I have a C-Section?
Although the procedure is extremely common, a Caesarean Section (emergency or planned) is still a major surgery which requires you to rest and take special care of your body as you heal. There are plenty of different types of baby carriers, but all varieties are designed to wrap around mom’s torso — right near the sensitive site of your C-Section.
Can you still enjoy the full rewards and benefits of babywearing? Will you be able to wrap anything close to your stomach at all?
The answer is yes! You can still babywear, even if you had a C-Section.
Keep in mind, you may need to take a few extra precautions to do it safely and comfortably. Because your body has gone through surgery, you won’t be able to babywear immediately after your baby is born.
Follow these tips and precautions for babywearing after a C-Section, to ensure it will be a safe, comfortable, and pleasant experience for both you and baby.
Ask Your Doctor When to Start Babywearing
We know, it sounds like old and tired advice, but it’s really important to get your doctor’s professional opinion before you try strenuous activities after a surgery. Everyone’s body will recover from a C-Section at its own pace and you may experience more or less discomfort than other women you’ve talked to or read about; so, there’s no guaranteed time that you’ll be able to start babywearing.
It depends on how quickly your body is recovering, both in the abdominal area where your scar is healing and in terms of regaining your overall muscle strength and stamina. Ask your doctor for the go-ahead to try wearing your baby. If doc says your body isn’t quite ready, ask again in a week or two.
Pay Attention to Your Body’s Recovery Signs
Another tried and true piece of advice: listen to your body. While your doctor can give professional advice on your health, your body can also tell you a lot about its own strength and recovery.
Monitor the pain in your abdominal area — is it steadily lessening, day by day? Does the pain feel worse when you bend over, or pick things up?
How is your arm strength? Are you able to hold baby for long periods at a time, or only in short bursts before your arms tire out?
Check for signs that your body is recovering smoothly. Does your scar look like it’s healing properly? Is there any bleeding where there shouldn’t be? Are you experiencing discharge, redness, or pain in other areas of your body?
Even once your doctor has given you the green light to start babywearing, your body will tell you if it’s not quite ready yet. You know yourself best, and only you can honestly say how strong and comfortable you feel. If you feel ready to try babywearing, give it a go (gently, of course).
Position Your Carrier High, Above Your Scar
Baby carriers are generally designed to be worn high on your torso, keeping baby’s head up close to your own head and neck. Some carriers have a strap or waistband that rests near your belly button, while others have no waistband.
The most tender area after having a C-Section will likely be at your abdomen, right near your scar, so it’s important to wrap your carrier so that it sits above your stomach (it shouldn’t touch the recovering wound area). Try placing the waistband up high, so it’s not touching your sensitive abdomen.
Practice putting on the carrier without baby in it (some parents like to practice wearing the carrier with a doll or stuffed animal inside, to get used to the feeling!). If having the carrier fastened around your body causes additional pain in your abdominal region, you may want to wait a few days and try again, giving the scar a bit more time to heal.
Experiment with Different Carriers
You don’t have to pick the first carrier you see, or the one your sister-in-law used and can’t stop raving about. Everyone’s body and baby is different, so a carrier that works wonderfully for one person might not be the right fit for you.
If the first carrier you try isn’t comfortable when wrapped around your torso, try a different style. Ask friends, family, or fellow parents in your community if they have a carrier you can test out. See if there’s a parenting support group or babywearing community in your area; and if you want more personalized help, seek out a babywearing consultant who can give you hands-on guidance.
It’s also important to ensure the carrier fits you properly. Some carrier styles are adjustable (this is helpful if more than one person plans to use the carrier), while others are fitted to one person and need to be purchased in the right size for your body. Always read the instructions that come with your carrier to ensure you’re using it correctly.
Start with “Baby Steps” - Carry for Short Periods of Time
This may seem obvious, but don’t begin your first day of babywearing by carrying your little one for hours at a time. Ease into the activity with short periods of babywearing, followed by rest breaks for your body.
Because your body is recovering from surgery, you’ll need to work your way back up to many activities you used to be able to do, like exercising, lifting a stroller or car seat, and even vacuuming. Also included in those activities: carrying baby around.
You won’t be able to babywear all day, and you likely won’t be able to multitask while babywearing at the very start. Begin by simply wearing your baby and walking around the house. As the days go on, try babywearing for longer intervals at a time; then, work your way up to being able to manage tasks while wearing baby.
Don’t Lift Heavy Items While Carrying Baby
In the recovery period after a C-Section, you shouldn’t lift anything heavier than your baby. That also means, if baby is in your arms or wrapped snug to your torso, don’t pick up anything else until you put baby down.
When you first start babywearing, it’s enough for your body just to get used to supporting baby’s weight. Don’t additionally try to hoist a heavy diaper bag over your shoulder, take out the garbage, or pick up a stroller. As your muscles regain strength and you feel more fully recovered, you’ll be able to lift more weight with increased stamina.
Pro tip: Always lift heavy objects with your legs to avoid injuring your back.
Try, Rest, Try Again (Emphasis on the Rest)
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” In the middle of “try” and “try again,” someone forgot to mention taking a rest period. This is very important!
The first time you try babywearing after a C-Section, it may feel uncomfortable or unpleasant — this is normal, and it’s totally okay. It doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to babywear comfortably. It’s likely just a sign that your body needs to recover a bit more before wearing baby.
Take a break for a few days and allow your body to rest. Hold your baby for short intervals and avoid strenuous activity. Then, try again. It can be frustrating to feel like your body is incapable of doing such a basic task like carrying your baby, but don’t give up. Remember all your body has gone through in the past few months! If you think about it, it’s truly impressive that your body can handle even small daily activities.
As hard as it is to wait, time is your friend. As your body recovers, you will get to a point where you can babywear safely, comfortably, and happily — you may even forget you had a C-Section at all! (Okay, perhaps it’s too soon for that...)