Baby wearing – why and how you should do it

Baby wearing – why and how you should do it

Baby wearing has been practiced for centuries and is seeing a massive comeback now. This is no surprise, as it has massive benefits. Already before my son was born I was given various tools and accessoiries to wear him, and I can say that I am now a huge fan of baby wearing.

 

The benefits of baby wearing

More body contact

You might have heard that it sis really important to have lots of body contact with your baby. It helps with attachment and bonding, calms crying babies and makes them feel secure. Baby wearing gives you all of these benefits at once. Your baby can snuggle up to you, feel you, hear your heart beat and breath. I find that my baby automatically gets calmer when I wear him, and he often falls asleep immediately.

Better views for your baby

When your baby gets older you will notice that they love to be carried around. They enjoy a good view and love to see what is going on around them. However the little ones get very heavy on your arms after a while. When you wear your baby they can look around and explore the world from a safe place without giving you sore arms.

Baby wearing is really practical

One of my favorite times to wear my baby is when I have to run errands of any kind. Like doing housework, going shopping, when traveling or even writing blog posts on my computer. When I wear my baby I have my hands free. Needless to say that my baby carrier is my life saver.

Baby wearing is good for your baby’s health

When you wear your baby it helps with correct hip development and alignment (if done correctly – see below). It also helps to prevent scull deformation that happens when babies lie on their back constantly.

Side note: if you want to prevent skull deformation when the baby is lying in the crib or stroller check out the Medibino, a small and protective baby head pillow. It is super practical and also great for traveling.

Baby wearing is good for your health too

In the beginning babies are light and tiny. But soon they will grow and get heavier. And with this increases the chances of lower back pain and sore arms when you carry them around. Wearing your baby can help a lot with that. In addition you will burn more calories if you wear your baby when going for a walk or running errands. And this helps with getting rid of the extra baby weight.

baby wearing

What you should pay attention to while wearing your baby

The right posture for the baby

When you first start wearing your baby you might not be sure if its is really good and comfortable for your baby. But there is nothing to worry about if done correctly. The baby should be right in front of your belly and facing towards you. If you are able to kiss your baby on the head the position is just right, not too high or too low. The legs should be in a “froggy” position with the knees higher than the hips. Your baby’s head should be stable and turned lightly so the nose is not pressed against your chest.

When I wear my son I basically check these points starting with the legs and feet, then I am adjusting and stabilizing the head and finally I give him a kiss on his head. Putting the baby in to the baby carrier, sling or wrap is not the easiest thing when done the first time. I had to learn all the steps myself (or with a youtube tutorial). So I would highly recommend a baby wearing class.

Please note that it is not recommended to wear your baby on your chest facing forward. I know that babies love a good view, but this is not a solution. Better try a baby carrier or baby wrap that allows you to wear the baby on the hip or on the back if they want a better view.

The right posture for you

Baby wearing should be easy and comfortable for you as well. It is supposed to help prevent lower back pain and sore arm muscles from constantly carrying your baby. To make sure it is also comfortable for you always follow the instructions of your baby carrier. Try to have a good and straight posture and do not slouch. If you are experiencing any problems while wearing your baby you might want to check out a baby wearing class.

Temperature and clothing

Another thing to consider is what clothes you and your baby should be wearing. As you will find out soon, it can get quite warm in a baby wrap because you will be heating each other up. Generally it is recommended that your baby wears one layer less clothing when wrapped in a baby wrap. I personally also let him wear socks and a hat because these body parts will stick out.

For myself I wear my baby wrap over a top, but under a cardigan. That way it is just way more practical to get in and out of the cardigan if you are hot and cold. In summer I prefer baby carriers and slings in stead of wraps because of the heat. In winter I wear a special baby wearing jacket on top of me and the baby. This jacket fits around the baby and has an opening for the baby’s head. But there are also inserts available that you can zip into your normal jacket.

The best baby wearing tools

There are tons and tons of products out there how you can wear your baby. This is just a personal selection of my favorite ones.

Baby Björn baby carrier

The Baby Björn baby carrier is probably the classic baby carrier out there, as Baby Björn were one of the pioneers of baby wearing. It is adjustable and therefore suitable for newborns and older babies. The set up is super easy, just like a backpack. And because it looks a bit like backpack it is also very popular with Dads.

Bamboo baby wraps

Baby wraps are the classic way how babys were worn an carried for centuries. Most cultures have some kind of baby wrap. While they were quite sturdy in the past, technology has evolved. The new baby wraps are made of bamboo fibre, which is super soft, breathable and stretchy. My favorite ones are made by the German company Haenschenklein. They come in various colours, and work for babies up to 25 pounds. You can get 10% discount in the Haenschenklein shop by using the code AS10 .

I personally love baby wraps when I am on the go or when traveling because they are really versatile. It works great as a blanket in the stroller, a play mat on the floor or a cover when breastfeeding in public.

Ring slings

Haenschenklein also makes great linen Ring Slings. I personally find them more fashionable and elegant than baby carriers and baby wraps. That’s why I got mine in a dark navy color and wear it preferably to formal occasions like weddings. The set-up is not as easy, so I recommend watching this tutorial. You can get 10% discount in the Haenschenklein shop by using the code AS10 .

*This blog post contains affiliate links to help cover the costs of this website.

Do you have more tips on baby wearing? Then please leave me a comment below!

 

Returning to Marathon running postpartum

Returning to Marathon running postpartum

As a passionate Marathon runner I was really happy when I got a spot for Chicago Marathon, as it is one of the 6 World Marathon Majors. But then I found out that I was pregnant, and that Chicago Marathon was only 4 months after the due date. I was not sure if I should or could return to running postpartum and run a race so soon after giving birth. But giving up before even trying is not an option for me. So I secretly made a plan on how I could make returning to running postpartum work. And luckily everything worked out, and I finished the Chicago Marathon 4 months postpartum.

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Chicago Marathon – a run through the Windy City

Chicago Marathon – a run through the Windy City

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is one of the biggest Marathons in the world and also on of the 6 Abbott World Marathon Majors. It was number 4 on my list after London Marathon, Berlin Marathon and NYC Marathon. Chicago Marathon always takes place in October on the Sunday before Columbus Day (which is a public holiday in the USA).

I ran the Chicago Marathon just 4 months after the birth of my first son. Which was a pretty big challenge. The training with the weakened pelvic floor was not easy. And it was not easy to get all baby logistics right. Luckily, my fiancé came to Chicago with me, and watched our son during the race. He even met me halfway, and I was able to breastfeed the baby in a first aid tent along the way.

My finishing time was not great because of the breastfeeding break and the persistent abdominal cramps, but I still managed to finish what I’m incredibly proud of. And even more I was pleased that Paula Radcliffe handed me my medal at the finish. She was always a great source of inspiration for me during pregnancy and training.

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What is Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) and how to treat it

What is Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) and how to treat it

Diastasis recti abdominis (or DRA) is a condition where the tissue between the straight abdominal muscles separates. Diastatis literally means seperation in Latin and recti abdominis are your abdominal muscles. It is therefore sometimes also referred to as abdominal separation. This condition is most common in pregnant and postnatal women, because the growing uterus stretches the abdominal muscles. However it can also affect every man or woman for various reasons.

I was very careful to not develop diastasis recti during my pregnancy, and yet I am still facing a small gap between my abdominal muscles three months after giving birth. Therefore I am writing this blog post to explain the causes of DRA, how I tried to prevent it and how I am trying to treat it.

Note: I am not a doctor or health professional. Everything in this article is about my personal experience only.

How to diagnose diastasis recti

You can easily test yourself if you have DRA (unless you are currently having a baby belly). Just lie flat on your back and find your navel with your fingers. Press your fingers into your belly slightly below and above your belly button. Now lift your head. Your abdominal muscles should contract and you should be able to feel (or not feel) a small gap with your fingers.

In this Youtube video you can see an example how you can check for DRA.

Causes of diastasis recti

Pregnancy hormones and a growing belly

Diastasis recti abdominis occurs in more than half of all pregnancies. The reason is that you growing baby and uterus expand and put pressure on your abdominal muscles from the inside. The muscles and ligaments are already soft because of a pregnancy hormone called Relaxin. It is absolutely normal and okay for your abs to separate a little bit during pregnancy. However it is important to not aggravate the situation and to rehab it after giving birth. (see below). This is even more important when having several kids, as every pregnancy increases the likelihood of DRA.

Accidents with strained abdominal muscles

The tissue between your straight abdominal muscles can also stretch when you put too much load on it. This sometimes occurs with bodybuilders or power lifters, but also with everyone lifting heavy objects without the right technique (like lifting your kids or heavy furniture)

DRA in newborns

Diastasis recti is also quite common in newborn or premature babies, simply because their abdominal wall is not fully developed. This is not dangerous and most of the time it should go away on its own.

Prevention of diastasis recti

The biggest factor of preventing diastasis recti is to exercise your straight abdominal muscles the right way at the right time.

Always use proper technique

As DRA can also happen by accident, it is important to always use proper technique when lifting heavy objects. Always engage your whole core, and pick an adequate weight. Sometimes also belts and bands can help to stabilize your core, but they should not be used to lift weights that are too heavy otherwise.

Also when you are pregnant and already having a baby belly it is important to not engage your straight abdominal muscles. Therefore always use the right technique when getting in and out of a lying position. Never do it straight as you were used to, because this puts too much pressure on your straight abs. Always get up and down via your side. This means that when getting up, roll onto your side first and then push yourself up. When lying down lye down on your side first.

Train your straight abs before pregnancy, but stop after the first trimester

A strong core is beneficial for a lot of things, like better posture and less back pain. Therefore it is recommended to train your abs before pregnancy, but to stop after the first trimester or as soon as your belly starts to show. This also includes stability exercises like planks or other exercises that require engaged abs. You will see that when doing these exercises your belly will form a bulge outwards which is a general warning sign for DRA. Once your diastasis recti has disappeared you can train your straight abs again.

Train your obliques and transversus abdominus muscles during pregnancy and afterwards

While training your straight abdominals is not recommended later in your pregnancy as it can increase diastasis recti, you can and should train your side abs (also called the obliques) and your transversus abdominus. This is the muscle that spans your tummy horizontally and which is not very well known. But we use it everyday for example when coughing. The best exercises to train it however are breathing exercises that are also useful to recover from DRA after giving birth.

A study of the Columbia University also has shown that doing the right abdominal exercises during pregnancy can reduce the risk of diastasis recti compared to no exercises.

Treatment of diastasis recti

To treat diastasis recti abdominis you should first see a health professional, most likely a physiotherapist. Very often this is done in the hospital after birth or during a postnatal rehab course. In some countries this service is often covered by public or private health insurance.

I was assessed by a physio three days after giving birth, as well by my midwife in the weeks after. In addition I have completed a postnatal rehab class. In total I was given the following exercises to help with my diastasis recti:

  • Belly breathing: when lying on our back practice active belly breathing. This means that you lift your belly when inhaling, and pull it towards your spine when exhaling. You can also imagine that the sides of you belly will move closer together, and that your belly button will contract towards your pubic bone.
  • Belly breathing advanced: like with the exercise above, start with simple belly breathing. Now do a few sharp exhales while making the sound of the letter “F”. You can also try the letters “P”, “K” or “T”, and contract you pelvic floor upwards and inwards at the same time.
  • Leg extensions: Lie on your back with your legs bent. Now slowly slide one leg to a straight position parallel to the floor, and pull it back.

 

I hope that with all that extra knowledge you will now be able to prevent and treat your diastasis recti. As always please contact a health professional if you have any questions.

6 things you need in your hospital bag that nobody told you about

6 things you need in your hospital bag that nobody told you about

If you are expecting your first child you are probably equally nervous and excited about it. And you wonder about a thousand things at the same time. Congratulations, this is absolutely normal. You will do great. And do make things even easier for you, here is a short list of things for your hospital bag that I really needed as a new mom, and that nobody told me about before. All of these are super helpful either for nursing, at the hospital or to recover from birth.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to help cover the costs for hosting this website.

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