Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry on the Back

Recently, Hello Magazine featured an article on French actress Marion Cotillard carrying her son in a sling. Despite the sensationalist title, I thought the article itself was well-balanced and informative.

The last sentence in the article said: "A child should be carried on your back when he or she weighs over 17 pounds".  This sentence has since been removed from the article. Why? Could this have anything to do with the uproar elicited by this sentence in some members of the babywearing community?

Of course a blanket rule is unhelpful. If a mother is told that she can no longer carry her 17-pounder on the front, then many mothers would stop carrying their babies altogether past the age of 4 months, or even earlier. This would indeed be a great shame.

Rather than a "use by date" for front carrying, I think there is a "best before date". Take a packet of butter. Its quality is guaranteed before the best-buy date; this does not mean it will go off on that exact same day. Chances are it will be absolutely fine for some time still, though the consumer should exercise common sense (smell and taste) to judge whether the butter is still good.

Same goes for babywearing. It is best to switch to back carrying as soon as possible, feasible and safe for both mother and baby. The 17 lbs cut-off weight could be seen as a best-before weight.

Experts agree that it is best to carry a baby on the back, in order to protect the perineum and strengthen back and tummy muscles. Carrying baby on the back alleviates the pressure on the perineum and strengthens core muscles by redressing the mother's posture.

Back carrying requires practice, patience and perseverance. One cannot be expected to master it overnight. However, if the mother is aware that this is best for her posture and pelvic floor muscles, I am sure she will find enough motivation to master this most fantastic skill.