Firstly, I am not a medical practitioner, I am a babywearing consultant and sling librarian who has worked with many mums who have had a caesarean section and helped them to find ways to carry their babies comfortably and safely. If you are in any doubt you must consult your midwife or General Practitioner. The key to carrying after a caesarean section is to wear baby nice and high and ensure sling is tight but avoiding the woman’s scar. Incidentally the tight and high rule applies to mums who have had a vaginal delivery too and simply having a vaginal delivery does not mean you are necessarily ready to carry immediately either. The amount of time post-delivery where women will feel comfortable carrying will vary from mother to mother and there is no ‘set’ time from when it is safe to carry.
There is no right or wrong sling to use after a caesarean section. In all cases care should be used and it is beneficial to select those which do not have structured waist bands which naturally sit lower on the mothers’ abdominal muscles and can place pressure on their stomach and scar. Slings which experience has shown are suitable for using after a caesarean section include ring slings, wraps (woven or stretchy) and even carriers such as the Connecta Baby Carrier. The benefit of these is that you are able to keep the sling away from the scar tissue and stitches.
Using a sling or carrier can play a crucial role in allowing a mother to regain her strength and posture after the birth. The key is to listen to your body and to build up the amount of carrying you do. Your body will develop muscle strength and get used to carrying your baby. Do not assume you will be able to carry for hours straight away. Your postnatal body will need time to adjust and remember you will still have increased levels of Relaxain in your system, especially if you are breastfeeding.
In the first 6-8 weeks all women post-delivery are not advised to undertake physical activity until they have had their 6/8 week check from their GP. This does not mean that women should be confined to the house and using a sling or carrier allows them to undertake gentle exercise such as walking. This will help woman to start building up muscles again. Time and care should be used when placing baby in the sling to ensure the mother engages her pelvic floor and core muscles. This is particularly important for women who have had a caesarean section as they are advised against carrying anything heavier than their baby. This therefore means they should not lift car seats or heavy travel systems and prams. The use of a sling for skin to skin contact can be beneficial in helping mothers to bond with their babies and help increase breast milk production both which can be hindered by caesarean deliveries. Using a sling allows them to get out and start to socialise and help with mental wellbeing and help reduce risk of post natal depression.
If you want to carry and are unsure of the most comfortable way to do so it is worth having a consultation with a babywearing consultant or trip to a sling library. The knowledge and experience they have gained will help you find carries which are comfortable. Remember there is no date by which you must have started carrying. You should only begin using a sling when you feel comfortable, do not rush your body. If you want your baby to get used to being carried in a sling ask your partner, grandparent or even a friend to carry them for you.