April is Caesarean Birth Awareness Month so we have written a piece on carrying after a Caesarean birth. We hope that this will help you to carry comfortably when you feel ready. Birth takes its toll on your body, as does pregnancy, for that matter. However, a Caesarean delivery is a little different as it comes with the added complication recovering from major abdominal surgery.
Lots of people ask us when they can first use a sling after a C-section. The answer is, when you feel ready. In all aspects of carrying, especially whilst pregnant or recently after birth, we strongly advise you listen to your body. Do only what is comfortable, and build up to longer periods, if you wish to. This is just as important when carrying after a C-section.
What’s the alternative?
The post C-section advice generally given is not to carry anything heavier than your baby after delivery. Maximising rest and recovery time is really important. However, for some people lifting a newborn baby in arms after a caesarean birth is more challenging can than using a well-fitted sling. In a sling the weight is held into you closely leaving your arms free to manoeuvre yourself more easily.
You may also find that, after a caesarean birth, feeding can be aided by using a sling rather than supporting weight in arms or on a cushion. In this case you may wish to use a carrier from an earlier point. If you have plenty of help with lifting the baby, you may not feel the need to use a sling until healing is further underway. A sling may also be a useful tool for other family members and friends to bond with the baby and allow you to recover.
One issue is often that slings with a waistband can cause pressure around the incision, which can be uncomfortable following a c-section. For this reason carriers that have no waistband, such as a ring sling or podaegi may be ideal after a caesarean birth. A good option may be a carrier with a waistband that can be worn very high. For example, a meh dai, or unstructured buckle carrier, such as the Integra or Mamaruga Zensling. Wearing the waistband apron style, high up avoids pressure low down on your body. Stretchy wraps can be a great option. Tying the knot high, at the natural waist is usually comfortable. Tying lower down may cause discomfort. However, there are ways to tie the sling that avoid pressure on the wound from your c-section; for example, by moving the knot down to the top of the legs.
Carriers with structured waistbands often aren’t very comfortable in the early days. However, this issue tends to become less problematic as the wound heals.
In all carriers and carries, it’s ideal to get the baby into a good physiological position in which the knees are above the bottom. Raising the knees, in addition to supporting the baby in their natural position, helps to avoid baby’s feet being low on the mother and touching the wound or scar.
Woven wraps are probably the most versatile slings around, but after a Caesarean section they can be tricky to get comfy. Many wrap carries involve tying around the waist, which may not be comfortable. Carries that avoid tying at the waist are all good options, for example:
- Front wrap cross carry tied at the shoulder,
- Kangaroo carry tied at the back or side
- Front double hammock tied at the back or side
- NoNoNo (No ring, no sew, no tie ring sling)
As above, whether the baby’s feet may poke the wound is a useful consideration when selecting a carry.
Emotional healing: using a sling after a caesarean birth
Some caesarean births are planned and chosen; your birth may have been an experience that you were entirely at peace with. Caesarean births can be just as positive an experience as vaginal births when birthing people feel empowered and respected in the process.
For many, however, a Caesarean delivery may have been unplanned. Your birth may have been in emergency conditions with little time to come to peace with what can be a traumatic experience. When birth doesn’t go as planned, whether in Caesarean or vaginal births a mother’s feelings of stress and grief can inhibit their ability to bond well with their babies. Skin-to-skin contact, touching, holding and gazing at their babies can help to trigger the release of the hormone, oxytocin, which can aid attachment and bonding. Slings can help facilitate bonding after a traumatic birth, whether caesarean or vaginal.
This does not need to happen in a sling, but a sling may be a helpful tool for achieving this. Bonding with a baby does not take away the traumatic aspects of the birth. However, where a birth parent has lost trust in their body: carrying, nurturing and bonding with their baby can help them to regain a respect for their body. Bonding in slings can help parents to heal emotionally from the difference between the birth they hoped for and reality.
Do what’s right for you
It is not essential to use a sling soon after a caesarean, and the decision not to do so is something that we entirely respect. We wish to support families to make choices that work well for them. However, we often hear from parents who wish to use a sling but feel that their Caesarean birth is a barrier to doing so. We want to reassure people that there are ways to use slings following a Caesarean section. As we have already said, please listen to your body, stop or change what you are doing if it results in discomfort, seek medical advice if you experience any issues that do not seem normal following your birth. If you need more help in carrying after a Caesarean then get in touch with us, consider our consultation service, or find your local Sling Consultant using Sling Pages.
Get help with slings after a caesarean birth
If you’d like any help at any point on your sling journey, why not get in touch by email, or call us on 01133 206 545 to book a FREE 15 minute phone consultation or a longer phone or video consultation. We can help you find the right sling for your situationRecommend0 recommendationsPublished in