Mommy, Carry Me!
A woman's body is made to endure the physical exertion of everyday life. It is even specially crafted to protect a fetus from the harsh extremes of life outside the womb. Many women have been told that lifting during pregnancy is not allowed. It is not out of concern for the fetus, but out of concern for injury to the mother. While heavy lifting should be avoided, there are no specific rules on weight limits. Many types of lifting simply cannot be avoided.
With most first pregnancies, expectant mothers find plenty of time to kick back, relax, and rest their bodies whenever they feel the need to. However, as the pregnant belly begins to bulge with a toddler underfoot, the rules change. The toddler doesn't understand that mommy can no longer hold him. Carrying one child is difficult enough, but carrying multiple children, even when one is in the belly, proves to be a tricky feat. The risk of injury can be significant if proper lifting techniques are not observed.
Pregnancy hormones cause the ligaments to soften, helping the pelvis to widen in preparation for childbirth. These softer ligaments can cause the joints to be slightly less stable than a woman may be accustomed to. A growing belly also shifts the center of gravity forward, making loss of balance, and even a fall a possibility. In addition to injury for the mother, a fall could lead to harm for the baby, possible leading to preterm labor or premature separation of the placenta.
Practicing safe lifting habits during pregnancy is very important. One should always bend from the knees, keeping the back straight, and use the leg muscles, rather than the back muscles. Carrying your other children, (or any other heavy load), should be performed with caution to minimize strain or injury. It is best to face the object to be picked up directly, so as to avoid twisting the body. While there are no set weight limits, if the weight causes any amount of strain, it is too heavy to lift.
- Maintain a stable stance, with your feet planted firmly shoulder-width apart.
- Lift from the legs. Squat down and use your legs to bear as much of the weight as possible as you stand.
- Keep the back straight. Don't lean over. Bending over at the waist as you lift puts all the stress of the weight on your back.
- Move slowly. Try to make the entire lift one smooth motion and movement of yourself and the child as one unit.
- Let your children climb onto you. It may be impossible to completely avoid carrying a toddler. There may be times when you have to immediately pick him up out of harm's way, or he just demands to be held. This is often a good excuse to sit down, and have him climb up onto your lap for a hug, instead of trying to lift him.
- Try not to carry the child on one hip. If your belly is too large to hold him any other way, switch hips often. Otherwise, it is best to keep the child as balanced as possible in order to maintain good posture and your center of gravity.
- Ask for help when you need it. Pregnancy-related back pain is common enough without undue heavy lifting. Most people will jump to help a pregnant woman with any load, large or small.
While carrying multiple children can be a difficult task, it may be unsafe if the proper methods are not used. It is always best to follow the advice of your doctor or midwife. They will be able to advise each woman individually on what is safe, based on her body and pregnancy specifically. It is important to allow the body ample time for rest and avoid overexertion. Women who have been diagnosed with any type of pregnancy complication should strictly adhere to their healthcare professional's orders in regards to lifting.