Babywearing month is next month (in October) but did you know that if you have a baby wrap or sling carrier that you can use it DURING pregnancy before baby arrives? Some of you may know that I am a volunteer with Babywearing Connecticut (Formerly BWI New Haven) and over the last three years have learned more about babywearing than I thought possible. Not only that but I keep learning new things all the time. It’s such a fun industry to learn about! There are many types of baby carriers (if you’re curious you can read about them on my post from last year HERE) but if you happen to be a “wrapper” (someone who enjoys using baby wraps as carriers) or own a ring sling you might be surprised to find out that you can use your carrier before baby even arrives!
Why Belly Wrap?
When most people think about belly wrapping, post-partum benefits come to mind but while post-partum use of belly wraps, support bands, and corsets are great – there are many benefits to wrapping during pregnancy as well! Women around the world from many cultures have been belly wrapping to support pregnancy for centuries. Belly wrapping is used to support the weight and position of a mother’s growing belly and can help to relieve aches and pains both in ligaments, joints, and a woman’s back while helping baby to find a comfortable position which can be beneficial to both mother and baby. According to Brooke Maree, the following benefits have been reported by women who have tried belly wrapping:
- Supporting instability in your hip joints due to extra relaxin hormones
- Help to support the extra weight (often 10-20kg) through your core
- Feel more balanced
- Reduce abdominal separation
- Reduce round ligament pain
- Reduce pubic bone pain
- Help with better posture when sitting/standing
- Help baby to get into a better position for labor
- Reduce strain on your back
- Getting comfortable with using a sling or wrap before baby arrives
- Feeling good about your self – pretty wraps and nice feeling fabric can really brighten the day!
I don’t know about you; but as a pregnant mama myself and about half way through this pregnancy, these benefits sound amazing! To be honest, I’d be willing to try it for the back support alone. Everything else is a bonus.
According to Elizabeth MacDonald, blogger for “My Baby’s Heart Beat Bear” the following groups of women can especially benefit from belly wrapping:
- With a shorter torso
- Who have weakened abdominal muscles due to previous pregnancies
- Who have had a C-section
- Who are (or have been) pregnant with multiples
- Who suffer from pelvic pains and problems (SPD)
- Who have a baby in a problematic position, such as breech or transverse
Even if you don’t fall into one of these categories belly wrapping can be beneficial. As long as it isn’t painful or impeding breathing, the support can only be helpful but when in doubt check with your medical provider. It’s worth noting that you also buy support bands specifically for belly support but by using a carrier you get extra mileage out of your purchase because you can use it after pregnancy for your baby as well. Extra added bonus? If your wrap or ring sling is new, using it to wrap your belly is a great way to break it in before baby arrives!
What Types of Baby Carriers Can You Use?
Stretchy wraps, such as the well-known Moby brand, are one option to use for belly wrapping. Belly wrapping with a stretchy wrap can be really comfortable because although you want it tight, the give of the stretchy fabric allows for a customized fit and level of support. Stretchy wraps typically come in one size. The downside is that since the fabric stretches, it might be slightly less supportive than other options. Check out this video tutorial on how to belly wrap with a stretchy wrap.
Another option is to use a woven wrap. Woven wraps are different from stretchy wraps in that they don’t have any stretch to the fabric but can be more supportive and come in different sizes. Some women prefer to use longer wraps to cover their entire torso or even to support their growing bust as well but other prefer to use “shorties” to only cover their bumps. Woven wraps can be secured either with a double knot or with sling rings. Want more info on woven wraps, their benefits, and how to pick one out? See my baby carrier blog post! Below is a great video tutorial on belly wrapping with a long woven wrap:
This video is a great example of how to use a short woven wrap to support your bump and also shows the use of sling rings versus a traditional double knot:
The third type of baby carrier that is commonly used for belly wrapping is a ring sling. Ring slings are similar to woven wraps but are generally the length of a “shorty” and have double rings sewn to one side. These are generally quick and easy to use. I have found the ring sling to be less bulky and of course in the heat of the summer it’s much cooler! It takes a bit of practice to get the sling tightened in the right spot around the bump but once you get it, it’s really comfortable! Here’s a tutorial on how to use a ring sling for belly wrapping:
If you don’t own any of these baby carriers or are interested in trying a new one I highly recommend checking out a local babywearing group or store in your area. Luckily there’s a new national database to help you find one more easily! Check out Babywearing Help at: https://www.babywearinghelp.org/ while tutorials are awesome, nothing compares to hands on help and you might even make a new friend. Wishing all of you expecting mamas the best. I can’t wait to share this journey with you!
*Video Credits: Wrap You In Love
Interested in learning more? Check out the following resources for belly wrapping with a baby carrier.