Footwear and Babywearing

I haven’t really gotten into the habit of writing blogs, but this issue has recently cropped up in my life and so I thought it was good timing to share.

How many times have you thought ‘is my footwear appropriate while I am babywearing?’

I’ll tell you why I’ve been thinking about this. Twice in the last month I’ve fallen. Both times while carrying my son and both times wearing the same pair of shoes. Thankfully beyond me having a sprained ankle and a scabby knee, there were no injuries. In fact, my son slept through the first incident. Neither incident has put me off carrying my child, but they got me thinking.

On top of my ‘weak’ ankles the common factor in both these falls was my shoes. These are the offending footwear.

They look pretty sensible, right? Well, they don’t fit properly. They are too wide, too low at the side and therefore provide minimal, to no support from rolling my ankles. On level ground they were not a problem, but on uneven surfaces they created problems. Problems that were exacerbated by the fact my centre of gravity had shifted due to carrying my 23lb boy on my back.

I’ve since replaced these shoes with a new pair. These ones to be precise (excuse the crazy socks).

They fit my feet so much better and generally provide much more support to the side of my feet. I’ve had no issues with uneven ground since I started wearing them, which means I can enjoy wearing my boy with confidence again.

Now I don’t want to dictate the type of shoes you wear while babywearing, but here a few things to consider.

Centre of Gravity

When babywearing, your centre of gravity changes, no matter how tightly your baby is held against you. Hopefully carrying your child encourages a more aligned posture, but purely by the nature of carrying more weight, your centre of gravity will shift from what you are used to. This in addition to fact that babies and children move. They change position constantly, and although it will most likely be fairly subtle changes while in a sling or carrier, this can still affect your centre of gravity. Baby’s position in the sling or carrier will help with this. A suitably tight sling that is at an appropriate height on baby’s back for their age and a good pelvic tuck will help with avoiding awkward positions that can throw you off balance. In the picture below the sling is at an age appropriate height up his back, it’s nice and tight and he has his bum lower than his knees giving him a lovely pelvic tuck that is not only comfortable for him, but also helps support his back and neck.

Positions like this below are to be avoided if at all possible (this picture is the right way up).

These changes to your balance due to a shifted centre of gravity are something you need to be aware of, taking care particularly on slopes and stairs. Wearing loose fitting shoes, slippers or even flip-flops create additional trip hazards that become more of a risk when your centre of gravity is shifted.

Joints

Wearing well-fitting and supportive shoes is something to be considered especially in the first few months postpartum. This is due to the wonderful hormone relaxin, which is responsible for allowing your body to actually birth your baby, by making your ligaments more lax. This doesn’t just apply to those in your pelvis, which you are actively encouraged to exercise and protect during and after pregnancy. It applies to all within your body, including those in your ankles. Taking extra care, in those early months, of all your joints will help them recover from pregnancy and will help avoid any long-term problems. Providing more support to your ankles will reduce the risk of you rolling them on uneven ground and will help protect you from falls.

Other Considerations

It is summer, and coming into the season of weddings, garden parties and other occasions where ‘dressing up’ might be needed. Now I am not suggesting you shouldn’t wear heels while babywearing (men and women included here), but it might be worth considering the type of heels you choose. When you wear heels, your centre of gravity changes and it is also changed by babywearing. These changes are likely to be fighting against each other, making you more unstable than you might normally be. Consider opting for smaller and wider heels and try to avoid items of clothing that could create additional trip hazards.

In reality falling while babywearing is pretty uncommon. You can reduce the risk further by considering your environment, removing trip hazards, adopting a nice relaxed upright posture and by considering supportive footwear.

Any questions? Just ask.

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