It was bound to happen, with the explosion of the use of slings and carriers comes an explosion of companies claiming to be suitable for parents to exercise whilst babywearing.
I am all for those health conscious parents who want to exercise and still spend time with their baby’s, however i would like to offer a word of concern. Postnatal bodies are fragile and quite prone to injury if the exercise isn’t gentle and suitable for the mother in question. Relaxin is the hormone produced during pregnancy, it enables the female body to grow to accomodate baby and then to birth the baby, it does this by allowing the muscles to stretch or ‘relax’. However this means that ALL muscles within the body are subject to overstretching and injury if care isn’t taken. Relaxin can be found in a postnatal body for up to a year after the birth of a child and is most prevalent in the 6 weeks post birth, which is why it’s not recommended a mother take up exercise in this time or before the 6 week check-up with your GP. This is extended to 8-10 weeks for those having undergone a Cesarean Section.
There are many companies who specialise in postnatal workouts, who are fully trained and insured not only for your peace of mind but to make sure a parent is put at no additional risk. These companies have the safety and well being of parents and babies at the fore front of their ethos.
There are however many that offer this service without giving full thought into whether or not they are capable of offering the same service. They often get round this by offering a ‘dance class’ rather than postnatal and baby exercise session, and whilst they have relevant qualifications to work with children and adults for dancing. Their insurance will not cover them for postnatal exercise or using the child in a sling during the class.
Your Child in the Sling
From a professional babywearing educators viewpoint i would discourage a parent to take up any exercise with a baby in a sling until the child has very good head and neck control. So a minimum of at least 6 months. This would ensure that any repeated movements do not cause any injury or stress to the child and that the airway of the child remains open and the parents attention never taken from the child. I would also strongly urge the parent to use a sling that has a wide base, that supports the child in optimum positioning and sits within a parents centre of gravity distributing the weight of baby equally therefore less likely to cause any added strain to the wearer.
Research the Company
With the growing number of classes claiming to be for mums and babies, it’s worth researching into the validity of these claims. Questions you should be considering asking:
Are they qualified to teach postnatally?
Are they qualified in babywearing both peer support or consultancy?
Are they adequately insured (for postnatal exercise and working with babies)?
By asking to see their qualifications and insurance certificates.
The Tell Tale Signs
There are some tell tale signs that the company or service isn’t quite all it seems. Such as:
Cagey answers when clarification is asked for.
No qualifications for postnatal or babywearing practices.
No exercise and fitness qualifications.
No sign up questionnaire or history taken pre-session.
What to Do if you are Concerned??
I would give the company a wide berth and opt for a class that has your and your babies best interests at heart, who are fully insured and trained. Legally the companies have no obligation to stop what they are doing, however the moral responsibility is clear, and they will of course be subject to a decline in further insurance IF they are deemed to be working outside the parameters of their insurance.