Every pregnancy is different. While moderate exercise offers many health benefits, putting too much strain on your body through heavy lifting can be dangerous for you and the developing baby. For moms who already have a little one at home, exercise restrictions can pose a problem: Is it safe to carry around a toddler while pregnant?
Why Carrying a Toddler Is Harder During Pregnancy
Your growing belly is already a significant weight for your lower back muscles to support. Your center of gravity changes during pregnancy so you may find yourself more prone to backaches or wobbly balance. Pregnancy hormones also loosen ligaments to prepare your pelvis for birth, which can also mean other joints are easier to injure.
On the other hand, you may not always have the option to refrain from lifting your child! During times when you can’t ask your partner for support, you may still find yourself needing to pick your toddler up out of bed, load a little one into the car seat, or console a crying child.
Fortunately, during most healthy pregnancies, you should be cleared to lift about 30 pounds, which is enough weight to clear many toddlers. Practice safe lifting by following these rules:
- Bend your knees and keep your back straight. Leaning forward or hunching your back can put additional strain on back muscles.
- Wear shoes with proper support. High heels can mess with back alignment and balance so give yourself a strong foundation.
- Plan in advance so you don’t need to carry your toddler long distances. Going on a day trip? Make sure you bring the stroller so your tired tot can rest.
- Listen to your body. Your pre-pregnancy activity level and day-to-day changes in your body can affect how much weight is comfortable to lift. Trust your body’s signals for what feels okay and when you need to stop.
Pregnancy Complications That Make Lifting Dangerous
Before about month five of pregnancy, it’s often still comfortable for most women to lift their toddler. This advice assumes your pregnancy is complication-free, though. Signs you need to be more careful include:
- Spotting or bleeding: Your doctor may ask you not to lift anything heavy, even your child, to reduce miscarriage risk.
- Early contractions: Similarly, contractions early in pregnancy are cause for caution so you don’t go into labor before you’re ready.
- Pain: If lifting your child hurts, stop! Trust your body, and don’t risk injuring yourself or the developing baby.
Fortunately, during most healthy pregnancies, you should be cleared to lift about 30 pounds, which is enough weight to clear many toddlers. Practice safe lifting such as bending your knees and keeping your back straight, wearing supportive shoes, planning in advance for long trips, and listening to your body.
Modifications to Avoid Lifting a Toddler During Pregnancy
If you’re the main caregiver for your toddler during the day, it can feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. How do you manage your role as a mom if you can’t pick your child up? If you’ve reached the point where lifting your toddler is uncomfortable or your doctor advises against lifting your child, these ideas may help you get through the day:
- If your toddler is developmentally ready, transition to a “big boy” or “big girl” bed. That is, get rid of crib bars that prevent your toddler from climbing in or out of bed themselves.
- Support your child on stairs without lifting. Most toddlers can crawl or climb up stairs. Have them hold your hand or a handrail for safety.
- Offer a “boost” into the car seat instead of lifting. Your toddler may only need a hand on their bottom to scramble into the car themselves.
- Sit on the floor or couch with your toddler for cuddles. It can be hard for toddlers to understand why you can’t pick them up anymore. Offer plenty of cuddle time where they can snuggle in your lap or read books next to you so they can get affection without being carried.
- Ask for help. Can’t manage grocery runs with a full cart and a toddler? Do you need another set of arms to get through bath time and bedtime? Enlist your partner to take on errands and childcare tasks that you can’t manage safely.