Carrying your baby in a sling or in arms can often lead to
painful shoulders. Often a change of position of the baby can help, or making
sure your sling is adjusted correctly. But really it could be down to your
alignment and postural habits.
If you don’t adjust your alignment then you could always have problems with your shoulders and it could lead to injury or cause you to struggle to lift and carry your baby.
Our bodies mold to the position we are in most. And in our society a lot of that is with the shoulders and elbows in 900 angles and often with the shoulder joint in a slightly rotated in position (so it may look like your elbow pits are pointing slightly inwards and downwards.
Fascia and muscles mean all parts of our bodies are connected so if you have arms that are not quite aligned and shoulders that have a tendency to sit up near your ears you are going to be putting more strain on your shoulders and upper back muscles than you need to, leading to achey, sore shoulders.
Often to combat this we lift up our chests to try and help improve our posture but this only ends up putting our upper body out of alignment, restricts breathing and puts pressure on abdominal muscles, pelvic floor muscles and causes strain to the lower back.
No amount of changing positions, carries or slings will solve this problem you will need to address your tight shoulders.
With in arms carrying because we hold our arms in this angle for so much of the time we tend to overuse our shoulders and underuse our arms, this means that our arm muscles cannot manage to hold the weight of our baby or child easily so the shoulders and upper back take the brunt of the weight, even if we have a child that clings on as well.
I have a 3 year old who much prefers to be carried in arms and have been working on undoing an incredibly overworked and painful left shoulder. Discovering that it is very internally rotated and was causing pain across my chest, rotator cuff and even armpit was so helpful, adjusting this was a matter of releasing tension in some muscles, lengthening others and then lots of strength building.
Also, interestingly increasing pelvic mobility helped here (read this blog post to learn more about the link between the shoulders and the pelvis)
If you are experiencing pain while carrying your baby don’t settle just for changing positions and carriers make sure you get someone to assess your alignment and help with adjustments there too.
Follow this link to some shoulder exercises and information on carrying without straining your shoulders.
Rosie is an alignment and movement teacher with a special interest in pregnancy and postpartum. She trained with carious schools as a babywearing consultant and loves to help women carry more comfortably.