“Mommy, is there a baby in your belly?” Sweet words, right? I remember being pregnant with our second daughter, and my then-toddler daughter seemed to dote on me all day long. Oh, how I miss those days sometimes! She was so sweet (and still is), and it warmed my heart. It also marked a transition to come. As my pregnancy advanced, so did my limitations. Day by day, it seemed, there was less that I could do. I was more tired, naturally, caring for our daughter and making a baby. At first I tried my best not to show the strain that lifting my daughter caused me. The warnings of my doctor against carrying a toddler while pregnant niggled me.
Change was coming soon for her, and the last thing I wanted was to not be able to carry her. For two years we were literally joined at the hip! I carried her everywhere we went. I just couldn’t bear to put her down, not then or ever!
For most women, they’ll be able to carry their toddler during pregnancy by following a few, simple rules. Primarily, use good lifting techniques. I know, with a shifting center of gravity, it’s not easy. Do your best to lift with your knees and keep your back straight.
Sudden movements are always a no-no. Lifting up a twenty pound toddler isn’t easy. Going slow will help keep your balance. Remember those dizzy spells when you were pregnant? It’s another reason to take it slow. Getting up too fast can increase dizziness. Add a toddler to your arms when it’s happening amplifies the vertigo.
Toddlers are a bundle of energy. Keeping up with them is never easy. You’re exhausted. She’s not. You’re slowing down. She’s gaining speed. The key point is to minimize falls. Being tired is easy for poor lifting form to slip in. So slow down and it’s likely your little one will follow suit. At least most of the time!
Find the best position for carrying her. On the hip just under your baby bump is usually the most comfortable for both of you. And don’t forget to share the load on both sides during the day. Balance it out to keep your back in line as best as you can.
For most of us, lifting our toddlers isn’t too much of an issue until the fourth or fifth month of our pregnancies. Up until that time, the weight shift hasn’t been too much of an issue.
But by the third trimester our bodies are getting ready for labor. While still a few months away, our joints are loosening and our bodies are preparing for baby’s arrival. While you should never overdo anything when pregnant (I know, there’s so much to do!), this is the time to really take note of how your body is responding to any physical exertion. Don’t discount any pain you feel. Likewise, spotting is a sure sign of over-exertion. They aren’t always indicators that something is wrong. But they are signs that your body is saying, “Slow down.”
Talk to your OB if any of these issues arise. For active moms, slowing down is even harder. Develop a plan and stick to it so you and your toddler can remain active during your pregnancy.
Essential Baby Gear
My favorite piece of baby gear was our jogging stroller. Then, when I was pregnant with our second daughter, that stroller really made itself valuable. It was the perfect height to push my older daughter in. It kept my back straight. And it was very stable. With the height of the seat, it was easy to lift my daughter in and out of. Like any toddler, she was constantly hopping in and out during our walks.
Take a look around your house, too. What can you do to make lifting your toddler easier? I loved the stool by the bathroom sink. Having her climb the stool minimized how far I had to bend.
Keep your toddler’s toys at a level where she can access them. Except for the markers. Never again! But seriously, if your toddler can help herself to those things that she enjoys (with limitations) then I am all for it. She’ll need that extra touch of independence when you first bring your baby home.
Lastly, read some picture books together about pregnancy. She’ll learn in a kid-friendly way how your body is changing. She’ll also learn how to be a big sister. I’ve always been able to find the best answers with picture books.
Check your baby gear. Do they help or hinder? Sometimes it’s the simple things that make all the difference.
Don’t Let Me Go
Looking back, I think the greatest challenge of carrying my daughter when I was pregnant wasn’t the physical aspect of it. Instead, I was concerned with acknowledging her feelings. Would she understand when I wouldn’t be able to lift her? How would she feel? Would saying “no” instantly start a sibling rivalry with her yet-to-be-born sister? These are all good points to consider and you shouldn’t ignore them.
So, before I worried over physically lifting my daughter, I wanted to put her mind at ease. I let her know that mommy was making a baby and it was hard work. She followed along as best she could. You know the feeling, right? I asked her to help with little things like carrying a book for me. I let her know that soon it would be hard for me to carry her, but after her sister was born, she would be back on board.
If you’re feeling like I did, there are plenty of substitutes that give the same warmth as carrying your toddler. Hold hands when walking. Give her little fingers a gentle squeeze. Have her sit on your lap and read stories or play games. If she has a favorite toy, ask her to sit in your lap and play.
You’re still carrying her, and giving her the affection she adores.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, ages 8, 6, and 3. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Emily is a full-time mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer screen when the kids are occupied or sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her post about failing her way to blogging success.