5 Tips for Lifting Toddlers in Late Pregnancy and Early Postpartum
This was a fantastic question that I got a few weeks ago. What are the best strategies for lifting toddlers during late pregnancy, core and pelvic floor wise. How do we lift heavy kids while protecting the core and pelvic floor during such a vulnerable phase?
Of course, I have many thoughts about this and PLENTY of strategies which all may depend on the person, their stage of pregnancy, how heavy their toddler is, the demands of said toddler (are they a “hold me all the time” kid or a “every once in a while” kid?) and their lifestyle (Is there also an older sibling who also may want to be picked up? What exercise are they currently doing and what feels good for their body? Are they experiencing any symptoms?)
My first thought, however, was that this is a question that also extends into the early postpartum period FOR SURE. Both are times in which the core and pelvic floor are under a lot of pressure normally or are healing from pregnancy and birth. Both are also times where we’re still mom and have to do all the things moms normally do, often our partners just won’t cut it. They want us. Period.
So in this article I’m going to share with you my 5 favorite strategies for lifting toddlers in late pregnancy and early postpartum, from breathing to standing there’s an option for you that will help you lift with less worry.
Exhale on Exertion
Exhale on exertion is a breathing strategy that involves exhaling AS you begin to lift whatever it is you’re lifting, ideally with a gentle pelvic floor lift. This strategy is good for later in pregnancy (in the second and third trimester) and earlier postpartum if you’ve already begun to dial in on your core and pelvic floor connection and rehab. If you feel any bulging in the vagina, bearing down, or leaking, try the next strategy instead.
Exhale THROUGH Exertion
Exhale through exertion is a breathing strategy that involves exhaling before you begin to lift (so exhale a second before lift) and maintaining that exhale throughout the exertion phase. This gives you more support in the full range of motion and is great for super late in pregnancy and super early postpartum when the core and pelvic floor may not feel very connected to each other. This can also help manage bulging or bearing down by giving the pelvic floor time to pre-cue the PF lift and the brain to connect to that cue before you lift.
Click below to learn more about exhale ON exertion vs exhale THROUGH exertion
The sumo lift is a great strategy for picking up toddlers in late pregnancy because it gives you a wide base of support and takes pressure off of the pelvic floor by giving your belly plenty of space. During the sumo lift, you’ll have your feet wider than your hips with your toes tracking out as little or as much as is comfortable for you. Your hips will track back towards the wall behind you as you bend to pick up the little person. A HUGE bonus for this is that assuming a sumo-stance can put you more level with your kiddo, so you don’t have to lift as far.
The kickstand lift involves primarily planting one foot. The other foot is behind you with light pressure on it, kind of like.. well, a kickstand. Believe it or not, the kickstand stance can be SUPER helpful if you’re experiencing pelvic or SI joint pain. You can play with using each foot to see what feels best for you, but I often find that using the “stronger” side- i.e. the side that has less pain- as the front foot can help reduce pain during lifting.
Squat to Lift
Ahhh, the squat to lift. Literally everything online tells you to use your legs to lift rather than your back (newsflash- it is literally impossible to not use your back when lifting- those muscles play a huge part in supporting lifts) so the squat to lift uses your legs to an advantage. You’re literally squatting down to grab your kiddo, then rising to lift them. This is a great strategy to use if you are experiencing pain or symptoms- like leaking or pressure or bulging- during more traditional lifts such as the ones above. This can also be helpful if your kid is pretty cooperative and can position themselves in a position that actually makes it less work for you to pick them up. Though this is easier said than done, in many cases.
Click the video below to watch demos on each of these lifting strategies!
So, is there a definite WRONG way to pick up your toddler during pregnancy and postpartum? Well, that depends. I’m going to go with no, unless you’re personally experiencing pain during lifting or you’re leaking, you feel bulging or pressure in the vagina, or if your doctor has strictly forbid you to lift them for health reasons. The first two issues could be solved by using one or a few of the strategies listed above for sure. That’s why I’m here!
Lifting kids is just a part of life, something we can’t really avoid. I talk to so many moms who have been instructed to “never lift” during late pregnancy, early postpartum, while healing diastasis recti, if they have pelvic organ prolapse, and the list really goes on. This just isn’t advice that is remotely helpful or that helps moms feel anything but broken.