After Victoria was born, I became determined to do a pull-up. It’s my goal for this year. Of course, one does not just walk up to the monkey bars and do a pull-up. One has to work up to such a goal.
So step one was to improve my upper body strength. And how does one do this?
I do it by holding my baby.
For years, since having my first child 15 years ago, I relied on a variety of baby slings. I wrote lots about babywearing. I still love the idea of it.
However, when one has a newborn baby, one should be able to hold that baby. And presumably, one’s upper body would grow stronger so that one could continue holding said baby as it got bigger.
Using a sling caused pain and tightness in the shoulder it sat on. And using a front pack carrier can worsen a diastasis (separation of the abdominal muscles). I knew I had a slight separation after this baby, but that it would go away if I did the right things (which incidentally does NOT include crunches).
One of the right things? Walking.
So, on my daily walk I just held the baby. In my arms.
At first, even though she was a little 8+ pound newborn, I couldn’t hold her for the entire walk. I would have to pass her off to another person to get a break.
But after a few weeks, I could hold her for the entire mile. (I also made my toddler walk, from the time she was around 18 months old.)
And now, even though she is 10 months old and much heavier, I can still hold her for the entire walk without fatiguing.
The stroller I had was a cheap umbrella stroller. Because I preferred babywearing (less gear to worry with stuffing in the car, ease of discreet breastfeeding, and baby preferred it), I never invested in a nice stroller. We had the cheap one, “just in case” we needed it.
But here’s why my umbrella stroller ended up in the trash.
She’s slumped forward, her head way too far in front of her spine and shoulders. Her pelvis is tucked under and her back is shaped like a “C”. Instead of like an “L”.
This isn’t healthy for her or for anyone. It’s a bad habit to sit like this, especially when one is still growing and developing.
Of course, all strollers don’t do this. Some of the nicer ones may not have this effect. But mine did.
(The only time she’s been in this stroller is to snap this pic.)
This is how she looks normally when she sits.
Notice how her back is super straight, and her head is backed up directly on top of her shoulders.
Her butt is sticking OUT and her pelvis isn’t tucked.
So when we walk or go anywhere, I hold her.
And I don’t get worn out. When one arm gets tired, I switch to the other arm.
And I’m sporting some pretty nice arm and shoulder muscles too. 🙂 And no shoulder pain from the sling digging into me. I very rarely use my sling anymore, usually only when I am out and about and need both hands free (rigorous thrift store shopping comes to mind!).
Inspiration for this post came from Katy Bowman’s blog. See: Pain Free Baby Holding; Naturally Strong Baby; and also while you’re there, read every other blog post she’s ever written. But only if you want to be stronger, healthier, and slimmer. Without “exercise”. 😉
P.S. How else am I working on my upper body strength?
I do planks everyday. Lately I’ve been scrubbing my floors and walls a lot, and that makes my arms, shoulders and even ABS sore the next day.
And I do lots of this (hanging and swinging):
Actually, that’s my 3 year old.
But she’s no good with the camera so I’m showing a pic of her instead.