Carrying car seats put new mums at risk of injury

New mothers are being cautioned that both carrying and lifting car seats for babies could be putting their recovering bodies under excessive stress.

In the wake of giving birth, women need time for postnatal recovery. According to physiotherapists, the bulk and weight of hefty items such as baby seats can put new mothers’ bodies in danger, and be the cause of prolapses of pelvic organs such as the uterus, bowel and bladder.

Chartered physiotherapist and specialist in postnatal fitness Laura Cullen advised that for the first two months after birth, baby seats should not be removed from inside vehicles.

Prolapse in pelvic organs and how it can be prevented

The seats themselves are not well crafted for carrying, according to the Professional Network of Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy (POGP).

Amanda Savage, spokesperson for POGP, explained in more detail why the car seats were not designed with the carrying of babies in mind:

You're carrying a heavy weight off to one side far away from your body often with your hand turned backwards or forwards and that's not a comfortable or ergonomic way to carry something.

In her professional opinion, women are extremely vulnerable in the initial few weeks following giving birth and should be lifting as little as possible - and focussing instead on strengthening their supportive muscles.

Preventative solutions for car seat safety suggested by POGP include utilising your car’s Isofix fitting where available to reduce twisting. These fittings are located in the joint between the seat back and cushion. Placing the seat on a lightweight framework benefiting from wheels is a better choice than carrying.

Safety regulations put limits on design

Manufacturers, when questioned on the risk their seats pose to new mums, suggested that they are hampered by regulations when it comes to designing their products. These regulations also affect the weight at which the manufacturers can supply a seat. While carbon fibre could be an option in the future, it’s an expensive material and would raise the price of such products for parents.

Designed for safety first, these products sometimes suffer in terms of their portability. However, there are additional products available on the market which can assist and help women to avoid unnecessary strain. For example, car seat carrier straps allow mothers to take the weight on their shoulders instead of their pelvis, while easy grip handles that attach to baby seats are also available and can eliminate some of the awkwardness of manoeuvring these sometimes bulky items.