Anyone who has ever lugged a stage one baby car seat around will know that they’re not the easiest things to carry.
But, as well as potentially giving you back ache, the heavy seats could also cause or worsen pelvic organ prolapse in new mothers.
The Professional Network of Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy (POGP) told BBC new mums were vulnerable in the first few weeks after giving birth and should be lifting as little as possible and strengthening support muscles.
“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,” Amanda Savage, from POGP told the BBC.
According to the NHS, pelvic organ prolapse is when one or more of the organs in the pelvis slip down from their normal position and bulge into the vagina causing pain and discomfort.
It can be the womb (uterus), bowel, bladder or top of the vagina.
The chance of developing a pelvic organ prolapse is increased if you had a long, difficult birth, or if you gave birth to a large baby or multiple babies, but heavy lifting is also thought to increase your chances of suffering.
It is believed many women suffer a small prolapse postpartum without knowing or noticing any problems. Severity is classified on a scale of 1 to 4.
Pelvic organ prolapse can often be treated with pelvic floor exercises and lifestyle changes, but more severe cases can need surgery.
“Lifting car seats as a new mother is a serious health risk,” says Tim Allardyce, Physiotherapist and Osteopath at www.surreyphysio.co.uk.
Tim says the clinic are seeing increasing numbers of new mums presenting with back pain and other related problems such as pelvic organ prolapse as a result of lifting car seats into cars.
“Body parts that are most vulnerable are the discs in the lower back, the pelvic organs, and the sacro-iliac joint (a joint where your spine meets your pelvis),” he says.
“New mums often do not have the core strength to support such weight, especially after a c-section,” he continues. “In addition, depending on the stresses during pregnancy, there may be damage to the pelvic floor muscles and sphincters that require time to heal, and in these cases mum’s should take extra precaution when lifting.”
According to Tim, any kind of prolapse, whether it be pelvic organ, or disc prolapse, is caused by excessive pressure going through the pelvis and spine, often as we strain to support lifting the car seat.
“If you suspect you may have this, you need to see you GP for onward referral back to the obstetrics team,” he adds.
Why is car seat carrying particularly bad for new mothers?
“Car seats and both heavy, and awkward, especially when there is a baby in them. Even with iso-fix making clicking the car seat in easier, mums still need to bend and twist to get the seat in and out of a car,” Tim explains.
Instead he recommends all mums leave car seats in the car and carry their babies out.
“This will significantly reduce the pressure through the back, pelvis, and sacro-iliac joint,” he says.
If you do need to lift your car seat with your baby in, Tim recommends making sure you squat down and support the car seat with both hands keeping it as close to your body as you can.
“Use your legs to push up and “hug” the car seat. By keeping it close to your body, you reduce the effect of gravity pulling it down – another issue when holding the car seat by the handle,” he says.
“Remember, give your body time to recover following birth, and avoid heavy lifting until you have regained core and pelvic floor strength,” he adds.
In other car seat news, a recent survey revealed a large number of parents are confused by the UK’s car seat laws.
The biggest confusion concerns the maximum age a child must be before they no longer require a seat with 15% of adults struggling to comprehend the rules.
That followed the revelation that the majority of parents don’t now about a crucial car seat feature, which is needed to ensure your little one’s seat is safely secured.
Research from Safe Kids Worldwide, a non-profit organisation working to prevent childhood injury, shows that more than half of forward-facing car seats are not used properly because of one misunderstood but vital step in installation: attaching the top tether.
In a study of parents who came to car seat check-up events between October 2015 and December 2016, 64% of forward-facing car seats with harnesses were not attached using the tether.