When I was pregnant with Moppet I knew I wanted to baby wear. New mommy hood is just so overwhelming- I didn’t know where to start. Without an actual baby to try on I was really lost. And all of the terminology had my head spinning. It didn’t help that there just doesn’t seem to be all that many resources out there for plus-sized momma’s to figure out what works for them- I spent hours trolling through forums looking for answer. All of the models wearing slings, wraps, ergo’s and the like are a size 6 or under. I am not.
In fact, after having baby I was more like a 20 in pants (I just didn’t wear any of my pants till I fit my 18’s, just resorted to wearing my maternity clothes. The easy up down of the elastic was nice after having a baby anyway). In the top? I’m not even sure. It would have been too depressing to measure. Bigger. I have wide shoulders and big boobs, and after baby, a big tummy.
Before baby I decided to put a Maya ring sling on my baby registry- size xl. That seemed like I could comfortably fit it. And my husband found a baby Bjorn for 20 at a resale. So that’s where I started my baby wearing career.
Over the last year I’ve lost some weight. In fact, it took about a year, but I’ve lost all of the baby weight. But I’m still a plus sized momma. And I still baby wear. Just about every day. In the last year I’ve learned a lot- about what works and what doesn’t. So I’m going to share a few things with you in the hopes that they help you in your journey.
First off, the Maya Wrap (a ring sling).
Since this is more or less a long piece of fabric with a metal ring at the end you can get it in multiple lengths. For the plus sized momma get a large or extra large to make sure you have enough fabric to go around. Mine has lots of extra tail, but I would rather have that then not be able to wear it. Get the padding in the shoulder as well. I’ve found this to cushion the weight nicely.
Now that Moppet is 13 months and 20 pounds the Maya is more or less in retirement. I use it for small trips still, but she is heavy enough that I don’t like all her weight on one shoulder for too long.
This is a great choice for a plus sized momma and a new baby. You can do a tummy to tummy carry (legs in for a little one), or a hip carry for a bigger baby. A back carry is a possibility, but only for an over one baby. If you want a back carry I’d go with a wrap or ergo (see below).
I bought a used Ergo, old style, off of E-Bay. I got it around 5 months post pregnancy, and the waist just fit. If I didn’t mind feeling like I was being cut in half. In order to use this carrier (a soft structured carrier, or ssc) I would need the waist extender belt. I got one off of Amazon for 8$. Even though I don’t need it anymore I still use it. The buckle broke on the original Ergo, so I have to use the extra belt for the buckle end. The new Ergo’s are not compatible with a waist belt, but are supposed to have extra inches in the belt so that you shouldn’t need it. But some momma’s still do. My suggestion? Measure your waist. If you have any doubt that the Ergo will fit, skip it for now. I think the new ones go to 45″ and 50″ depending on style. Check with the manufacturer on the sizing before buying though.
While I love this carrier because it is fast to put on, supports my daughter well, especially during naps, and my husband and I both can wear it (he has a long slim frame), it has drawbacks. You can front carry, hip carry, or back carry. But when I back carry in the Ergo it tends to cut me in half, leaving weird bulges. This is not desirable. And I’m really not sure this carrier was made for bigger people- the straps tend to cut in under my armpits for one thing. But despite all this, I have gotten many many hours of use out of my Ergo.
A picture of Moppet in the Ergo, 7 months postpartum. My husband says if you didn’t know there was a baby in there you would just think I had a crazy big stomach. Thanks honey.
My wrap has become one of my favorite carriers. See my post https://relaxmomma.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/why-oh-why-was-i-so-scared/. I am still getting the hang of wrapping, but I would highly suggest it to any momma, especially a bigger one. They make wraps in all lengths, I got mine in the longest option so I would have more length to go around myself, because many carries require several passes over your body. Do not be scared of these. You do not need a ssc to keep your baby safe and secure, you really don’t. Before trying a wrap I was very skeptical. Before baby came I thought these wraps were for experts only and I wouldn’t be able to do it. I now highly recommend them. Especially to a bigger momma.
A wrap is just a very long rectangle of fabric. This means that you don’t have to worry about the fit, or adjusting the straps, or extra waist bands. It keeps baby secure, spreads the weight out well, and packs tightly into a diaper bag.
For a brand new mommy and baby wearer you may want to try a stretchy wrap like the Moby or Boba. These are just like a woven wrap, but they have spandex stuff in them so they stretch out. This means you can put one on, then put baby in. BUT it means that a heavier baby sill sag, and that you CAN NOT do a back carry in one. You will eventually want to buy a woven wrap.
A woven wrap costs a bit more, but will last from your newborn through toddler hood. Or until they no longer want to be carried. So if you are a bit braver, go ahead and try the woven wraps. These are just like the Moby’s and Boba’s, only not stretchy, so you can do well over a dozen different carries, including hip and back carries. And since you can choose from dozens of different back carries alone, you can choose where to put the fabric in front- so no weird lumps.
Here is a picture of Moppet asleep in her wrap. 13 months postpartum.
Make Your Own.
I have a mai tie that I made myself. If you can sew at all, on the machine, you’ll want a machine for this, you can probably make one. It really is very simple to make, just make sure to reinforce the straps extremely well. Since you’re making it yourself, you can make the straps as long as you want, and measure for your own personal preference. This way you know it will fit.
Here’s a linkto some patterns http://www.sleepingbaby.net/jan/Baby/index.html: I used one of these to make my own. I had to use a lot more fabric than suggested for the straps, and measured them before cutting. It cost a little under 12$. Here’s the best shot I could get of baby in her mai tie 11 months postpartum.
Do yourself a favor and just skip it. I could just barely make this fit- the x thing in back wanted to sit on my neck. It felt like I was squishing baby. And all of baby’s weight rested on my shoulders. This thing was so uncomfortable. It is supposed to work up to 20 pounds. That must be a joke. I think my kid was around 12 pounds when she started looking squished on the sides in this thing. And it was uncomfortable even at that weight. Pass on this baby carrier and spend your money on something else.
If you are a plus sized momma and looking to baby wear- kudos. I hope this post helps you decide on a carrier, and what will work for you. Whatever you choose stick with it and persevere. Not all babies like to be carried right off the bat. And if you are nervous putting your baby in a carrier, I know I always am with a new style of carrier, they will pick up on that and get fussy themselves. If things don’t work the first time, try again later. Baby wearing is a great resistance workout and can help you get back into shape after pregnancy.