Getting out of the house and being able to do things can be so important after having a baby, even though some days it feels like it might be almost mission impossible.
Being stuck at home all day with a baby sucks, and if you’ve had a rough birth, if you’re really tired and sore, things can be even tougher. Because the longer you’re alone, the louder the crying and fussing may seem and the more you start to doubt yourself as a parent. Most parents handle maternity and parent leave alone, and the more you are alone, the more isolated you feel, the bigger and harder things will seem. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a real concern, with 1 out of every 6 women and 1 out of every 10 men suffering from it in Canada. Any little thing we can do to make this period easier helps.1
Researchers at the University of Birmingham examined data from 13 studies and determined that exercise is often a great low impact way to prevent or reduce these feelings of depression. I love this quote from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK:
“We often talk about the mind and body as though they are completely separate – but they aren’t. The mind can’t function unless your body is working properly – but it also works the other way. The state of your mind affects your body.”2
The reason I love cycling so much is because it can be adapted to any lifestyle, and you don’t need to be really good at it either, you can move faster than walking and go further distances with little trouble.
I think cycling is a great way to get out of the house with a baby and young kids because it can be used just like walking – as you need it
Families that do things together, including exercise are happier. It is too easy to feel trapped by your obligations and the never ending list of things that absolutely need to be done. With a bike, taking the trip down to the local store can be an easy solution and much faster than loading up the car. By breaking up the chores into smaller ones especially outside of the winter season can make life so much better.5 Not only are you living by example, but everyone gets a nice little boost from doing it as well.
And we have such a fantastic network of biking trails through our city parks, alongside river paths and more. The Canada Trails website has a fantastic map and a resource list for each province. Pack a picnic basket, and just go. There’s nothing more lovely.
This is the third article in our cycling series. The first article called Cycling and babywearing – yes or no? In it, we discuss whether to babywearg on a bike and also includes extensive information on laws in Canada. The second article, called But what about Europe – babywearing and cycling abroad, acknowledges that other cultures do wear while cycling and also includes extensive quotes from my European babywearing colleagues.
2. Researchers from the University of Birmingham examined data from 13 trials including 1,734 women. Their study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, concludes that exercise – either in group sessions, individually or when added to other interventions – is effective in reducing postpartum depressive symptoms. More information can be found in this article published in the Telegraph August 29, 2017. The authors wrote: “UK clinical guidance recommends psychological therapy and antidepressants for postnatal depression. However, women can be reluctant to take antidepressants postnatally and the availability of psychological therapies is often limited.
“Given the high prevalence of postpartum depression and the potential for exercise to be a low-cost, freely available intervention, aerobic exercise should be considered as a management option for postpartum women with depressive symptoms and as a potential preventative measure more generally in postpartum women.”
5. This article from the Royal College of psychiatrists in Britain talks about the benefits of exercise for those who suffer from depression.
Article on family exercise with CNN.
With only a small handful of days to vote, Canadians were enthusiastic. Congratulations Moncton Babywearing Group, you won the Best Babywearing Group in Canada for 2018. I recommend reading the rest of the nominations, we have some great groups run by some fabulous volunteers.
Moncton Babywearing Group
Windsor Babywearing group
Ottawa Babywearing Group – Under Wraps
Take the time to read all our nominations. They show a level of thankfulness for those who work hard to help parents online. There weren’t as many nominations for this category, making me wonder if as Canadians we focus less on our nationality and more on what we can do to help parents. I appreciate anyone who works hard to help parents in our communities.
Close to the heart
Our small and medium-size stores build community in Canada, and are usually the first point of contact for many looking to purchase or to get help with a baby carrier. This was evident because this category received the second highest number of nominations. Canadians are passionately grateful to the stores who help them in their babywearing journey. Please, read the entries below. TO all the store owners, thank you for all you do.
Hugs and Cuddles
Snips and snails
Carry me mommy
Educators who also work really hard to support parents in their communities. Thank you for all the work you do.
Little Hands and Me Parenting Network
Porter la Vie
Raising a Little
Babywearing comes down to two basic things – first is keeping a child secure in the carrier, with airway safety being the very first consideration, second is preventing falls.
But it’s not always the baby we’re trying to keep from falling. Which means that baby carrying is also about controlling the adult to keep the baby safe. Which means the adult has to mind their speed, stability, all while managing obstacles while carrying.
When cycling, the most important thing to mind is protecting the baby in case of a fall. Helmets contribute greatly to injury prevention while cycling. Below is information from a website maintained by Chris Gilham, an Australian journalist. Currently, most provinces and territories require helmets be worn.1
I also spoke to Kendra Runions, a feeding support consultant in Eastern Ontario2. She worked for 2 years selling specialty safety equipment for power sports applications and some of the families she helped had riders were as young as two years old.
When I asked Kendra about helmet wearing, this is what she said:
“I could easily write a novel on just helmet wearing. Is it a correctly fitted helmet? Is it optimal materials to withstand the most
likely crash scenario?
All of these factors should be in play when choosing a helmet from tricycles to tobaggans and dirt bikes.”
Do you feel adults can gauge whether a helmet is properly fitted and safe for their child?
“No. Honestly a lot of adults don’t know even how to fit a helmet for themselves. An incorrectly balanced and fitted helmet can cause a more severe injury than would have been originally sustained even in a relatively minor accident. I’m talking tip over and fall accident. All of these factors should be in play when choosing a helmet for everything from tricycles to toboggans to dirt bikes.”
What happens to the body dynamic forces when a baby is worn on the body?
“First off your center of gravity is shifted. I’ve consistently warned adults of having other adult passengers because there is some input required for manoeuvering and if your passenger does the wrong thing it can definitely throw you off enough to cause an accident. Now just think of how unpredictable kids are, along with having their leverage points reduced when wrapped or carried and just basically being too short for their legs to reach anything.
Velocity, distance, gravity, pretty much every force could potentially be encountered based on what type of accident could occur. The possibilities are literally endless.”
What about if the baby is worn on the back?
A back worn child is actually what I picture by default. Everything I have mentioned is at play. This is where I want to note that in the event of most accidents, especially low speed, think under 5 km/hr, your back passenger will end up off the vehicle before you. There are many scenarios in which the driver will remain with the vehicle but the passenger will not. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. In order to absorb impact and mitigate potential damage to the human body its better on us to take space to stop v.s. one fast and sudden stop. Everyone has heard “tuck and roll”. A back worn child cannot break free from the adult to do this. Any adult with a child strapped to them is no longer the correct shape for their own body to make the adjustments it
needs to maximize their own injury protection. The adult will most likely be fighting base protective instincts in order to try and shield the child.
Can you always protect your baby in case of an accident? NO.
Think about the difference if you fall while walking, versus if you fall while biking. Now add a baby in the mix on a parent’s back or even in the front. It changes the centre of gravity, which with experience you can accommodate for, but it also adds a weight. If a back pack can go flying off your body when you get into an accident while cycling, or you crush it with your body, think about replacing that very same backpack with the weight of a child.
Additional to the information from my interview with Kendra, here is an excerpt from iBike, an American organization centred around cycling information and safety about cycling while babywearing:
“The conservative approach is that taking an infant on a bike in a backpack has risks and is potentially dangerous — and it is illegal in some jurisdictions. Some of the issues are: The center of gravity is higher; if you wear helmets, your helmets may banged together; the child is quite vulnerable in a fall because the distance is higher and there is a greater chance of the infant ending up underneath the adult in a tumble; and the backpack provides less protection than a child seat or trailer. Slings would present similar issues, though in is a sling the child is lower down and their head is better supported, so it unlikely for the adult and child to bang heads — it is also unlikely that the child would be wearing a helmet.” 3
Should you cycle with your babes? Absolutely YES!
There are many great ways to cycle with your kids. You can use a trailer until they are old enough to sit unsupported, at which point you can move to a bike seat, as Lauren has with her child here. Lauren lives in Ontario.
Trailers can be be found for affordable prices on second hand boards, and now is the time to start looking. Often, you can buy a trailer or bike seat and then use the money from the resell to by your children their first bike.
Thank you to Kendra from FullCircleFeeding.com for providing us with her expertise for this article. Please read our other cycling articles Babywearing and cycling abroad and the Benefits of cycling for families. .
1. This website tracks all bicycle helmet laws from countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. You can check it out here. For more about bike helmet legislation in Canada, visit the Canadian Pediatric Society here.↩
2. Kendra is the owner of Full Circle Feeding, a business that helps families with breastfeeding, chest feeding, and just feeding their babies. They specialize in working with traditional and non-traditional families. From her website, “Non traditional family unit? Grandparent feeling out of touch? Nervous new father feeling left out?” Visit their website for more information.↩
3. To read more about what iBike has to say about early helmet wearing and babywearing while cycling, visit this page here.