We investigated the effects on women of carrying an infant in front, focusing on the pelvic and spinal posture and the displacement of the body's center of gravity. For such, we compared mothers to non-mothers not carrying anything or carrying the same load (a doll) and the mothers carrying their infants. Twenty mothers and 44 women who did not have children were analyzed for their movement and posture during walking and standing still with a motion capture system. Walking while carrying a load was slower and with a shorter stride length than while not carrying a load. The mothers' group walked slower and with a shorter stride length than the non-mothers' group. During walking and standing still, the women decreased their angle of pelvic anteversion, increased lumbar lordosis, increased thoracic kyphosis, and increased trunk backward inclination while carrying a load in comparison with not carrying anything. In addition, we observed some small differences in the spinal angles of mothers when carrying their infants compared to when carrying a doll. When standing still, the women carrying a load displaced backwards their vertical projection of the center of gravity to exactly compensate the destabilizing load at the front that resulted in no net change of the body-plus-load center of gravity. In general, these changes are qualitatively similar to the ones observed during pregnancy.
Keywords: Bipedalism; Gait; Infant carrying; Posture; Spine.
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