For 40 weeks you will do everything right; take great care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, exercising and preparing your home and mind for the arrival of your new baby. But if you’re like most of us, once the baby is born your focus will move away from your own needs and onto that new bundle of joy.
It’s important for expecting moms to know that hormonal changes in pregnancy can loosen the joints and ligaments of your pelvis and spine. In the 6-8 weeks it takes to recover from these changes you may feel like you’re in a weight training program. You will constantly tote around a baby that weighs 7 lbs. or more PLUS gear like diaper bags, baby carriers, groceries and possibly another child, all of which can easily lead to serious neck and back aches.
Just as in the workplace, good ergonomics at home can help keep you from developing pains and strains that can make it difficult to be the mom you want to be.
Here are some things to be aware of:
Feeding your baby – by breast or bottle – can be a lengthy process.
- Ease tension on your neck and upper back muscles by not leaning too far forward. If breast feeding, pull the baby to your breast instead of bending yourself forward.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your back against the cushion.
- Place your legs flat on the floor or on a stool instead of crossed to avoid twisting through your low back and pelvis.
- Place a pillow underneath baby to take some of the weight and strain off of your arms.
image from bestpregnancypillow.org
Lifting & Carrying
The constant hunching over to pick up your child, feed, bathe and play will strain an already tired back.
- Instead of stretching your arms out to pick up your baby, bring the child close to your chest before lifting. Avoid twisting your body.
- Use a baby changing station that is a tall enough to avoid bending forward too much.
- When lifting a child from the floor, bend at your knees and not your waist. Squat down, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your leg muscles.
- When carrying a baby on your hip, its weight can overload back muscles and cause you to shift your normal stance to compensate for the extra weight of the child. Try changing the side you carry the baby on often to reduce pain. Using a baby sling or wrap can keep baby close while limiting the strain on your arms, back and neck.
Moby wrap for carrying baby
- Infant car seats alone can weight 10 lbs. Add your infant to that seat, and you’re easily hauling around and extra 17 pounds. When transporting baby from your car, take advantage of strollers that the carrier can be clicked into instead of trying to manage the weight on your own.
snap-n-go carries the infant car seat for you!
Fatigue, lack of exercise, extra “baby” weight and poor nutrition contribute to postpartum back pain.
Moving, stretching and gradually returning to an exercise program is what your body needs to restore abdominal and back muscle tone. Losing the “baby weight” will also help reduce stress on your back. Walking, swimming and yoga are all great ways to start. Here in San Diego, new moms can find supportive “mommy & me” exercise programs where you bring your baby with you.
Get some natural relief from postpartum pain by taking a warm bath with epsom salts, using a heating pad on your affected area, rubbing a topical cream like tiger balm or capsaicin onto sore muscles.
Body massage is a great way to help relieve the tension in your back muscles and to alleviate postpartum lower back pain. These massages can help to stimulate circulation which will aid in repairing damaged muscle tissue. It also gives you the chance to really relax and recover from the challenges of motherhood.
Regular chiropractic care has been shown to be affective in preventing and treating musculoskeletal pain (such as back and neck pain) during and following pregnancy. Ensuring proper alignment of the spine and joints during the postpartum period can help prevent injury and future problems such as sacroiliitis, an inflammatory condition of the joints of the pelvis that often results following pregnancy in women when the pelvis re-sets out of proper alignment.
Completing a formalized postpartum rehabilitation program can help prevent back pain, neck pain, and other injuries in the future, so you can be the healthiest mom you can be for years to come. Learn how to properly lift and carry your baby, how to put the baby into the crib, and how to place a child in a car seat. A qualified healthcare practitioner can teach you exercises to do on your own that will help prevent later episodes of back pain.
As you care for your new baby, dedicating time to sit down and make a plan to support your body through pregnancy and heal your body naturally through postpartum chiropractic care and a postpartum rehabilitation program is an essential investment in your ability to be the healthiest mom you can be for years to come.
Local Resources for Postpartum Care
Scripps Mommy & Me Yoga – Call instructor Lauren Donovan – 858-755-7500 for dates and times.
Fit4Mom & Stroller Strides – stroller-based fitness program designed for moms with little ones. Each 60-minute, total body workout incorporates power walking, strength, toning, songs and activities.
Hapa Yoga – offers prenatal yoga, mommy & me yoga and child care for those who want a baby-free practice
YMCA – offering stroller jam classes as well as “mommy & me move and groove” at select locations
Aryn’s Family Yoga – offers prenatal and postpartum “mommy & me” yoga