Back pain is sadly a painful reality for many new mums. Having just gone through the physical challenges of pregnancy, labour and sometimes C-section, women have already been been challenged, both physically and emotionally before their little one even arrives.
Enter said little one, with their around the clock needs, heavy car seat and extra luggage to cart around. Add in a lack of sleep, no time to exercise. Is it any wonder that so many new mums suffer from back pain? However, with a little bit of self care and effort, you can minimise or even prevent back pain altogether by following these simple tips:
Use a sling that holds your baby centrally and symmetrically across your front. Look for one with padded shoulder straps and a hip belt which helps distribute the weight evenly. When you don’t have a sling, alternate your carrying side to avoid strain patterns developing. Take a break from carrying and let others take the load whenever they are around to help. As your little one gets bigger, encourage them to move themselves as much as possible.
Sit in a supportive chair and use pillows to help your posture. A small pillow behind your lower back will help maintain its natural curve, and a cushion under the arm supporting your baby’s head will prevent strain in your your arm and upper back. If you are breast feeding use pillows to position your baby in an optimal feeding position, rather than trying to move your breast towards your baby.
Use a nappy changing table or place the changing mat on top of a chest of drawers. Of course, you may need to adapt your set up when your baby shows signs of starting to roll! If you always change your baby’s nappy on the floor, your back will not thank you – or your knees for that matter!
Try to lift heavy items (eg car seat with baby in it) by bending and straightening your knees, rather than bending forwards from your back with straight legs. Even better, if you have a companion with you, delegate.
This is probably the most important tip, but may feel the most difficult to find time for. Walking, swimming, gentle pilates and postnatal yoga are all excellent forms of exercise for new mums. Movement is so important for a healthy back. Exercises which gently strengthen the abdominal and core muscles and mobilise the spine are ideal.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or accept help if it is offered. Many new mums feel they should be managing everything perfectly by themselves. This is an impossible feat and will probably end up affecting you physically and mentally.
If you have a cot that has adjustable height, use the highest level until your baby can pull themselves up. Some cots have a side that you can slide up and down which can be useful to prevent straining your back.
Get Professional Help
If back pain persists seek help from a trained therapist. He/she will assess the cause of your pain and either use gentle physical or muscular therapy techniques, eg, Remedial massage to relieve muscle pain and joint tension.