Don’t let back pain turn parenthood into a parent-trap!
One of the most likely times women will get back pain is during pregnancy. However when your little one has arrived, it’s common for both women and men to experience back pain, due to a variety of repetitive activities, such as picking up and carrying your baby. Let’s be honest, these are the times when you absolutely don’t want to be experiencing back or neck pain!
There’s no getting away from it – caring for a baby puts stress on your back. Initially, you may be lifting your 6-10 lb little one up to 50 times a day. Now that’s some workout! By the time your child is a year old, you will be lifting and carrying around 17 pounds. When they reach their ‘terrible twos’, your toddler will be around 20-30 lbs! Slack muscles, bad posture and repeating incorrect movements can wreck havoc on your musculoskeletal health!
Here are some ways that new mums (and dads!) can help reduce their risk of injury and back pain:
Safe lifting – the basics: Stand with your feet at least a foot apart, this will give you a stable base of support. Keep your back as straight as possible and bend your knees. Try not to stretch your arms out straight to pick up your baby. Bring the baby close to your chest before lifting.
Lift using both arms and your thigh muscles (which are amongst the largest and strongest muscles in the body). To pick up your baby from the floor, bend at your knees not at your waist. Squat down, engage your stomach muscles to help stabilise your core (and therefore your back) and lift with your legs. When carrying and moving your kid, pivot with your feet until you are facing your destination then lower your child into the crib or onto the floor by bending at the knees, with a straight back.
Carrying your little one: Hold your child in an upright position, directly against your chest. Carrying your infant on one hip creates postural imbalances that can lead to low back pain over time. Consider using a “front pack” to carry the baby when you’re walking.
Exercise post-birth (one for the mums): With the go ahead from your midwife or doctor, try to begin exercising again soon after delivery, in order to help restore muscle tone to the abdominal and back muscles. While your baby is napping, take 10 minutes to do stretching exercises on the floor each day. This will help restore hip and back flexibility. Try to return to your normal weight within six weeks after giving birth. If you’ve had a Caesarean-section (C-section) delivery, wait six weeks or until you get the permission of your obstetrician before you begin exercising.
Breast/bottle feeding: To avoid upper back pain from breastfeeding, bring your baby to your breast or bottle, rather than bending over the baby. While you are nursing, sit in an upright chair rather than a soft, unsupportive chair or sofa.