You finally got to the finish line! You had that baby, you’re no longer pregnant. NOW you can get back to doing all that you love to do…..kind of. Life sure looks different after having a kid (or 2 or 3 or more?!?!). It’s important, now more than ever, to make sure to take care of you. This means something different for everyone. For some women that means taking time to hang with just adult friends. For some women it means having quiet time (with no screaming children in the background) to nap or read a book. For all women, a part of this “taking care of you” needs to be taking care of your body. That, of course, includes exercise in whatever shape and form works for you now. But it also means minimizing stresses to your body so you can keep doing what you love to do.
It’s not uncommon for postpartum women to have pain that has nothing to do with having been pregnant or delivering a baby. Many mamas are nursing. All of you are holding a little (or not so little) squishy bundle for hours each day. A day in the life of a new mom includes all kinds of awkward activities such as: picking up heavy car seats, putting struggling toddlers into car seats, lifting babies in and out of cribs and falling asleep in a rocking chair or an awkward position. All of these things can build up and end up causing you pain. So what can you do about it?
Let’s talk about some simple things you can do to make your postpartum life easier and less painful.
Nursing and bottle feeding
Feeding your baby can be a sweet, but sometimes a stressful time. Is the baby latching correctly with breast feeding? Is she eating enough? Does she have reflux? Am I feeding her too often/not often enough? There is so much to think about during this time, often it’s hard to relax enough to enjoy it. Unfortunately, this is also a time when mamas may be positioning themselves in ways that lead to our bodies breaking down. We are so focused on the little one eating, we forget about what our body is doing. Often in the postpartum phase women end up with neck pain, wrist pain, back pain or numbness and tingling in the hands. This is often due to mama’s positioning during feeding. Here are some tips on what to do and what not to do.
Don’t Do This!:
- Lifting the baby to the breast of bottle
- Bending wrist to hold up baby’s head
- Looking down
- Sit in a supportive chair
- Rest baby on a pillow to lift her/him up to the breast or bottle
- Support both arms with pillows, arm rests
- Relax shoulders
- Keep a neutral wrist position
- Keep a neutral head position
Lifting the baby
Picking your child up out of the crib, car seat or off the floor can be challenging and is done multiple times a day with a new baby.
Don’t do this!:
- Bend at the waist to pick up the baby
- Twist as you pick him/her up
- Lower crib rail when able
- Use a stool under one foot for support to help you hinge at the hips when bending over the lowered crib rail or stand on a sturdy stool to bend over a crib with the rail up
- Stay square with the crib or car seat
- Bend your knees and hips to lower your body to the car seat.
In case you haven’t noticed, those car seats are HEAVY! And nearly impossible to carry in a way that isn’t awkward.
Don’t do this!:
- Carry the car seat in one hand at your side
- Over arch your back when carrying the seat
- Bend at the waist when putting the seat in the car
- Twist your trunk when placing the seat in the car
- Hold car seat in front of you with both arms if possible
- Keep your torso square with the car and hinge at the hips
- When at home, consider loading the car seat in the car before you place the baby in it to lessen the weight
- Place a foot on the floor of the car to provide support
Being able to carry your infant and still have both hands to get things done is an attractive option for a lot of moms. Make sure you are choosing a carrier that provides support for both you and your baby and is appropriate for the baby’s size and level of development.
Some things to look for:
- Wide-leg position
- Knees should be level with bottom for infants
- Back should maintain its natural curve
- Good pressure relief, with no undue strain on any part of your body
- Positions baby close to your body
- Wide padded shoulder straps
- Wide padded waist belt
- Options for varying baby-wearing position — facing-in, facing-out and back carrying
- Adjustment options to make it the perfect fit for you
Being a new mom is challenging whether it’s your first baby or your fifth! Every baby and every mom is different. Make sure you new mamas are finding time to take care of you and your bodies. If you’re struggling with any of this positioning or having pain, come on in to Rebound and let us help you! We can provide:
- Training in nursing and baby care ergonomics
- Postural and functional strengthening
- Advice on bracing
- Manual techniques and modalities to reduce pain and speed up healing time
Mia Ramsey, PT, DPT