Back pain is a common complaint among new mums. And it’s likely to have nothing to do with the epidural, but everything to do with your carrying and feeding posture.
BAD HABIT 1: You bend over to carry Baby out of her cot.
To lift your little one up, you lock your knees and bend at the waist. Now, multiply the same action at least 10 times a day. Chances are, you’ll soon end up with a stiff back.
Incorrect lifting techniques don’t just strain your back muscles, they may also lead to joint or disc injury, causing pain and numbness in the buttocks and/or legs, warns Dr David Lim, director of Wellness for Life Chiropractic.
What you should do
To avoid adding stress on your back and abdomen, lift Baby by gently tightening your lower abdominal muscles. Then, bend from your knees – not at the waist or back, says Gail Craig, clinic manager and senior physiotherapist at Physioactive.
Before you actually lift her up, ensure that she is kept close to your body, she adds. That lessens the strain of her weight on your back.
But even the best lifting technique cannot save your back if you’re out of shape to begin with, adds Dr Lim.
“When you are unfit, you will not be strong enough to lift or carry a heavy load. Your baby will get heavier over time. How you lift and position your baby is important, but equally important are good lifestyle habits such as good posture and regular exercise,” he explains.
Gail suggests starting with gentle exercises like light stretching, walking or swimming about six to eight weeks after delivery. This is after you get the green light from your doctor to ensure you have no medical issues, abdominal separation or very weak pelvic floor muscles.
Avoid high-impact exercises for the time being – hormonal changes during pregnancy may still affect your joints for up to five months after birth, Gail explains.
If you’re breastfeeding, your hormone levels will return to pre-pregnancy levels only after you’ve weaned Baby, she adds.
BAD HABIT 2: You slouch or hunch when feeding her.
You’re exhausted, sleepy and all you want to do is to get comfy while nursing or bottle-feeding Baby for the umpteenth time. Over time, slouching or hunching can cause back pain, either in the neck area or mid- to lower back, Gail warns.
What you should do
Set up a “feeding station”, she suggests. This is where you will do majority of your feeds. First, get a chair with a high back and armrests.
Your knees should be slightly higher than your hips while seated, so use a small footstool if necessary. Place a rolled up towel in the small of your back to support your back and prevent slouching.
If you’re nursing, ensure that her chest and tummy are facing you. Then bring her to your breast, instead of hunching. Experiment with other comfortable breastfeeding positions with help from
a lactation expert.
At bath time, use a changing table or place the bathtub on a stand or table. This allows you to stand rather than stoop or lean over, which can hurt your back, Gail explains.
This article first appeared on www.youngparents.com.sg.