By Dr. Alison Leitch, Noosa Family Chirorpractor and Medical Acupuncturist (Dry Needling)
Welcome to parenthood! We all want to enjoy this new time in our lives, however for some of us, the stresses and strains of being a new parent can often contribute to low back pain. Suddenly, you are carrying your baby, and all the “baby gear,” lifting prams into the boot of the car and that is just the beginning. For new Moms, you are doing all this while your ligaments may still be loose from pregnancy. Initially, you may be lifting a 3-4.5 kilogram baby 40 times a day, however by the time your little one is a year old, you may be lifting a 8-11 kilogram baby.
Here are some tips for new parents to help avoid developing back pain:
Exercise regularly: Even 10 minutes a day can go a long way to help maintain your flexibility and strength.
Bring the baby close to your chest before you lift: Try not to reach your arms out to lift your baby and avoid twisting your body while you lift. This is especially important when lifting your baby from his/her cot.
Bend with your knees not at your waist: To lift your baby off the floor, squat down, tighten the muscles in your stomach and buttocks and lift with your legs.
Remove the high chair tray: When placing baby in the high chair or taking the baby out of the high chair.
Lift baby from the cot with care: If you can, lower the cot side. If the side of your cot does not lower, gently pull the baby towards you, tighten the muscles in the back of your legs and buttocks and lift the baby over the top.
Avoid hip carrying: Try not to carry your child on your hip. Alternate hips if possible or use a sling or carrier for extra support.
Avoid painful upper backs while feeding: If breastfeeding, bring the baby to your breast, rather than bending over the baby. While feeding sit in an upright chair rather than a soft couch and place a pillow beneath your elbows for additional support.
Car seats: Try not to stand outside the car when placing you child in a car seat. Kneel on the seat if possible. If kneeling is not possible, try to keep your knees slightly bent and use the muscles in your buttocks and legs to lift yourself out of the bent over position.
Healthy weight: Eat healthy foods during your pregnancy and have some healthy freezer meals on supply for after the baby is born. These foods can help to provide your body with the energy that it needs to get through the day. Many women do not like hearing the “weight” word, however maintaining a healthy weight is important to help prevent low back pain.
Pram in the boot: Be careful when lifting strollers into the boot of the car as they can be heavy and awkward to maneuver. Lift with your knees and then twist rather than lifting and twisting in one movement. Bring the pram as close to you as possible before you lift.
Visiting your Chiropractor: Chiropractic care can benefit you at any stage of life however, Chiropractic care can be especially important during pregnancy and after. During pregnancy, your centre of gravity changes due to the additional weight that you are carrying. This adds stresses to the spine. In addition, hormones such as relaxin, cause the ligaments to become looser to prepare the expectant mom for childbirth. These hormones can stay elevated in our systems for months after the baby is born. Chiropractors typically practice a manual approach and provide diagnosis, treatment and preventative recommendations for conditions related to the spine, pelvis, joints, nerves and muscles.