There are several good blogs on The Pulse for managing and preventing back pain during pregnancy. But what about after pregnancy? The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has been making an effort to educate new parents about the dangers of back pain and back injury caused by infants and childcare. This type of back pain applies to both moms and dads.
Back pain during pregnancy is caused by pregnancy hormones that let your joints get overstretched, weight gain, and a shift in your center of gravity. This type of back pain starts after the 18th week of pregnancy and usually clears up after pregnancy. Back pain after pregnancy is caused by stress you put on your back. There are some good ways to reduce this stress.
When you start exercising, concentrate on hip and back strength and flexibility. Leave the baby with dad and get yourself to a yoga or Pilates class. AAOS highly recommends these classes for back conditioning after pregnancy.
Back Pain After Pregnancy
The main cause is lifting and bending. Think about lifting your 7 to 10 pound infant about 50 times every day. Now think about lifting your 17-pound one-year-old. Now how about that 25 to 30 pound two-year old. Get the picture?
Tips for Moms
For moms, the first tip is to get back your pre-pregnancy conditioning. Ask your doctor when you can start exercising again. Talk about a healthy weight and make a plan to get there. When you start exercising, concentrate on hip and back strength and flexibility. Leave the baby with dad and get yourself to a yoga or Pilates class. AAOS highly recommends these classes for back conditioning after pregnancy.
One more tip just for moms is breastfeeding. Try to avoid leaning over to breastfeed. Use some pillow or cushions to bring your baby up to breast level. Sit in an upright chair when you feed. Avoid slouching in bed or a soft couch since there is no support for your back.
Tips for Moms and Dads
You are both going to be bending and lifting your child, so here are some tips:
- To pick your child up from the floor, bend your knees, not your back. Squat down, pick up, tighten your abs, and lift with your legs.
- When lifting your child, don’t reach out with your arms. Bring your child into your chest. Lift without twisting.
- When holding your child in your arms, avoid supporting your child’s weight on your hip. This position puts your lower back in a vulnerable position for stress or injury.
- When feeding your child in a high chair avoid the battle with the tray. Take the tray out before trying to wedge your child past it or pull your child through it. Don’t bend over to feed. Sit down next to the chair to feed your child and clean up the mess.
- When carrying your child for any time or distance, use a front pack, the type that straps around your shoulders and back to distribute weight evenly.
- Beware the car seat. Car seats are a major cause of back pain. Avoid carrying your child back and forth to the car in the car seat. That is a lot of weight and stress on your back. If you can, put the car seat in first, and then go back and get your child. This assumes you have someone to watch your child while you go to the car. Same thing with taking out. Take the child, leave the car seat for later.
- One more car-seat tip: The safest place for a car seat is in the middle of the back seat. This is also safer for your back. You can sit next to the car seat while putting your child into the seat or taking out. The worst thing to do is lift your child to or from the seat while you are bending into the car. If you can’t sit down, rest your knee on the side of the seat.
These tips address the major causes of back pain and injuries in new parents. If you have back pain that lasts more than a few days or comes with numbness, weakness, or shooting pain, talk to your doctor. If you follow these tips, you may be able to avoid that type of pain.