Five Helpful Tips to Prevent Back Pain After Becoming a New Mom
Is the emotional joy of delivering your little bundle of joy overshadowed by the physical post-pregnancy pain you may be feeling? Many new mothers still feel like they have a big hole in their abdomen or even begin to develop back pain. I am here to arm you with some simple tips to protect your back and restore your form to be “mommy strong” again!
After I had my first child I was disappointed by the lack of aftercare given to me by my OB-GYN. I was instructed to do some Kegel exercises and to begin exercising in six weeks. After I delivered my second child I didn’t even get that helpful hint. I thought perhaps since I am a physical therapist my physician assumed I knew the protocol. Well, I fear that was a poor assumption. I have heard the same from other new mothers. In this day in age where there are endless books and online resources on all the “must dos” during pregnancy and with infants, there are not as many resources available to help mothers get their body back into form and function.
In our practice we treat a lot of women during pregnancy that are saddled with back pain as the load of the baby increases. After they give birth it is assumed that the back pain will go away. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Your body had just gained 25 pounds, lost 25 pounds and ran a marathon called birth. Now you are spending the entire day bent over, contorting your body to nurse the baby and carrying a cumbersome baby carrier, not to mention lifting it in and out of the car. This rigorous activity, for new mothers, is extremely stressful to your low back.
Once you have delivered your baby, you will experience a lack of control of your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles that help to stabilize your spine. If you had a C-section you are spared the weakened pelvic floor but you have had your lumbar stabilizers cut and compromised and now have scar tissue that can cause significant delay in your ability to activate your abdominal muscles that stabilize your spine.
Five Tips to Get “Mommy Strong” & Prevent Nagging Back Pain After Pregnancy:
1. Posture: Maintaining good posture is the most important thing you can do to protect your back. It is certainly not the first thing on your mind, especially for first time moms, but the slightest attention you can pay to your posture will go a long way in protecting your back. In order to maintain a neutral spine as often as possible make sure to squat at the knees instead of bending over to get the baby. You can also keep from bending over by keeping one leg extended behind you when retrieving items that are on the ground or down low such as in a crib.
2. Carrying Baby: When carrying the baby carrier try to use two hands to carry it and keep it as close to your body as possible. Try to avoid the one arm and swing method that has you bending over sideways.
3. Holding Baby: When holding the baby try to bend your knees to lean back instead of doing the mommy back bend when walking around with baby on your shoulder.
4. Using Your Hips: If possible try to avoid carrying baby on your hips, this overloads the back muscles. Although as a mom we are always multi-tasking and commonly will carry our older babies on our hip. If you employ this carrying method make sure that you are alternating between the sides of your hips. Switching it up as much as possible will lessen the load on one particular side.
5. Restoring Strength - Pelvic Floor Exercises: Kegels are the most important exercise you can do after having children. Most of us think once we do them for a few weeks we are good to go. Well ladies, sorry to say these are exercises you need to do for the rest of your life on a daily basis. Doing even just a few a day will make a difference. Even if you had a C-section these are still necessary as carry a baby for nine months stresses these muscles and weakens them. A kegel is a contraction of your pelvic floor that is like stopping your flow of urine. This is not something to do while on the commode as it can cause problems later. Contractions can start off small and build in intensity. You can do them in the car or standing. It is ideal to try to hold them for 10 seconds and then work up to 30 second and repeat 10-15 times.