Many pregnant women experience back pain at some point during their pregnancy, especially in the last trimester as baby continues to grow and bones and muscles shift and change in preparation for birth. What takes many new parents by surprise is how their bodies change once their sweet addition arrives. Whether this is your first baby or you have a toddler or two in tow, it’s normal to experience aches and pains as your body adjusts to new activities such as nursing, diaper changing, and lugging the stroller, baby bag, and car seat from house to car to store and back.
In addition to repetitive motions such as lifting that may strain your muscles and spine, ligaments and joints are still loose from hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and relaxin that built a beautiful person and helped your body adjust to pregnancy. As these hormones normalize, busy new moms may not have time or energy to properly heal from giving birth, setting them up for potential injury. Here are some tips for easing that nagging back, neck, or shoulder pain that may creep up on you after that midnight feeding:
- Feed your baby in a seated position. Support your low back by placing a stool or thick book under your feet and support baby’s weight with a pillow. Special nursing pillows are available at most department stores and online, but a bed or household pillow may work just as well. Bring the baby to the breast or bottle instead of hunching over to reach him or her.
- If you must use your phone while sitting with baby, avoid neck and shoulder pain from the “ear-to-shoulder” position by using a hands-free device or speaker. Or when possible, do your best to set aside feeding time for bonding and make your calls later.
- When lifting an infant carrier to and from the car, keep it as close to the body as possible, using legs instead of low back to lift. Use a “snap-and-go” stroller built for accommodating your infant carrier when possible instead of carrying the seat over your arm. The constant swinging motion puts extra strain on spinal joints and may lead to eventual muscle injury as the baby grows.
- Be conscious of how you are lifting your baby or toddler. When lifting out of the crib, lower the side before lifting. Tighten abdominal muscles and lift with your legs to take the strain off the spine and sacrum.
- As soon as you are cleared by your obstetrician, begin to work your way back into exercise. Regular exercise will not only strengthen your core and your heart but will help you to shed excess weight, improve your mood, help boost your energy level, and reduce stress.
Our expert team of medical providers and therapists at Oahu Spine and Rehab are here to help you customize a pain relief and rehabilitation plan that will help you reach your post-pregnancy best!