10 Tips for New Mums: Managing back pain.
Enter said little one, with their around the clock needs, heavy car-seat and extra luggage to cart around. Add in a lack of sleep, no time to exercise. Is it any wonder that so many new mums suffer from back pain?
However, with a little bit of self-care and effort, you can minimise or even prevent back pain altogether by following these simple tips:
1. Baby Carrying
Use a sling that holds your baby centrally and symmetrically across your front. Look for one with padded shoulder straps and a hip belt which helps distribute the weight evenly. When you don’t have a sling, alternate your carrying side to avoid strain patterns developing. Take a break from carrying and let others take the load whenever they are around to help. As your little one gets bigger, encourage them to move themselves as much as possible. 2. Feeding
Sit in a supportive chair and use pillows to help your posture. A small pillow behind your lower back will help maintain its natural curve, and a cushion under the arm supporting your baby’s head will prevent strain in your your arm and upper back. If you are breast-feeding use pillows to position your baby in an optimal feeding position, rather than trying to move your breast towards your baby.
3. Nappy Changing
Use a nappy-changing table or place the changing mat on top of a chest of drawers. Of course, you may need to adapt your set up when your baby shows signs of starting to roll! If you always change your baby’s nappy on the floor, your back will not thank you – or your knees for that matter. 4. Lifting
Try to lift heavy items (eg car-seat with baby in it) by bending and straightening your knees, rather than bending forwards from your back with straight legs. Even better, if you have a companion with you, delegate. 5. Exercise
This is probably the most important tip, but may feel the most difficult to find time for. Walking, swimming, gentle pilates and post-natal yoga are all excellent forms of exercise for new mums. Movement is so important for a healthy back. If you can’t make a regular class, consider getting a DVD, subscribing to an online course, youtube videos or just do a simple 10 min exercise routine at home. Exercise that gently strengthens the abdominal and core muscles and mobilise the spine are ideal. Less it more. Be kind to yourself and do what you can, 10 minutes makes all the difference.
Your body needs sleep and rest to rejuvenate and heal. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done with a new baby. Here are some suggestions that might help: getting your other half to do a night feed; napping in the day if/when your baby naps; temporarily sleeping in separate beds so you and your partner don’t wake each other if one gets up earlier; going to bed early.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or accept help if it is offered. Many new mums feel they should be managing everything perfectly by themselves. This is an impossible feat and will probably end up breaking you physically and mentally. 8. Cot
If you have a cot that has adjustable heights, use the highest level until your baby can pull themselves up. Some cots have a side that you can slide up and down which can be useful to prevent straining your back. 9. Medication
Current guidelines state that paracetemol and ibuprofen are safe to take when breast-feeding. Recent evidence suggests however that paracetemol has little effect on back pain, so ibuprofen may be a better bet. Always take ibuprofen with food to protect your stomach. Your GP may be able to advise on other pain medications that are safe to take if you are breast-feeding. 10. Get Professional Help
If these tips don’t resolve your back pain, seek help from a back pain specialist such as an osteopath. An osteopath will assess what is causing your pain and either use gentle hands-on techniques to relieve muscle and joint tension or refer on for further tests if necessary. Osteopaths will also advise on specific exercises and lifestyle adaptations to do at home.