Now that you’re past delivery, with your baby snug in your arms, you may think you can put back pain behind you. Not exactly, says Dr. Ronny Hertz, Chief of the Division of Pain Management at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals.
“Many pregnancy hormones can loosen joints and ligaments that connect the pelvis to the spine, which can lead to back pain,” Dr. Hertz says. If you’re a new mom, what can you do about it? Dr. Hertz prescribes some easy tips to help you change some common backbreaking habits.
Habit #1: You’re tired, so you ignore your exercise routine.
Dr. Hertz’s Orders: Begin exercising as soon as possible after delivery to restore tone in your abdominal, back and leg muscles. To restore hip and back flexibility, take 10 minutes to stretch while your baby is napping, or break out the yoga mat for some plank poses. If you have a Cesarean section delivery, wait six weeks or until you get your doctor’s clearance to begin exercising.
Habit #2: You bend at the waist to pick up your infant from the floor.
Dr. Hertz’s Orders: Bend at your knees when picking up your baby. Not only will it save your back, it also will build your glute muscles (your backside). Here’s how: Squat down, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your legs. When you lift a 7–10 pound baby up to 50 times per day, the right technique can mean the difference between hurting your back and helping your figure.
Habit #3: You carry your baby on your hip.
Dr. Hertz’s Orders: Carrying an infant puts substantial stress on your back. As your infant grows, the weight load increases and can cause back pain. Instead of carrying your child on your hip, consider a front-facing infant carrier. It will help distribute the weight evenly on your body and reduce the chances of back strain.
Habit #4: You breastfeed on a soft, comfy couch.
Dr. Hertz’s Orders: We know feeding time might be your only break time (see habit #5), but resist the temptation to get too comfortable while breastfeeding. Slouching may feel good for a minute, but it will become a burden. Instead, sit in an upright chair when nursing and bring the baby up to your breast rather than bending over to him or her. Good posture lengthens the spine and relieves pressure on the discs between the vertebrae, while also engaging your abdominal muscles.
Habit #5: You don’t take time for yourself to simply relax.
Dr. Hertz’s Orders: Yes, babies require a lot of attention, but so do new moms. Easing tension and stress can work wonders on back pain. Here’s how you can relieve back pain now, and as your baby grows:
- Try a warm bath or a heating pad. The heat may help relax your muscles.
- Get a massage. It can temporarily soothe pulled muscles, tense shoulders and lower back pain.
- Learn relaxation techniques to relieve and cope with back pain.
- Recruit help. Give your partner, family members and friends some quality time with the baby while you take a nap or go for a walk.
If you’re dealing with back pain, find a physician who can help. Call 1-855-411-LWNY (5969) or visit chpnyc.org