It’s a well-known fact: 40 percent to 50 percent of pregnant women experience back pain, but we all hope it will go after the delivery, like the rest of pregnancy-related discomforts such as heartburn and the close friendship with the loo.
Actually, your chances of having back pain again increase threefold after the baby is born.
“At first, new moms are lifting seven to 10 pounds 50 times a day, and by 12 months, they likely are chasing and lifting a 17-pound child. Two years later, mothers will be lifting a 25-pound to 30-pound child,” Baltimore orthopaedic spine surgeon Alan M. Levine, MD, says.
Here are ten great tips to prevent back pain in new moms. The tips are kindly provided by Dr. Levine, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons – and comments in italics come from the real mom, yours truly.
1. Begin exercising soon after delivery to restore abdominal and back muscle tone. Ten minutes of stretching exercises on the floor each day will restore hip and back flexibility. Dr. Levine suggests that you exercise when your baby is taking a nap, but, frankly, such tip can only come from a man.
When baby’s taking a nap, it’s our chance to strain our back even more by cleaning, mopping, doing laundry and all other things that comprise the life of a normal woman. Not exercising. That belongs to our pre-baby past, along with six-inch heels and 20-dollar lipsticks.
Please note: women who delivered by Caesarian-section (C-section) should wait six weeks or until they get the permission of their obstetrician before they begin exercising.
2. Try to get back to your normal weight within six weeks after giving birth. The risk of back pain is greater among young, overweight women, according to Dr. Levine.
Six weeks? That simply is not realistic and plain dangerous. You cannot shed that much weight in such a short time, especially if you are breastfeeding. It took me nine months to accumulate those ten kilos. Normally, women get back to their pre-pregnancy weight in about a year after giving birth, that’s of course, if you don’t go the lipo route.
3. Do not stretch your arms out to pick up the baby. Bring him/her close to your chest before lifting. Avoid twisting your body. Now, that makes perfect sense.
4. To pick a child up from the floor, bend at your knees (not at your waist), squat down, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your leg muscles. Also a great tip.
5. Remove the high chair tray when you are trying to put the baby in or take the baby out of the high chair. That’s not always possible, but nice point anyway.
6. When picking the child up out of the crib, put the side down and pull the child toward you rather than lifting over the top. Now, that’s really gymnastic, but I will try.
7. Consider using a “front pack” to carry the baby when you are walking. Again, a tip from a man’s world. Front carriers are notorious for making back hurt like mad. Even the most ergonomic ones. Wrap fabric slings are a bit gentler.
8. Do not carry a child on your hip; this overloads the back muscles. Completely true.
9. To avoid upper back pain from breastfeeding, bring the baby to your breast rather than bending over to the baby. Use an upright chair rather than a soft couch. Well-known fact but thanks for reminding.
10. Four-door vehicles are better than two-door vehicles for ease of placing the child in the car seat. With the car seat positioned in the middle of the back seat, do not stand outside the car, reach in and, at arm’s length, try to put the baby in the seat but rather kneel on the back seat to place the baby into the car seat.
Now, that’s a good point – although I cherish my recurring fantasy of having a designer baby seat installed into my dream Porsche.