Complaints of back pain by pregnant women are common. Usually, the pain diminishes within two weeks after delivery. But back pain may return as you begin lifting and carrying the infant on a daily basis. As the infant grows, the weight load increases and back pain can result.
Caring for an infant puts stress on your back. Initially, you may be lifting the 7- to 10-pound baby up to 50 times a day. By the time the child is a year old, you are lifting and carrying 17 pounds. Two years later, you will be lifting a 25- to 30-pound child.
Here are ten ways that new mothers can help reduce their risk of injury and back pain. Many of these tips also work well with new fathers!
- Begin exercising soon after delivery to restore muscle tone to the abdominal and back muscles. While the baby is napping, take 10 minutes to do stretching exercises on the floor each day. This will help restore hip and back flexibility.
- Try to return to your normal weight within six weeks after giving birth.
- Do not stretch your arms out to pick up the baby. Bring the baby close to your chest before lifting. Avoid twisting your body.
- To pick up a child from the floor, bend at your knees-not at your waist. Squat down, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your legs.
- Remove the high chair tray when you are trying to put the baby in or take the baby out of the high chair.
- When lifting the child up out of the crib, put the crib side down and pull the child toward you. Do not bend over the crib side and lift the baby over the top.
- Consider using a "front pack" to carry the baby when you are walking.
- Do not carry a child on your hip; this overloads the back muscles.
- To avoid upper back pain from breastfeeding, bring the baby to your breast, rather than bending over the baby. While you are nursing, sit in an upright chair rather than a soft couch.
- Do not stand outside the car and try to place the child in the car seat. Kneel on the back seat as you place the baby into the car seat. Consider trading in your sporty two-door model for a four-door vehicle, which will make it easier for you to place the child in the car seat.
If you had a Caesarian-section (C-section) delivery, wait six weeks or until you get the permission of your obstetrician before you begin exercising. Additionally, the risk of back pain is greater among young, overweight women.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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Rosemont, IL 60018