You’ve made it through the 9 months of pregnancy and now you can interact with your adorable little one face to face!
With all the time spent snuggling, rocking, carrying, and feeding your infant, your back is feeling tense and sore. Wait! This is not how you imagined this special time would be!
Caring for an infant creates new stresses on your lower and upper back. You now are carrying your little one frequently during the day in your arms or perhaps in their infant car seat. To soothe your baby, you may be standing and rocking or bouncing them for an extended period. You bend over frequently to pick them up from the crib or change their diapers. Even feeding them for an extended time puts stress on your upper back.
What can you do about it now?
It’s important to take care of yourself while caring for your new little one! Good posture and body mechanics (movements we make while performing daily activities) are great ways to protect you from postpartum back pain and injury.
- When sitting: Sit firmly against the backrest of your chair (add a pillow as necessary). Sit with feet placed flat on the floor and sit up tall. If you are unable to rest your feet comfortably on the floor, use a small foot stool to support your feet. Avoid a slouching posture by keeping your shoulders back and chin tucked.
- When standing: Keep equal weight on both legs and your knees relaxed. Tuck in your chin and align your ears over your shoulders. Keep your shoulders back and tighten your abdominals to support your lower back.
- While carrying your infant: Keep the child close to you at the center of your body, either over your shoulder supporting them or in a cradle hold in front of you. Keep your shoulders back and contract your abdominals to support your lower back and ease the load on your spine.
- Feeding: Find a chair that will allow you to rest comfortably against the backrest. Use a pillow to support your arm underneath the baby, allowing your arm to relax in this position and avoid increased neck tension. The pillow should bring the baby up to a comfortable height for proper feeding.
- Diaper changing: Use a changing table when able as the height will be better for your back. When bending over your baby to change their diaper, hinge at the waist and keep your spine straight. Have all necessary items for changing the diaper close at hand to avoid excessive reaching or twisting while you maintain a hold on your baby.
- Lifting the infant seat: Get as close to the infant seat as possible and squat or lunge down next to the seat. Use your legs to stand back up while lifting the seat with both hands to evenly distribute the load. Keep the seat close to your body.
- Carrying the infant car seat: Carry the infant seat in front of you with both hands to keep the load as close to you as possible. You can use both hands on the handle or one on the handle and one on the bottom of the seat.
- Lifting the stroller from the trunk of the car: Standing in front of the trunk, hinge at the waist and squat slightly to pick up the stroller from the trunk of your car.
- Lifting infants out of bed: Hinge forward at the waist to keep your spine straight while you reach into the crib for your child. If the mattress is at a lower position, bend your knees and squat to reach them. Avoid flexing over the crib rail!
- Bathing: For an infant bath tub, it’s ideal to have the tub at a countertop height so that you are in a good position to avoid bending over. Once they are in the bathtub, use a tub seat or kneel next to the tub, and hinge at the waist to lean over the tub edge. Have the child sit closer to you to avoid excessive leaning and reaching.
- Standing and rocking: Maintain proper standing posture by keeping your shoulders back and tightening your abdominals to support your back. Rocking or swaying from side to side will soothe your baby and your back, too!
Be sure to take care of yourself, so that you can be ready to care for your baby’s every need! If you need more information about posture and body mechanics, contact one of our knowledgeable physical therapists today.