- New mothers’ bodies have to bear the additional stress caused by carrying baby weight throughout pregnancy and after childbirth
- New mothers’ abdominal muscles weaken and may even separate as their stomachs stretch out, making their cores weaker and less likely to support their spines
- Maternal hormones loosen up ligaments and joints, which may cause spinal weakness and instability
Baby duties such as long periods of breastfeeding, constantly and quickly lifting a growing baby and bending over to change diapers contribute to spinal and pelvic pain. New fathers can suffer from spinal pain too (if they help with these duties, of course)
Here are some simple tips you can follow to prevent spine and pelvic pain
STRENGTHEN AND STRETCH
Do alternate between rest and activity, instead of spending long periods of time being active or resting
Do strengthen your pelvic floor and core muscles by doing kegel and core exercises. Stretch your back regularly. Any form of exercise should feel good during and after.
Do always consult a physician when experiencing back pain. Do not exercise without consulting a physician if you are experiencing back or neck pain.
Don't do traditional core exercises like sit-ups and planks as new mothers tend to have weakened cores that they may not be able to engage to safely and properly perform these exercises.
KEEP YOUR SPINE STRAIGHT
Do keep your spine straight and shoulders back when standing, sitting, walking and carrying your baby. You can rest one foot on a small stool or lean against a wall while standing. Keep your knees relaxed and slightly bent.
Do sleep on a firm mattress that allows for natural alignment of your spine. Place pillows in between your knees when sleeping sideways. Bend your knees and roll to a side before getting up from your bed and before you lie down on it. Avoid soft surfaces that your hips can sink in. When getting out of bed, roll onto one side before supporting yourself up. Avoid getting out of bed in a sit-up movement.
Don't overarch your back as your pregnancy belly grows. Avoid standing for long periods of time.
BREASTFEED WITH SUPPORT
Do sit tall in an armchair with support for the elbows, the lower back and your feet. Use a feeding pillow to support your baby’s weight. Avoid folding your legs while breastfeeding. Avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
AVOID BENDING FORWARD CONSTANTLY
Do use a diaper changing table so that you can stand up straight while changing diapers. If you have to bend forward, keep your back straight and bend at your hips and knees instead.
Don't bend forward when you have to change diapers or lift your baby. Avoid bending, lifting weight and twisting at the same time as this exerts a massive amount of stress on the spine.
Don't carry or lift heavy objects, especially on a single side. Use a child carrier to distribute the load of your baby evenly on both sides of your body.
CHOOSE SHOES WITH ARCH SUPPORT
Do wear comfortable shoes with adequate arch support and cushioning.
Don't wear high heels as they exert additional stress on your pelvic and back joints which may cause muscular imbalances. Flats, too, do not provide the necessary arch support to absorb shock.