You were up all night. Your baby is crying. The telephone is ringing and the kettle is boiling. For most parents, this is a daily scenario. Parents are also continually faced with strenuous physical demands, such as lifting, feeding, comforting and chasing after children.
As a parent, you may be lifting a seven to ten-pound baby 50 times a day. By 12 months, your baby weighs approximately 17 pounds, and at two years, that child has become a 25 to 30-pound toddler. Repeatedly lifting your child may put you at risk for back problems.
What’s a parent to do?
Here are some simple tips that can help you avoid some common aches and pains:
- Stand with your feet at least a shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your back in a neutral position and bend your knees.
- Lift using both arms and bring your baby as close to your chest as possible.
- Hold your child in an upright position, directly against your chest.
- Avoid carrying your child on one hip, this creates postural imbalances that can lead to low back pain over time.
- When carrying your little one, pivot with your feet instead of twisting your back. This ensures that you’re turning with your hips, which will reduce your risk of back pain.
- Lower your child into the crib or onto the floor by bending at your knees, with a neutral back.
- Always sit in a chair with a back support. Avoid leaning forward to reach your newborn’s mouth.
- Instead, use pillows or blankets to support and position your baby closer to you.
- Exercise can help increase muscle support for your aching back.
- While your baby is enjoying tummy time, join them on the floor and do some exercises to help strengthen your core.
Exercises/stretches to help alleviate your back pain at home:
- Breathing deeply and calmly, relax your stomach muscles let your head hang loosely forward and gently roll from side to side.
- Bring your hands up to your neck and gently massage the back of your head and neck.
- Drop your arms to your sides, relax your shoulders and slowly roll them backward and forward for 15 seconds.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, raise your hands. Bring your right elbow across your body while lifting your left knee.
- Remaining upright, touch elbow to knee and repeat alternating sides for 15 seconds
A study in the Journal of Orthopaedics reported that 50 to 90 per cent of pregnant women will likely experience lower back pain. This pain may persist after giving birth if you don’t take action to keep your back healthy at home.
Here are some ways to reduce the risk of back and neck pain:
Lighten your load
- Choose a diaper bag that distributes weight evenly across your body to limit the stress on your muscles, such as a cross-body diaper bag or a diaper bag that can be worn as a backpack.
Stretch your body
- When your baby is old enough for tummy time, join them on the floor and do some exercises to stretch your neck and back.
- When nursing, avoid hunching and keep your baby close to you. Instead, choose a comfortable, upright chair with a pillow.
Keep your baby close
- Don’t stretch your arms out. Bring your baby close to your chest before lifting. Consider wearing your baby on your front to alleviate the strain on your back.
Keep tub trouble at bay
- Avoid reaching or twisting when bending over a tub. Be on the same level as your baby. When kneeling, use a non-slip mat to protect your knees.
Consult a chiropractor so that you can stay on your toes and a step ahead of your toddler.
To find a chiropractor near you, use the chiropractor locator on our website. In Ontario, you can visit a chiropractor without a referral from a doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care professional. If you already have a chiropractor and/or another health care professional, join our Partnership4BetterHealth online patient advisory community. Then, you can share your ideas on how to enhance chiropractic services and make a positive impact on our health care system. It’s confidential, free, and always your choice to participate.