Ergonomics for Moms
Are you a new mom, expecting, or have a toddler? Do you have constant or intermittent neck or back pain as a result of repeatedly lifting and carrying them? Then this article is for you!
As you are aware, your core musculature (abdominals) are often impaired from pregnancy and after childbirth. Not only does your abdominal muscles get stretched and weakened, but your pelvic floor muscles and deep back muscles often suffer tears or laxity. This muscle imbalance of the core and low back can cause new moms to have neck stiffness and low back pain when caring for their new bundle of joy. However, just because your baby is always getting bigger and heavier, does not mean you have to continue to experience neck and or low back pain! This post will give some tips for proper ergonomics and posture when holding, lifting, feeding, bathing and carrying your baby. These tips will also help to engage your core musculature to allow for gradual strengthening immediately post-partum.
Newborn babies eat a lot in the beginning of their life to help them grow. As a mom, you may feel like that is all you do in the beginning. Whether you bottle feed or breastfeed, we need to maintain proper posture while sitting to feed your baby. PILLOWS will be your best friend! Put regular pillows or a nursing pillow under your arms and under the baby’s bottom. Using these pillows, will help you to relax your neck and arm muscles which can decrease the stress on the neck. Additionally, placing a pillow in the small of your back will tilt your pelvis anteriorly and prevent slouching. Some other tips is reclining back slightly and putting your feet on a foot rest or squarely on the floor to also help reduce strain on the neck and back.
When holding and carrying your baby, carrying them on the front of your torso would apply the least amount of stress to the low back. There are baby carriers on the market that applies the baby’s weight symmetrically through the hips to reduce pain. If you have to carry your baby on your hip, keep your body straight and switch sides every 15 – 20 minutes to even out the strain on your hips and low back. A stroller is also a great option when going out so you do not have to carry your baby the entire time.
When lifting your baby, whether it is in / out of the crib or the infant car seat, you want to squat and bend at the knees, not the back. This will help reduce stress and pain on the low back. Also, keep your baby close to your body when lifting to reduce strain on your arms and to help engage your core. If you find yourself needing cues to remember these tasks, focus on drawing in your belly button before you lift!
When your baby is small, put their baby bath in the sink to eliminate bending over which can increase stress on the low back. As your baby grows and takes baths in the bathtub, make sure you have knee pads or a pillow under your knees when bathing your baby to help maintain proper posture and reduce back pain.
For more information on proper posture, lifting techniques and postpartum exercises, call to schedule a visit to your local Carolina Physical Therapy!