Why is spine and pelvic pain so common for new mothers?
- Stress from baby weight throughout pregnancy and childbirth
- Abdominal muscles weaken and can even separate as they stretch out
- Maternal hormones loosen up ligaments and joints and hence cause spine weakness and instability
- Heavy baby duties such as long periods of breastfeeding, constantly lifting fast growing baby and bending to change diapers. New fathers can suffer from spine pain too.
However, it can be prevented effectively. Here are some simple tips.
Strengthen and Stretch
Do: strengthen pelvic floor, deep stomach, and back muscles with core-strengthening exercise and kegels. Stretch your back regularly. Any form of exercise should feel good during and after the activity.
Don't: avoid sit-ups as they add a huge amount of stress to the spine unnecessarily.
Keep Your Spine Straight
Do: keep the spine straight and shoulders back when standing, sitting, walking and carrying your baby. While standing, you can rest one foot on a small stool or lean against a wall. Keep your knees relaxed and slightly bent.
Don't: avoid overarching your back as your pregnancy belly grows. Avoid standing for a long duration of time.
Sleep on a Firm Bed
Sleep on a firm bed that allows for the natural alignment of the spine. Use pillows between your knees when sleeping sideways. Bend your knees, roll to the side before getting up from the bed. Vice versa when you lie down. Avoid soft surfaces that your hips can sink in. Avoid sitting up straight from your bed.
Breastfeed with Support
When you breastfeed, sit tall in an armchair with support for the elbows, the lower back and your feet. Use a feeding pillow to support the baby 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 straight. If you have to bend, keep your back straight and bend your hips and knees instead.
Don't: avoid bending forward when you change diapers or lift your baby. Avoid bending, lifting weight and twisting at the same time, which is extremely stressful for the spine.
Don't: avoid carrying or lifting heavy things, especially on one side. Use a child carrier to distribute the load evenly on two sides of your body.
Choose Shoes with Arch Support
Do: wear supportive shoes with arch support and cushioning.
Don't: avoid high heels as they add excess stress on pelvic and back joints, and cause imbalance. Flats do not provide the necessary arch support that absorb shock.
Alternate between rest and activity, rather than spending long periods of time being active or resting. Always consult a physician when having lower back pain. Don’t exercise without consulting a physician when you have back or neck pain.