New Parents Can Prevent Back Pain by Strengthening Core, Using Proper Lifting
New parents, especially mothers, can prevent the back pain that often accompanies caring for a new baby by losing pregnancy weight, strengthening muscles and practicing good posture.
Caring for an infant and toddler on a daily basis can cause back pain when parents – often unknowingly – fail to practice proper lifting techniques.
“Back pain presents a problem to many mothers caring for their babies,” said Sabrina Strickland, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Initially, mothers may start off lifting their child of seven to 10 pounds, numerous times per day. Slowly the weight load increases as the child grows, and if the proper lifting techniques aren’t used, this can lead to back strain.”
Back Pain Prevention Tips
The AAOS recommends the following prevention tips for new parents to help to reduce their risk of injury and back pain. Mothers who had a Caesarian-section (C-section) delivery should wait until they have the permission of their doctor to begin exercising:
- Once cleared by a doctor, mothers should exercise to restore muscle tone to the abdominal and back muscles. While the baby is napping, take 10 minutes to do stretching and strengthening exercises on the floor each day to restore hip and back flexibility and strength.
- Try to return to your normal weight within six months after giving birth, but start eating a healthy diet immediately.
- Do not lift the baby with outstretched arms. Instead bring the baby close to your chest and then lift. Avoid twisting your body.
- To pick up a child from the floor, bend at your knees, not at your waist. Squat down, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your legs.
- Remove the high chair tray when you are trying to put the baby in or take the baby out of the high chair.
- When lifting a baby out of the crib, bringing the child close to you while slightly bending your knees can reduce back strain. When getting a new crib, remember choosing one that is appropriately sized for your height will make lifting your infant easier.
- Consider using a “front pack” to carry the baby when you are walking.
- Do not carry a child on your hip; this overloads the back muscles and if you must, alternate sides.
- To avoid upper back pain from nursing, bring the baby to your breast, rather than bending over the baby. While you are nursing, use a pillow or a specially designed nursing pillow to elevate the baby.
- Do not stand outside the car to place the child in the car seat. Instead, place one foot in the car on the floor as you place the baby into the car seat. When purchasing a car, remember that a four-door vehicle will make it easier to place the child in a car seat.
Source: AAOS news release
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