Are You At Risk For These “New Mom” Injuries?

We all know that pregnancy and childbirth cause physical changes to a woman’s body that take time to heal.

It takes weeks to recover from the immediate strain of childbirth, and it can take months more for our bodies to adjust to a normal center of balance and state of joint health.

But did you know that new moms are prone to other injuries that can have serious consequences?

As amazing as being a new mom is, we are often in a haze those first few weeks and months – and likely not paying attention to our own health and safety.

The physical changes of pregnancy and the increase and decrease of hormone levels cause our muscles and joints to become strained, our center of gravity to shift, and aches and pains are a common occurrence.

But in doing all the things that new moms do – picking up baby, feeding, bathing, changing – we can do permanent damage to the muscles and joints that are still healing.

In fact, Parents Magazine reports that repetitive strain can lead to pain that actually increases the likelihood of postpartum depression.

It can prevent us from feeling up to exercising or eating healthy, and those long days where night and day are blurred only exacerbate the issue.

So what can you do to make sure you don’t injure yourself postpartum and avoid using pain relievers?

One of the most common new mom injuries is back strain.   And back pain can be excruciating.

Our backs have been under strain from carrying the weight of baby for nine months, and all that bending and stooping can cause permanent damage.

To prevent this, doctors recommend that age-old advice:  Bend at the knees.

Hold baby against your lower torso, not on your shoulder, while standing.  And when getting baby out of the crib or bath, squat down as much as possible instead of bending all the way over at the waist.

Many women injure their backs when taking portable car seat/carriers in and out of the car and shopping cart, or cradling the handle in the crook of their arm when walking around.  (We’ve all done it.)

Instead, try to sit down on the edge of the back seat of the car and ease the seat out.  When walking and placing them in a stroller or shopping cart, avoid the one-arm carry, instead using both hands and trying to balance the weight.

If you do strain your back, it is important to rest as much as possible.  Heat can be used on the affected area, as well as soaking in a hot bath.

You can also use ice packs, alternating heat and cold, as ice reduces inflammation and heat loosens up tight tissue.

Rest is best, but difficult with a newborn.  It is important to limit your need to bend and lift, so enlist help and try to prevent further damage.

Doctors can also give you simple strengthening exercises that can relieve swelling and compression of nerves.

Another common injury is wrist pain.  Parents Magazine reports that there is actually a condition called “mother’s wrist.”

This happens when we bend our wrists at an odd angle while holding baby, causing fluid retention and inflammation.

When cradling baby, keep your arm, wrist, and hand in a straight line, palm open, to help give stability to the baby’s head.

When baby gets bigger, using a baby carrier or wrap can help to give the tendons in the wrist a break, with time to heal.

Experts say that “mother’s wrist” can cause a secondary issue – overusing the other hand to the point that both are painful.

If the pain is severe, see a doctor, who may recommend a wrist brace.  Hot and cold compresses also help to loosen the tendons and reduce inflammation.

And remember, don’t hold baby’s carrier or car seat one-handed with your wrist bent.  This can cause even more severe damage.

Perhaps the most common postpartum injuries doctors hear about are pulled muscles or pinched nerves in the neck or shoulders.

Hunching over while cradling baby and hours of leaning over breastfeeding can cause major strain to the muscles supporting your head.

One of the best – and most simple – forms of prevention is to use a nursing pillow to lift the baby higher while feeding and prevent the strain that travels from the supporting arm to the head and neck.

Using a footstool to raise your knees can help as well, and it is important to switch sides periodically, whether breast or bottle feeding.

Again, heat and massage can help alleviate pain, as well as making sure you sleep with a good, supportive pillow.  (When you’re able to sleep, that is!)

And finally, the “mom stance.”  Once baby can support their head, we like to jut out our hip and carry them everywhere.

But this common practice can cause problems with spine alignment, pelvic, arm, neck, and shoulder pain.

And when we carry our little ones like this, we are usually not practicing good posture.

Although we need to have a free hand most of the time, carrying baby with both arms is the best prevention for this injury.

If you are a fan of the hip-carry (we all are!), make sure to switch sides on a regular basis.  Most of us have a tendency to favor the side of our dominant hand, but extended use of one side can prevent healing.

And do your best to try to keep your back straight instead of overly jutting out the hip.

When sitting for long periods of time, good posture is key.

It’s also a good idea to use a lumbar cushion and avoid those sagging, comfy couch cushions in favor of a seat with a straighter back when breastfeeding.

Most new moms will have one or all of these injuries at some point, and they are all related.  An injury in one area can compound strain on another.

So take care of yourselves, mommas!

Get rest, hydrate, and avoid bending, stooping, or lifting with your back.  We want you to avoid pain so you can enjoy every minute with your little one.

Have you experienced any of these new mom injuries?  What helped you to prevent or heal them?  Leave us your thoughts.

 

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