Back strain can be caused from lifting and carrying a baby or toddler on a daily basis. It may be the result of lifting incorrectly or the actual weight load and frequency of lifting.
A new-born baby may weigh six to ten pounds but by the time they become a demanding two-year-old toddler they may weigh 25 to 30 pounds. You may lift your infant up to 50 times a day to feed, bath and move them around as you go about your daily routine, as well as spending a lot of time bending over your infant. All this lifting and bending is often done without thinking or whilst trying to perform other tasks as well as mums being unprepared for these physical challenges.
So it’s no wonder that a mum’s back is put under a lot of strain.
There are steps you can take to relieve your back pain and reduce future back problems associated with holding your baby.
Heat or ice can relieve back pain. A soak in the bath or applying an ice pack to your back may help.
If you’ve mild or moderate back pain over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen may help. If these don’t relieve your pain, you should speak with your doctor who may be able to prescribe stronger pain relievers. Make sure you let them know if you’re breastfeeding to ensure your medication is safe for your baby.
Your lifting technique is important when lifting your baby, heavy car seats often with your infant in, and strollers.
When picking up your baby, you should bend at your knees and not at your waist, making sure to lift with your legs and not your back. Don’t stretch your arms out to pick up your baby. Make sure you bring your baby close to your chest before lifting.
Don’t carry your child on your hip as this can overload your back muscles.
It’s also beneficial to avoid twisting your body whilst holding your baby and to kneel in front of your child when you strap them into the car seat. If you have a two-door car it may be worth considering trading it in for a four-door car to make it easier to place your child in their car seat.
Keep your back straight when breastfeeding
To avoid upper back pain due to breastfeeding, keep your back straight and bring your baby up to your breast. You should not bend over your baby to breastfeed. An upright chair rather than a soft couch is best. You can use cushions to help in positioning your baby.
A massage may provide quick relief as well as some time to unwind.
Take time to rest and look after yourself as well as your baby. For a few weeks after childbirth your ligaments and joints may still be relaxed and more prone to injury. Try not to stand for long periods as this puts extra pressure on your back.
Take up offers of help from friends and family and ask for support as required.
Whenever practical use carrying aids such as pushchairs and baby carriers to take the weight of your baby. A front carrier rather than a back carrier can be better for your back when you are walking.
Car seats for babies are heavy and as your baby grows they become even heavier. It may be easier to fasten the seat in place in your car first and then place your baby into the seat.
Exercise and activity are the most important ways of helping yourself if you have back pain.
Exercise can help you build the muscles that support your back and improve your posture. Stretching exercises and yoga will assist you in restoring your hip and back flexibility. Pilates is good for strengthening the muscles of your abdomen and spine to prevent back pain and injury.
You should speak to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Physiotherapy and back pain assessment at Ashtead Hospital
If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, then a physiotherapy assessment of your back pain with one of Ashtead Hospital's chartered physiotherapists may be beneficial. They will offer advice on self-help measures, and physiotherapy treatment and exercises to relieve your pain. If they suspect your pain is the result of a more serious medical condition, they can refer you to one of the hospital's spinal consultants.
To book an appointment please call 01372 221400 or contact Ashtead Hospital.