I’m a new parent...what the heck is going on with my joints!?

I recently partnered up with a friend and colleague, Natalie Willes - Baby Sleep Trainer, in helping her share her knowledge about getting babies to sleep on a routine. Although my son is a first grader now, it reminded me of those new mom days. Aside from the sleep challenges, I remembered how many new aches and pains I had.

Did you know as a new parent, you may lift your baby 50 times a day? The extra bending, stopping and lifting can create strain on your joints. And as your child grows, this strain becomes even more magnified.

Several common orthopaedic conditions crop up around postpartum - for mom and dad both! Here are some of the most common:
 
Dequervain’s Tenosynovitis
- Also called “New Mother’s Wrist”, this is a condition where the tendon’s sheath, or covering, becomes inflamed due to repeated lifting. When your hand and wrist are in the “handshake” position, then you lift upwards (like when you are holding a baby under his/her arms and lifting upward), it can put excessive strain on these structures. This can be exceedingly painful.
- Modifying the lifting technique, i.e. using the hand and forearm to “scoop” up a child using the entire arm instead of just the wrist can decrease the stress through this area. 

Low Back and Hip Pain
- Remember to switch the side that you carry your baby on frequently, to avoid low back pain. For example, if you are accustomed to carrying your child on your right, you could begin to have pain and aching on the left side of your low back. A well-fitting baby-carrier can help you hold your child in a more ergonomic fashion, and the bonus is now you have two hands free!
- When lifting your child from the crib, stroller, changing table, remember to maintain a nice, straight spine, while bending the knees. It’s funny how many of us might be avid exercisers prior to baby, and then post partum, proper weightlifting form goes out the window!
- Getting your child in and out of the car can aggravate your back as well if not done correctly. Rather than standing outside the vehicle to maneuver your child out, it’s better to sit inside the car and rotate your body toward the seat to remove the child. Remember when carrying a baby carrier to use good form too - hook your arm under the handle rather than just holding it with your hand. It will have your back!

Neck and Shoulder Pain 
- New parents spend an inordinate amount of time looking down at their child - while nursing or feeding, changing diaper.
- When placing your child in a high chair, remember to remove the tray to avoid having to lift your child higher and also having to contort yourself to be able to do so.

I love the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ OrthoInfo site as a resource, for these new mom issues and much, much more. In particular, these exercises for preventing back pain are great in the new mom. And when you’re cleared to do so by your doctor, start easing back into an exercise routine, incorporating the trio of strength, flexibility and cardio.

So for you new moms out there, congratulations (!!!), but also remember to take care of YOU. A healthy and pain-free mom allows you to be the best parent you can be.
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