Post-partum neck and back pain-Why is it SO common?
Once the baby comes into this world all that mothers (and fathers) want to do is hold them, feed them and play with them. Nothing compares to holding that baby close, looking in their eyes and smelling that sweet baby smell (between the poopy and spit up smells there’s nothing like a clean baby smell!) All this rounding in your neck and back results in pain. Sometimes post-partum moms have headaches and jaw pain that is a result of these poor postures. Why is this SO common?
Believe it or not, those wacky hormones (Relaxin) are still to blame. Hormones create the laxity that was necessary in your ligaments and joints during pregnancy, allowing the uterus to grow, and they are still responsible for the laxity in your ligaments post-partum. Abdominal wall muscles are also stretched and possibly separated (Diastasis Rectus Abdominus) during pregnancy which leads to poor posture and weakness. Post-partum women are healing from cesarean scars, episiotomies and/or vaginal tears that perpetuate slouched postures and discomfort with sitting.
What can we do about it?
· Feeding Baby
o Supporting the baby on a pillow (Boppy or other) while feeding is step 1
o Lumbar support behind your low back is step 2
o Post feeding stretches is step 3
§ Simple neck stretches for the pecs, upper trapezius, levator scapula, scalenes and rhomboids are necessary
· Lifting Baby
o Proper body mechanics with lifting the baby from the floor, crib or car seat is extremely important to protect you neck and back
§ Bend at the knees, hinge at the hips, brace your abdominals, exhale as you lift
· Carrying Baby
o Hold the baby centrally on your body as often as you can (Sometimes this is hard when doing something else with one hand as all multi-tasking moms do!)
o If you must hold the baby on your hip then you should shift right to left and be symmetrical about how long you hold the baby on each side
o Take breaks with wearing baby carriers every 30 minutes and stretch your low back and neck out (forward folds to the floor, downward dog stretches, neck extension stretches)
· Get help
o Benefits of seeing a physical therapist
§ Alignment in your spine and pelvis
§ Providing a safe and effective exercise program to increase strength in your hips, abdominals, back and pelvic floor
§ Behavioral training (hydration, sleep, posture)
§ Body mechanics training (how to lift, bend, carry, sit, stand, walk)
§ Hands on body work-Ahhh finally someone can work out those tender points and knots and stretch those tight muscles!
You deserve to get back to your pre-partum self with the support and expertise of a professional to ensure you are safe!