Then there’s the added factor of your unstable pelvis thanks to the excessive amounts of hormones, relaxin and elastin to widen it to deliver your baby. These hormones cause the ligaments to become lax. Ligaments are strong bands of fibrous tissue that provide support to the bones and link one bone to another in and around joints. Looser ligaments mean less support to bones and muscles.
The unstable pelvis has a ‘domino’ effect as combined with the after effects of the relaxin it puts stress on the anterior cruciate ligaments (major ligament of the knee) to balance the body and causes instability at the knee joint.
So it is with no doubt that a New mum may experience lower back pain, hip issues and knee pain post pregnancy. Being careful how you lift and carry your baby can avoid injuries or straining any already weakened muscles.
Balancing your baby on your hip is the worse thing you can do! I see mums carry their babies like this all the time – it’s the biggest factor that can lead to lower back and hip pain. It’s time to adjust the way you move your body, paying attention to your body mechanics when carrying your baby (and paraphernalia!) and respecting your pelvis! Here are some tips for saving your body and relieving your pains…
Balancing your baby on your hip
Stand in correct posture with your spine in neutral and the navel slightly drawn in. Hold the baby with one arm resting just under his bottom and the other hand on the back of his head, so his chin is just resting on your shoulder. Avoid leaning back.
Bending and lifting baby from the bath, cot or the floor
- Draw navel to spine and bend your knees
- Squat down, keeping body weight into the arch of your feet, using your lower leg muscles, thighs and gluts (bottom) to lower your down and pick baby up, bringing them in close to you.
- Keep knees aligned with ankles (avoid pushing knees over toes)
- Use your legs to stand back up
- Choose a baby bath that rests in the main bath. Best to fill this up in situ. Alternatively I bought a lightweight bath chair that I put in the bath first, then placed Luca in afterwards. This avoids you lifting and lowering a heavy weight of water.
- Kneel alongside the bath to bath baby or on a small stool with towel under your knees so that you are not stooping over the bath.
- Change baby on your bed and kneel next to the bed with a cushion under your knees to protect your knees
- Place the equipment in front of you or to the side to prevent twisting behind you
- Place the changing mat on a surface or table that is at a height just above your waist to avoid stooping
- Instead of carrying the baby for a length of time, use a baby sling or carrier positioned high to avoid leaning backwards.
- These are a great way to balance the weight of the baby and prevent shoulder and lower back ache. Babies also love being close to you and hearing your heart rate as it mimics when they were inside you.
- It’s also great if you need to wander around the house and get some jobs done.
- Choose one that has a back-saving design and can be adjusted as the baby gets bigger.
- Practice good posture as you walk with the sling – maintaining the neutral spine position
Feeding Baby (in day)
- Avoid at all costs the hunchback of Notre Dame syndrome when you bottle or breast feed. Your shoulders will ache and it will place strain on your neck muscles.
- Place a cushion between the small of your lower back and the back of an upright chair. Avoid any low or far back sofas or chairs where you would slump.
- Place your feet on a pile of magazines or books or small footstool to raise your knees so they are level with hips
- Have a pillow or cushion on your lap to raise your baby and bring him closer to you
Feeding baby (at night when you are half asleep and not thinking about how you sit!)
- Sit upright as you can, and place the pillow or cushion behind your lower back
- Draw your shoulders down and back
- Breath in, feeling your stomach swell slightly as it fills with air
- Breath out and draw your navel to spine
- Try to look down just occasionally to check on baby feeding and then look up and forwards (this means that you don’t strain your neck by continuously hanging the head down).