The start of the new year has brought plenty of new clients with their gift cards from the holidays full of new moms that are suffering from everything from acute to moderate chronic lower back pain.
My first observation is that at least half of these new moms are not getting enough time during the regular year for self-care. Besides the back pain the anxiety and stress of motherhood are probably significant contributors to the aches and pains felt in the body. We'll come back to that later. Each person clearly comments that they haven't kept up their personal fitness, yoga or self-care routines.
Along with that empty bag of self-care, many new mothers are full of a variety of aches and pains in their bodies. It can be very frustrating and disheartening to learn that the headaches, stiffness, and body aches that existed during those first nine months continue after giving birth. These pains can make the early days of being a new mom unpleasant and even excruciating. Those same pregnancy hormones that loosened your ligaments and joints in preparation for childbirth are still to blame. In addition to that, you are most likely suffering from strained back and abdominal muscles from pushing in the delivery room or pain from a C-section, the lifting of
of your baby, and possibly from holding your baby the wrong way.
Postpartum body aches and pains typically subside within about four to six weeks of giving birth. This recovery period may be longer for women who had a C-section birth. A few of my clients have reported feeling these pains as long as 16-18 month after the pregnancy and often reporting they reached the point they just can't take it any more and need some relief. I mean, motherhood is often filled with stress, anxiety, and lots of worrying. but minor aches and pains are very normal among postpartum women and often no cause for serious concern. While these conditions may make daily tasks with a new baby more difficult they are often not signs of a more serious medical condition.
Pain and stiffness of the hips, upper back, shoulders, neck and headaches are often very common among new moms. Postpartum joint pain is also common due to bodily changes and the secretions of various hormones. The extra pounds from pregnancy, performing the repetitive moments of caring for a new baby and sleep deprivation all contribute to this type of joint pain.
New moms should pay extra close attention to their posture while holding, feeding and carrying their babies because poor posture can make aches and pains worse. Postpartum women should also stay hydrated and practice healthy ways to get active with their new babies, such as going for walks with a stroller around the neighborhood or taking mom-and-baby yoga classes. Hot baths or showers, heating pads, and massage are also great options for postpartum women who continue to feel body pains after giving birth, can help alleviate symptoms of both headaches and body aches and pains. Changing your posture and building in lots of time for healing after delivering the baby. Building in that healing time might be one of the hardest things to do, but I can't emphasize enough the importance of a self-care plan.
A strategic strength training program, proper body mechanics, management of muscle spasm and stretching exercises can be the first steps to help alleviating the pain. You may truly benefit from seeing a licensed massage therapist and physical trainer who specialized in women's health and musculoskeletal recovery.
Here are a few simple ways to help alleviate your back pain:
1. Be conscious of how you bend and lift. Always use your legs, not your back when lifting the baby, stroller, laundry, etc.
2. Maintain proper posture. Don't hunch over when feeding or cuddling your baby.
3. Do gentle postpartum exercises, like pelvic floor muscle strengthening exercises.
4. Use a footrest to elevate your feet when sitting and holding your baby.
5. Try not to stand for long periods of time. Whenever possible, place one foot on a low stool when standing in order to take some pressure off your lower back.
6. Get a massage, either professionally or from your partner to work out muscle soreness.
If the pain becomes worse, doesn't go away or moves to different areas of the body, it may be time to seek additional medical attention. A trusted medical professional will be able to determine if you are suffering from a more critical condition. It is important for postpartum women to discuss their aches and pains with a doctor or their primary care health provider to determine a safe treatment plan.