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NEW MOTHERHOOD … A RECIPE FOR BACK PAIN?

     Home  >  Articles  > Women's Health
by Dr. Todd Sinett

Related: back problems, Breastfeeding, Lactation, Birth, Newborns, strollers, Inadequate Sleep, Stress,


As someone who makes his living helping people rid themselves of back problems, I have found that certain people tend to suffer from back pain more than others.One pattern I see often is new mothers experiencing pain in the neck and back.

It’s rare that one single factor can lead to back pain, but because this pattern among new mothers is so prevalent, I decided to research more about why being a new mother seems to predispose women to back and neck pain. Here are eight factors I discovered — and solutions to each.

Breastfeeding

When a mother breastfeeds, she tends to be in a slouched position, hunched forward with her head down.  Considering the length of time each feeding takes and how often infants need to feed, new moms spend a lot of time this way.

Solution: Be aware of your posture while breastfeeding, make a conscious effort to sit up straight, and use specially designed breastfeeding pillows and supportive chairs to help avoid the slouch.

Lactation

It is not uncommon for a woman’s breasts to increase several sizes while lactating.  This change means more weight pulling on the front of her body, which can lead to postural changes and imbalances.

Solution: Do backward spine stretches each day to alleviate the forward pull, and get fitted to find your new bra size for the right proper of support.

Stroller Height

Newborns spend a good amount of time in their strollers, which means new moms spend a good amount of their time pushing a stroller!  It is important that the strollers are adjusted to be ergonomically correct.  A stroller handle that is too low will put undue pressure on the neck, mid-back, and shoulders.

Solution: Find a stroller that is the right height for you and that has adjustable handles. When pushing the stroller, your arms should be slightly bent, not fully extended.

Forward Carriers

There are many carriers that allow your baby to sit in a pouch, knapsack, or sling that attaches to your chest.  While these carriers allow the person carrying them to be hands-free, they can place pressure on the mid-back and neck. 

Solution: Use front carriers (with newborns) for shorter periods of time, and a child-carrying backpack for longer periods.  Carrying the baby on your back will be more comfortable, create less forward pull, and thus lead to less back pain.

Inadequate Sleep

Lack of sleep is a natural part of having a new baby, but with this fatigue comes increased susceptibility to back pain.  When you lose sleep, your muscles stay over-contracted for too long and the result is often painful back spasms.

Solution: Schedule naps whenever you can and don’t be afraid to enlist the assistance of friends and family to babysit so you can catch a few winks.

Balanced Diet

Most new mother’s feel like they just don’t have time to eat regular meals and end up grabbing the first thing they see and eating it quickly.  There is a direct correlation between what you eat and drink and back pain.

Solution:  Don’t forget that you need proper foods, too!  New mothers often fight their battles with fatigue by grazing on sugary foods and caffeinated beverages.The reality is, caffeine and sugar will leave you feeling drained, cause the muscles to contract, and may result in back spasms.

Stress

Stress is the number one factor for back pain, and being responsible for a new life can be incredible stressful and even scary. 

Solution:  Join a new mother support group or a mommy-and-me fitness class.  Having other new moms with whom to share your fears, experiences, and tips offers a lot of support. If you can’t take care of yourself, it is very difficult to take care of anyone else.

Birth

As every new mom knows, giving birth is a very taxing process.  What many don’t realize is that the actual process of giving birth can cause structural imbalances in a new mother’s body.  Your body underwent amazing changes through the nine months of pregnancy and birth, and it takes at least that long to feel exactly like you did pre-pregnancy.

Solution:  See a chiropractor, physical therapist, or massage therapist — experts in treating pain caused by the structural changes of pregnancy and labor. With the help of these professionals, you can strengthen your body the right way and prevent unnecessary back and neck pain.

DR. TODD SINETT, chiropractor and bestselling author of “The Truth About Back Pain,” aims to educate others about how to cure and prevent chronic back pain.Steering away from doctors in his field, Dr. Sinett believes that by focusing on the whole body and the three levels of the core — structural, chemical and emotional — one can improve one’s overall health.


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