Orthopaedic surgeons offer advice to reduce the risks of back pain after delivery
ROSEMONT, Ill. — There are many enjoyable life experiences that accompany motherhood, but back pain isn’t one of them. Instead, this is a common complaint of new mothers due to the added task of lifting and carrying an infant or toddler on a daily basis.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) encourages mothers to be aware of back pain and consider safety tips which can help to reduce the risks of this condition.
“Back pain presents a problem to many mothers caring for their babies,” said orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Sabrina Strickland, MD. “Initially, mothers may start off lifting their child of seven to 10 pounds, numerous times per day. Slowly the weight load increases as the child grows, and if the proper lifting techniques aren’t used, this can lead to back strain.”
AAOS BACK PAIN PREVENTION TIPS
Ten ways that new mothers can help to reduce their risk of injury and back pain. Many of these tips also work well with new fathers:
- Once cleared by your doctor, begin exercising soon after delivery to restore muscle tone to the abdominal and back muscles. While the baby is napping, take 10 minutes to do stretching and strengthening exercises on the floor each day. This will help restore hip and back flexibility and strength.
- Try to return to your normal weight within six months after giving birth, but start eating a healthy diet immediately.
- Do not lift the baby with outstretched arms. Instead bring the baby close to your chest and then lift. Avoid twisting your body.
- To pick up a child from the floor, bend at your knees, not at your waist. Squat down, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your legs.
- Remove the high chair tray when you are trying to put the baby in or take the baby out of the high chair.
- When lifting a baby out of the crib, bringing the child close to you while slightly bending your knees can reduce back strain. When getting a new crib, remember choosing one that is appropriately sized for your height will make lifting your infant easier.
- Consider using a "front pack" to carry the baby when you are walking.
- Do not carry a child on your hip; this overloads the back muscles and if you must, alternate sides.
- To avoid upper back pain from nursing, bring the baby to your breast, rather than bending over the baby. While you are nursing, use a pillow or a specially designed nursing pillow to elevate the baby.
- Do not stand outside the car to place the child in the car seat. Instead, place one foot in the car on the floor as you place the baby into the car seat. When purchasing a car, remember that a four-door vehicle will make it easier to place the child in a car seat.
Preventing back pain in new moms
Orthopaedic surgeons restore mobility and reduce pain; they help people get back to work and to independent, productive lives. Visit ANationInMotion.org to read successful orthopaedic stories.
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About the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons