Life as a new parent is tough enough. Between the feedings, nappy changes and endless rocking, it’s hard to remember to maintain your posture to prevent neck and back pain. Research from the British Chiropractic Association has found that over four out of every ten (43%) of parents who have ever suffered from back or neck pain, found their pain increased after having children. New mothers were particularly affected, with over twice as many women (57%) suffering fresh aches and pains since becoming a parent, as men (27%)¹.
Lifting Your Child:
- Whether lifting your child off of the floor or out of their crib, you should try to avoid lifting with your back and instead lift with you legs.
- When picking up your child from the floor, try to use a half-kneel lift. First, stand close to your child on the floor. While keeping your back straight, place one foot slightly forward of the other foot, and bend your hips and knees to lower yourself onto one knee. Once in the kneeling position, lift your child up with both arms and hold them close to your body. Engage your abdominal muscles, push up with your legs, and slowly return to the standing position. To place your child onto the floor, use the same half-kneel technique.
- If your child’s crib has a rail that lowers, you will want it in the lowest position when lifting your child out of the crib. Bend at your hips and knees to perform a mini squat, almost as if you were pretending to sit down in a chair while keeping your back straight. Then, pick up your child with both hands and bring them close to your body. Straighten your hips and knees and return to a standing position while keeping your abs tight. To place them in their crib, you’ll want to use the same mini squat technique.
Carrying/Holding Your Child:
- When holding or carrying your child, you should always hold him or her close to your body and balanced in the center of your body. On the arm that is supporting their bottom, turn your hand palm facing down. This will use larger and stronger muscles in your arm and shoulders. Keep the wrist neutral, and avoid extending it upwards. You can strengthen this position by holding onto your forearm with the opposite hand. Remember to switch sides regularly and try to avoid holding your child in one arm while balanced on your hip.
- Whether breast or bottle feeding, find a comfortable posture. Your arms should not be bearing the baby’s weight, so extra pillows or something like a ‘V’ pillow is a good idea.
- It is not uncommon for mums and dads to get neck strain from bending and twisting their necks to check that the baby is feeding properly. If this is a problem for you, install a mirror in front of your feeding chair or sit with a portable mirror in front of you, as this allows you to see what is happening, without putting a constant strain on your neck muscles. Alternating feeding sides is a good idea when breast and bottle feeding, as it evenly spreads any strain to you and baby.