Most new mothers are so pre-occupied with their new little poop factories that they forget to worry about themselves. Many women end up with back pain after giving birth and this is due to new physical demands of being a mother. The most physically demanding task is lifting and carrying the baby. A new mother can lift her 7-10lb baby up to 50 times per day. This weight increases to approximately 17-20lbs by one year of age. It is important for mothers (and fathers) to maintain proper postures when dealing with their screaming bundle of joy. This also applies for breastfeeding.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons suggests the following 10 ways for new mothers to prevent back pain after birth.
- Start exercising immediately after delivery to rebuild ab and back muscles. Make sure to stretch as well. Wait 6 weeks after a C-Section.
- Get back to your original weight within 6 weeks.
- Make sure to lift the baby like a box or package – close to the body and avoid twisting.
- Bend at your knees, not at your waist, to pick the baby up from the floor.
- Remove the highchair tray when placing the baby in/out of it.
- Don’t bend over the crib to pick up the baby, drop the crib siderail.
- Use a front-pack to carry the baby around.
- Don’t carry the baby on your hip.
- Make sure to bring the baby to the breast when nursing. Don’t bring the breast to the baby. Also, sit in an upright chair, not a soft couch.
- Get a 4-door car to avoid awkward positions when transferring the baby to the car seat.
Focusing specifically on Breastfeeding:
There are 4 primary positions for breastfeeding.
- Cross Cradle
This position is great for beginner breastfeeding mothers and those with small babies.
This position works best for those who are learning to breastfeed, small babies, large breasts, flat or sore nipples, or C-Section.
This is the position that is used once mothers are comfortable with breastfeeding.
This position is good for mothers who had C-Sections, large breasts, pain with sitting, or if you just want to rest while nursing.
Any of these positions, if performed properly, should keep the mother’s back safe and prevent injury or fatigue. It is more important to adhere to the following recommendations, regardless of position.
• Make sure your arms and back are well supported. Sit in a straight back chair, use pillows behind the back, or under the arms.
• Try using a pillow under the baby. This will help bring the baby to the breast without forcing the mother to lean forward.
• Mother and baby should be chest to chest. Keep the baby on their side, except in the football position, where the baby is on their back.
• The baby’s mouth should be facing the nipple. Bring the baby to the nipple, don’t lean over or push the nipple into the baby’s mouth.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Preventing Back Pain: Tips for New Moms.” . February, 2002.
Toronto Public Health Handout. “Breastfeeding Your Baby.” November, 2004.