Over the past few years I have started seeing an increase in numbers of new moms needing treatment for various issues. As a new mom myself (I have a 7 month old and 2 ½ year old), I have also experienced some of these same aches and pains and constantly have to remind myself to do the same things I advise my clients.
Here are a few of the many issues we see:
1. Low back and hip pain Moms (and dads) tend to be busy, and multi-tasking becomes second nature. We hold our babies on our hips as we prepare dinner, clean the house, do laundry, or change another diaper all with our other hand. We carefully balance our little ones on our hip to free up our dominant side, and the next thing we know, our back hurts! Or, we contort our bodies in awkward positions to put our kids in and out of cribs, car seats, strollers. These can lead to repetitive strain injuries. What can start as a little tightness or ache, can lead to a full-blown back injury.
2. Neck and shoulder pain Nursing can also cause discomfort. With my first, I had a difficult time getting my baby to latch properly and so I would end up in terrible postures for long periods of time trying to crane my neck and adjust my body to support and feed her. It caused headaches, neck pain, shoulder and back tightness. As a physiotherapist, I am well-versed in stretching and posture, but as a mom, I was just like anyone else, trying anything and everything to make it work, even at the cost of sustaining awkward, uncomfortable positions for long periods of time.
3. Wrist and thumb pain Another common injury is de Quervain’s tenosynovitis (irritation of the tendons around the thumb and wrist). This injury has earned the name “Mother’s Wrist” or “Mommy’s Thumb”, often due to the way we hold our babies with our wrists ‘cocked up’. The overextending of our wrist and/or the repetitive flexing of our thumb causes irritation, pain, and swelling around the wrist and thumb. Eventually tasks such as opening jars, turning door knobs, and lifting/carrying our little ones can become quite difficult.
4. Pelvic floor pain/discomfort or incontinence Speak to your physiotherapist about your pelvic floor. The pelvic floor weakens during pregnancy and sometimes during delivery. This can often lead to incontinence and pelvic discomfort. Physio can help! Whether through education, exercises, or a referral to a pelvic floor specialist.
Here are a few helpful tips:
- Monitoring and correcting posture while doing tasks such as carrying a car seat, picking up children…
- Setting up a ‘breast-feeding’ station with pillows, stool, etc. to help keep you in a comfortable position
- Switching sides that you tend to carry your child on (this is hard, but doable!), OR wearing a carrier on front or back to distribute weight more evenly
- Wearing a splint if necessary for the wrist/thumb
- Taking little stretch breaks - learn a few simple stretches for the neck, back, forearms/wrists to help combat tight muscles
- Booking in with a pelvic floor physiotherapist to fully assess incontinence issues or pelvic/pubic pain
Being more aware of these things is helpful, and learning how to correct and treat it is imperative. Education on positioning, posture, and stretches can be essential in treating and preventing many of these issues.
I love treating new moms, babies and kids too! So come visit us anytime for an assessment and treatment plan to help you be in the best condition possible to care for your little ones.