Expert Advice: 5 Practical Posture Tips For New Moms
During the weeks and months following the birth of your baby, it is important to make sure you are taking care of your body.
Let’s be honest, this is a busy, demanding and exhausting time and sometimes our bodies can feel the strain, says eumom physiotherapist expert Aoibhin McGreal.
In my clinic, I see lots of new moms with neck and back pain, which is normally due to a combination of poor posture and technique for daily baby tasks and weak post-baby core muscles.
Posture tips: feeding your baby
Whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, make sure you sit tall, preferably in an armchair with your elbows supported so that your arms and shoulders can relax. Use a feeding pillow under baby so you don’t have to bend forward to reach him. A footstool under your feet and a small roll at the small of your back will keep your back supported.
This may sound like a lot of effort, but once you set up your feeding area, it’s ready for every feed and it will prevent you from slouching on the couch and putting strain on your neck, shoulders and back.
Posture tips: changing baby’s nappy
Try to change nappies on a changing table. If you don’t have a changing table, you can use a bed but make sure to kneel in front of the bed as this is far better for your back than standing and bending forward.
When caring for your baby, avoid postures where you are bending forward repeatedly, as this commonly causes back pain.
Posture tips: lifting and carrying your baby
Avoid any unnecessary lifting and take smaller loads. Car seats are particularly heavy and awkward, so as much as possible try to avoid carrying them. If you have a toddler, try to carry him directly in front of you, facing you. Carrying children on one hip (although handy!) is a common cause of pain and muscle imbalance. Remember to bend your knees and keep your back straight when lifting – try to make your leg muscles do the work.
Posture tips: getting in and out of bed
If you notice a gap in your tummy muscles that does not gradually close following the birth of your baby, you may have a condition called diastasis rectus abdominus. If this gap has not closed six weeks after delivery, it is unlikely to heal on its own and so it would be advisable to arrange an assessment with a chartered physiotherapist in women’s health and continence.
To prevent putting pressure on your back and on your abdominals in those early weeks, when getting out of bed, bend both knees, press them together and roll over onto your side before sitting up. Do the same in reverse to lie down.
Don’t ignore it
If you have pain or notice any bladder or bowel problems following the birth of your baby, you should get it checked out. In most cases, some straightforward advice and treatment from a chartered physiotherapist who specialises in women’s health will have you back to normal in no time.
In France, all new moms attend a women’s health physio in the weeks after delivery to ensure that everything is returning to normal and that they are able to do their pelvic floor exercises. I agree that all moms should be able to avail of this, which is why I developed the Postnatal Physiotherapy Check Up which includes assessment of the spine and pelvis, the pelvic floor for weakness and imbalance, and the abdominal muscles for the presence of “mummy tummy” or diastasis.
Did you suffer from posture trouble after the birth of your child? Do you have a question for our physio expert Aoibhin?