Guest post by Dr. Sabrina Chen-See, Vancouver’s Pediatric & Family Wellness Chiropractor
The baby is born… no more carrying the heavy load 24/7! The labour’s done and the hard work is over… or is it?
Caring for a baby is rewarding – and hard work. Like other kinds of work that require lifting, bending, long periods of sitting, and repetitive motions, it can be harmful to your body. Try these simple tips to prevent problems before they begin.
- When holding and carrying the baby, alternate between the right and left arms. Uneven use can lead to overuse muscle strain, even carpal tunnel syndrome. If possible, learn to be ambidextrous. This will also come in handy when breastfeeding.
- When using baby carriers (front, back or sling), variety is key to reducing muscle fatigue. Choose carrier(s) with wide, padded straps, and a design to spread the weight over larger areas.
- When breastfeeding, use pillows to bring the baby’s head up to your breast; do not bend over to bring your breast to the baby’s mouth. Constant bending over causes upper back, shoulder and neck stiffness and pain.
- Put one foot on a box or low shelf when you stand and change diapers. This causes your pelvis to tilt in a way that decreases pelvic fatigue.
- Keep work surfaces at a comfortable height. Put something under the legs of the changing table, for instance, to raise it if you’re tall.
- Don’t bend from the waist when you lift the child. Squat with your back straight, keep the child close to you, and use your leg muscles to rise.
- Don’t bend over into the car when putting your child in the car seat. Sit sideways on the seat with the child on your lap, then rotate to face front and put the child in the seat.
- Carry the baby as little as possible while in the car seat “carrier”. It is too heavy for most women (and men) and is not ergonomic in design. Lifting the baby out of the car seat and using a sling or cloth carrier is much easier on your shoulders and back.
- Make sure your feet touch the floor and your back is supported when you sit holding your child. Keep your knees at the same height as your hips or slightly higher.
- Adjust stroller handles so you’re not bending over when you push.
- When loading a stroller or groceries in the car trunk, rest one knee on the bumper and keep the load close to your body.
Don’t let neck, back, joint or muscle problems turn parenthood into a pain. Seek professional help from a chiropractor early on, before they become worse.