How to Deal With Back Pain Resulting From Holding Your Baby

New parents expect sleepless nights and frequent diaper changes, but many are unprepared for the physical challenges of holding and carrying an infant for several hours each day. Back pain is a common complaint of new mothers and fathers. There are steps you can take to relieve your pain, improve your body mechanics and reduce future back problems associated with carrying your baby.

Mother holding her baby. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Pain Relief

Step 1

Mild or moderate back pain may respond favorably to over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Talk with your doctor if your pain does not improve; prescription-strength pain relievers or muscle relaxants may be appropriate in some cases. Inform your doctor if you are breastfeeding so she can prescribe a medication that is safe for your baby.

Step 2

Ice or heat packs can help reduce back pain. Soaking in a hot bath may also provide relief. If you had a cesarean section birth, make sure your doctor has given you the go-ahead to resume tub baths.

Step 3

For back pain caused by sore or overworked muscles, a massage may provide quick relief. At the same time, it offers a good way for a new parent to unwind.

Rest

Step 1

Don't try to return to normal activity too quickly after your baby is born. It isn't easy to find time to rest when you are caring for an infant. A little self-care, however, can help your household run more smoothly. Women should remember that shifting hormone levels in late pregnancy cause ligaments and joints to relax; these areas remain more flexible even in the weeks after birth and are more prone to injury.

Step 2

Ask family and friends for help. A cesarean section is major abdominal surgery and women who have experienced this type of birth need time to recover. Your doctor will follow your progress in the postpartum period. You should wait for approximately six weeks after a cesarean section before gradually returning to your usual exercise.

Step 3

Try to avoid standing for long periods because this puts extra pressure on your back. If you need to stand, rest one foot on a raised surface such as a stool. Use a footstool to elevate your feet while sitting.

Practice Good Body Mechanics

Step 1

Use proper body mechanics when lifting your baby and other objects. The proper technique is to use your legs instead of your back. Do not bend from the waist. Instead, squat down by bending your knees and use your legs to lift. You may be lifting many heavy, unfamiliar objects, such as car seats and strollers. Move slowly and pay attention to your lifting technique to avoid injury.

Step 2

Keep your back straight while breastfeeding and raise your baby to the breast. Do not lean over to bring the breast down to your baby. Sit in a chair with a firm back and use pillows to aid in proper positioning. This may take some time to learn; a lactation consultant can help you assess discomfort and make recommendations for different feeding positions.

Step 3

Bring your baby close to your chest before lifting. Back injuries can occur if you pick him up with your arms outstretched or while twisting or turning to the side.

Step 4

Kneel in front of your child while you buckle her into the car seat. You will be in an awkward position if you try to buckle the seat while standing outside the car. This twisting motion can contribute to back discomfort.

Exercise

Step 1

An exercise program can help you build the muscles that support your back. Get your doctor's permission before beginning any new exercise regimen. Start with gentle exercises, such as pelvic tilts and a few minutes of mild stretching.

Step 2

Exercises to rebuild muscles to improve your posture and help you avoid back pain. Your abdominal muscles provide critical support to your spine back muscles. During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles may weaken or separate. In a cesarean birth, an incision is made through the muscle layers of the abdomen.

Step 3

Try to return to your prepregnancy weight soon after your child is born. People who are overweight tend to experience more frequent back pain and are at a higher risk for a variety of health problems. Ask your obstetrician or family doctor for advice on an eating plan. If you are breastfeeding, you'll need to consume more calories daily than you did before you became pregnant.

Things You'll Need

  • Pain relievers

  • Ice pack

  • Hot pack or warm bath

  • Foot stool

  • Firm seating

  • Pillows

Tip

A front-pack style carrier is helpful while walking or accomplishing tasks around the house. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and observe good body mechanics. A carrier is a better alternative than carrying your baby on one hip, which strains your lower back muscles.

Warning

Contact your doctor if your back pain does not respond to self-care measures within 72 hours, or if your pain becomes severe, especially at night or when you lie down. Back pain accompanied by fever, numbness, tingling, bowel or bladder problems, pain or throbbing in the chest should be evaluated by a doctor.

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