New Babies… a Pain in the Back for Parents?

ben and evan

Many new parents are unprepared for the physical challenges of holding and carrying an infant for several hours each day, resulting in back pain. This applies to BOTH Mom and Dad with the most common pain experienced between the shoulders and neck due to repetitive activities. For both men and women the main causative factors for this pain are lack of pre-baby fitness, poor posture, poor body mechanics and fatigue levels. Staying fit, getting sleep when you can, avoiding awkward or extreme postures, and holding babies close to your body all help to avoid these issues.

Ice can help reduce the pain in the short term, but you should see your Chiropractor as soon as possible after onset of the symptoms. The pain most often stems from misaligned vertebrae and ribs in your upper back and neck, putting tension through the area and causing muscles to spasm. These areas need to be adjusted back into proper postion for long term relief.

Some tips for new parents to minimize back strain:

Changing table: Use a changing table higher than your waist to minimize bending. For added support, put one foot up on a rail, stool, or bottom drawer while you bend.
Car seat: When you place a baby in a car seat, you often break every rule of back health by holding the child at arm’s length while bending and
twisting. Minimize the reach by putting the seat closer to the window. Brace yourself by placing one knee on the seat.
Carrying Car Seat (or the “bucket” as Dr. Jen calls it): Parents often make the mistake of carrying an infant in a car seat across a forearm. This
puts stress on the arm, shoulder and back. It’s much safer to put both hands on the handle of the seat and carry the seat in front of you, keeping your elbows bent.
Stroller: Kneel or squat when lifting your baby from a stroller. Use your legs and avoid rounding your back or twisting. Buy a stroller with a
handle long enough to reach without leaning over.
Crib: Lower the crib side; don’t bend over it. Get as close to the baby as possible, bend at the waist, and keep your back straight and firm as you lift.
Nursing: While breast-feeding, keep your back straight 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 and use a footstool to support your legs.
Carrying:  If you’re wearing a baby carrier or sling, make sure it’s not sitting more heavily on one side of your body. Be sure the carrier has
wide straps that can be adjusted to the right fit. Then make sure your baby is centered on your body.
The Diaper Bag:  When leaving the house, many parents not only carry their child, but also toss a bulging diaper bag over one shoulder,
putting stress on the neck, shoulder and back. Instead, wear the diaper bag strap across your body, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Also keep only those items in the diaper bag that you’ll actually need.