Pregnancy is a wonderful, joyful time for many expectant mothers, but it can be accompanied by a slew of physical discomforts: heartburn, headaches, morning sickness, fatigue and insomnia to name a few.

Pregnancy also strains the back, neck and hips of expectant mothers by shifting their centre of gravity. New moms may think that once their bundle of joy has arrived, the various aches and pains will disappear, too. However, often that’s not the case.

New moms can be prone to various repetitive strain injuries as a result of carrying and nursing a new baby. Here are some of the most common new mother aches and pains and what you can do about them.

New Mom Backaches

New moms can develop a sore back from bending to pick up their baby, leaning over a crib to calm and settle their baby and leaning into a car to place and secure an infant car seat. Over time, this can develop into a repetitive strain injury.

Preventing Postpartum Backaches and Pain

You can prevent postpartum back strain by:

  • Checking and correcting your posture when performing tasks that require using your back, such as lifting and carrying.
  • Make sure your feet are flat on the floor and shoulder width apart when lifting.
  • When changing direction, move your feet with your body instead of twisting your spine so that you keep your back straight and in line with your hips and knees.
  • Lift by bending your knees and hips instead of your back.
  • Do regular exercises, such as Pilates, to strengthen your core and abdominal muscles to reduce the pressure on your back.

Neck Pain From Breastfeeding

Nursing mothers experience neck pain most often because of poor posture during breastfeeding. They assume awkward positions of leaning forward and looking down while sitting. When they do this for half an hour every few hours, they put a lot of strain on the neck and surrounding muscles in the shoulders and back. It can even give new moms headaches.

Preventing Nursing Mother’s Neck

Prevent nursing mother’s neck by:

  • Setting up a feeding station in a comfortable chair.
  • Use a pillow to support the arm holding the baby and another pillow behind your low back.
  • Avoid slouching.
  • Do some gentle neck stretches after each feeding.

Mother’s Wrist and Mommy’s Thumb

An empty infant car seat has a mass of four to five kilograms. Carrying so much weight strains the wrists and elbows, and, over time, can cause repetitive strain injuries.

A new mom can also develop Mother’s wrist or Mommy’s thumb by overflexing the wrist and thumb from carrying the baby. Not only does carrying the baby eventually become painful, but so do other activities, such as turning door knobs and opening jars.

Preventing Lower Arm Strains

To prevent straining the lower arms:

  • Switch sides regularly when carrying your baby. Alternatively, use a front or back carrier to distribute your baby’s weight evenly on your back and shoulders.
  • Take regular breaks to stretch your neck, back, arms and wrists.
  • To lift an infant car seat out of the car, place both hands on the handle and keep your elbows bent.
  • Carry an infant car seat in front of you with both arms to distribute its weight.
  • If necessary, wear a splint on your wrist and thumb to alleviate pain.

Pelvic Pain and/or Incontinence

Women usually carry a baby on the hip that’s opposite their dominant hand. When you carry your baby on one side, your pelvis can shift, which can cause pelvic and hip pain and sometimes lead to an uneven gait. In addition, some new moms experience incontinence due to pelvic floor weakness caused by pregnancy and delivery.

Preventing Pelvic Pain and/or Incontinence

  • To prevent pelvic pain, switch sides regularly when you carry your baby.
  • To treat incontinence, see a pelvic floor physiotherapist to assess incontinence, as well as pelvic pain.

How Physiotherapy Can Help New Moms

In addition to these helpful tips, physiotherapists can recommend exercises for treating and preventing all these repetitive strain injuries that often are just part and parcel of being a new mom. A physiotherapist can provide education on new mother aches and pains, as well as a referral to a pelvic floor specialist.

New motherhood is an amazing experience. Make sure that you’re also looking after yourself so you can give your new baby the best possible care.

Experiencing New Mother Aches and Pains?