If your back aches long after you’ve delivered your baby, you’re certainly not alone. Persistent postpartum back pain affects around half of the world’s mothers. This unwelcome aftereffect of the endurance event of pregnancy and childbirth can last for weeks or months.
As a busy mother, we understand that it can be tough to find time to take care of you. However, if you’re coping with back pain while caring for your baby our women’s health physio Caroline Sui is here help. Caroline is passionate about using her expertise and experience to help new mothers relieve postpartum back pain and address its causes.
Causes of back pain after birth
Some of pregnancy’s hormonal and musculoskeletal changes can continue to make a contribution. The hormones that loosened your ligaments to prepare them for giving birth may be a source of ongoing joint pain. Your hardworking, over stretched abdominals may need time and training to resume their normal role in supporting and stabilising your spine. Conversely, your tight hamstrings and hip flexors may also contribute to alignment and postural issues linked to back pain. On top of these pregnancy related postural challenges, you’re now lifting, bathing, feeding and carrying a surprisingly heavy little human.
3 ways to relieve back pain after pregnancy
Postpartum back pain will most likely decrease as your joints return to their pre-pregnant state and your abdominal and back muscles regain their tone. Exercising, being aware of your posture and taking time for some soothing self-care may help you rebuild your strength and relieve your back pain.
Exercise gently but regularly
Two types of exercise are important post pregnancy. Gentle aerobic exercise like walking or swimming can help rebuild your overall fitness and provide some quiet, restorative time out from your round the clock parenting schedule. Add strengthening exercises for your pelvic floor and the muscles supporting your back. As a physiotherapist with a special interest in women’s health, Caroline can customise an exercise program to help you regain the strength and tone that protects your posture and reduces both your current pain and the risk of future injury. If you had a caesarean section, we recommend waiting 6 weeks and consulting your doctor before to starting to exercise.
Watch your posture
Babies are heavier than they look. Protecting your posture when you pick up or feed your child or get them in and out of their car capsule may substantially reduce back pain.
When you begin to breastfeed it’s natural to be completely focused on ensuring that your baby latches on correctly. Check to see if you’re hunching or leaning over. This position puts pressure on your neck and upper back muscles. Keeping an upright back while breastfeeding helps you to avoid straining these and other muscles. Support your back by using a comfortable chair, and heaps of pillows. Try relieving shoulder and upper back pain by lying on your side to breastfeed. Elevating your legs by using a footstool may help reduce lower back pain.
Lifting and carrying
Using correct lifting techniques to ‘pick up and place’ your baby may help.
- lift your baby close to your body instead of reaching out to pick them up
- pick them up from a forward-facing position rather than a side or rotated one, which puts pressure on your spine
- kneel on the car seat when you move your baby into and out of their capsule instead of reaching in at arm’s length
- bend your knees and elbows don’t lock them, use your leg muscles to help lift your baby
A nanosecond spent checking and adjusting your posture whenever you lift your baby can be time well spent. Not carrying your baby on one hip and using a front carrier for walking and shopping may also help.
Postpartum tiredness can make it tough to recoup your energy and strength after giving birth. Finding time to rest and take care of yourself may speed up your recovery from common aches and pains including back pain. A massage or even a warm bath may ease backache. A session of dry needling may also assist in relieving pain. Eating your favourite healthy food can also increase your energy and reduce your weight. Both these things may help to counter back pain. Rest whenever you can and try to avoid standing for long periods. Sleep with pillows to support your back including one between your knees, which may help to relieve pressure on your spine.
Need relief from post-pregnancy back pain? Book an appointment with Caroline.