In general, we put a lot of focus on the changes a new mother’s body goes through in pregnancy, but maybe not so much post-partum. We barely consider the new physical demands on a new father- but any new parent lives differently to before. As a result, any of us can all develop aches and pains.
Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding
One of the biggest causes of upper back aches and pains we see in new mums is down to breastfeeding. Whether feeding a tiny new baby and rounding your shoulders to keep them supported, or wrangling a bigger and older baby, your upper back is in demand. The position you adopt is unlikely to be symmetrical, and if you find yourself favouring one side over the other, this asymmetry may develop into a new posture.
Stiffness in the upper back can be caused by staying in one slightly hunched position. We see it a lot in people who work at a desk. Often, this stiffness is asymptomatic locally, but they may have come in because of aches in the neck or lower back. If you can keep your upper back moving well, you can spread the load through the whole spine, and may be able to avoid an episode of lower back pain.
Not to be forgotten, bottle feeding can cause some awkward positions too. Sometimes babies decide that they only want to be fed while lying flat, or sitting bolt upright. This might require your arm to be in a less-than-ideal position. You might not be in the position for long, but that might be all it takes for the muscles around the shoulder or elbow to tighten up. If you can’t find a more comfortable position that baby will accept, we can help offer advice alongside physical treatment.
Like sitting at a desk all day will almost always cause some discomfort, holding a baby on one hip for too long will lead to aches and pains too.
As baby gets older and develops their own balance, you might find that you can get more stuff done while holding them if you just use one arm. Make sure when you’re carrying baby that your wrist is not taking the strain. If you repeatedly find yourself putting baby down and struggling to get your wrist back to a neutral position without pain, something needs to change. Your osteopath can help if you’ve already started developing aches and pains in the wrist or forearm.
If you have a feeling you’ll be carrying baby for a while, maybe try a sling or carrier. There are countless different designs, from wraps to structured carriers. If there is a sling library close to you, this might be the most cost-effective way for you to find the right style for you.
Previously seen as a “bad habit”, bedsharing is now being recognised as a solution to exhaustion for some families. Public Health England recognises the safe sleep 7 guidelines for safe bedsharing. Even if you don’t intend for baby to end up in your bed, it’s worth reading the guidance. Roughly 60-75% of families share at least some of the time, whether they intended to or not. Knowing you have another option if you find yourself accidentally falling asleep when feeding sitting in bed is a safety net worth having.
Although bed sharing may diminish the need to get up for a crying baby, it’s not necessarily without its difficulties. The “cuddle curl” is a common position for bedsharing mothers. It’s a loose foetal position facing the baby, with the bottom arm extended or under the pillow. Staying in one position all night can be uncomfortable, and often mums complain about pain in that bottom arm. There might be small changes you can make to your set up, or you might just need a bit of help. Improving mobility in the shoulder or upper back might just give you the adaptability you need.
If any of these aches and pains resonate with you, you can make an appointment via our website.