Be Aware New Parents, New Risk of Back Pain

New mothers (and fathers!) need to beware of the dangers of back pain when lifting and caring for their infants. Back pain can limit a person’s ability to care for their child properly. Consequently, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has created a list of safety tips which will help all new parents reduce the risk of experiencing back pain as the child grows and the load becomes heavier. Some of these tips are directed specifically to new mothers, but can be easily adapted for fathers.

  1. After being cleared by a doctor, begin daily exercises soon after delivery in order to strengthen muscle tone, especially in the abdominal and back muscles. Taking 10 minutes while the baby is napping to stretch and strengthen muscles through floor exercises will increase hip and back flexibility and strength. One word of caution: if you have given birth by Caesarean Section, wait until you get permission from your doctor before you begin exercising.
  2. Start eating a healthy diet right away and try to return to normal body weight within 6 months of giving birth.
  3. Do not lift your baby with outstretched arms. Bring them close to your chest and then lift. Avoid twisting your body as you lift.
  4. Bend at the knees and not the waist when picking a child up from the floor. Squatting down and lifting by tightening abdominal muscles and pushing up with the legs will help you avoid back strain.
  5. Remove a high chair tray before putting a baby in or taking them out.
  6. Lifting a baby out of a crib can be a little tricky, but bringing them close to you, bending at the knees, and then lifting will help ease back trouble. Also, be sure to buy a crib which is appropriate for your height.
  7. Try using a front pack to carry a baby when you are walking rather than a back carrier.
  8. Carrying a child on your hip overloads the back muscles and unevenly distributes weight. If you must carry on a hip, be sure to alternate hips regularly so that the strain is more evenly distributed.
  9. To avoid upper back pain from nursing, bring the baby to your breast rather than bending over them. Use a pillow or nursing pillow to support the baby.
  10. Do not stand outside the car when putting a child in a car seat. Place one foot on the floor of the car instead. Also, consider that a four-door vehicle is considerably easier to get a child into or out of than a two-door.