Experiencing any form of back pain is absolutely NO FUN. Then if you layer that on top of becoming a New Mom – you are on the verge of overwhelm.
Simply the thought of back pain causes stress, not to mention if you’re also learning how to nurse for the very first time.
I have been through my share of back pain. Back in 1988 I broke my back in a car accident, leaving me with a compressed vertebrea, a cracked one, and two inches shorter in height. Since then, I have given birth to my two amazing kids and have experienced the trials and tribulations of new mom back pain including: bad posture, muscular overcompensation, and all sorts of other nonsense, all in the name of getting my kids to sleep and eat.
Here is the thing, the body is actually very simple.
Bones are aligned with the help of muscles. These muscles must work as a team in order to keep the bones exactly where they are supposed to be. The minute something slides off in a wrong direction, the wrong muscles engage, causing pain in all sorta of places.
For the back, here is how I like to describe it, this will sound weird at first but read the whole thing, it will make sense at the end. Think of your pelvis like a heart, and at the V of the heart sits your sacrum or “sitz bone”. From the sacrum going up, you have a tower of building blocks intertwined with jelly donuts. The blocks have to sit perfectly on each donut to keep the jelly inside.
“Are you with me?”
Next, from the downward curve of the heart, sits your femur (in other words, the bone of your thigh). The bone sits inside, what is called, a ball and socket joint. This has a very specific placement in the pelvis. Even the smallest of misalignments, such as carrying a baby only on one side, can make the building blocks sit crooked on the jelly donut. This pushes the jelly to one side, and can easily press on a nerve. Not to mention, that then your sacrum isn’t perfectly centered in the V of the heart and your femur isn’t perfectly set in the ball and socket joint. All of these misalignments cause other muscle to tighten up the wrong way which can lead to more discomfort and PAIN.
Did this make sense?
I realize that was a mouthful, but it’s the best way to describe this so that you can see what’s happening. Let’s take your favorite rocking /nursing chair. You have to admit, slouching feels so great at the time when you’re exhausted and just want your kid to eat. Remember those building blocks and donuts, every time you continue the same pattern, the body compensates and with time the pain will set in.
Oh WAIT, one more small detail….
Your Abdominals. You see, the abdominals are the only muscle in the body that stretches, “it would be really hard to carry a baby under a six-pack, so this muscle has to stretch”. For this reason, as soon as we give birth, we should be maximizing our posture and pulling that muscle inward so it stays there. Remember the blocks and the jelly donut? You see, the main muscle that keeps the blocks and donuts perfectly aligned are…the abdominals. If you are slouched, allowing the abdominals to push out and relax, the blocks won’t stay neatly lined up for long.
What’s the resolve?
Stretching, this is a great way to realign the muscles and fill them up with oxygen and nutrients for the day ahead. Creating habits of stretching both morning and night can loosen up the body. This makes it easier to handle all of the “mom postures” your about to place yourself in.
One of the best ways to get your back warmed up and ready for the days events, is to stretch even before your feet touch the ground.
From the Bed:
1. Before you even sit up in bed, pull both knees into the chest. This will allow the back to start loosening up for the day ahead. Hold this for about 20 seconds.
2. Next cross one foot on the knee and pull the legs towards the chest. This loosens up the hip joint, and in turn the lower back as well. Hold each leg in this position 20 seconds.
3. Extend both legs up to the sky and pull them towards the chest. Try to keep the tail bone on the bed while you pull the legs towards the torso. This will allow for a full stretch through the hamstrings. Hold for 10 seconds.
From the Vanity:
1. Take it to the bathroom vanity. Grab the edge of the bathroom sink with both hands, set your feet a couple of feet away, and allow the hips to stretch all the way back. You will feel this through your shoulders, back, hips, and hamstrings. Hold for 20 seconds, (anytime you feel stiff, this is a great “go to” stretch that you can do just about anywhere).
2. For an added stretch, pull both sets of toes up in the air. Your goal is to maintain the body weight only on the heels of the feet, while extending the body back from the hips. Hold for 20 seconds.
From a Chair:
Now, after a full day of running around and mom duties, your body is a bit warmer. This will enable you to benefit more from a good flexibility routine. Your nighttime routine is the one that will realign your body for the next day of fun and frolic. For added benefits, take a shower or bath first. Be sure to tell the hubby he is in charge for a few minutes. This warms the body up even more, which will allow the muscles to relax and stretch further alleviating new mom back pain.
1. Start seated in a chair, cross one foot on top of the opposite knee and bend forward from the hip. You will feel this deep in your hips and the lower back will loosen up as well. Hold for about 20 seconds on both legs.
2. Next, repeat what you just did, stretch forwards once more, but when you’re done with the stretch, pull the knee into the chest and twist the upper body to the same side of that leg you are holding. Sit very tall and twist with good posture so that your spine can enjoy the ride. Hold for 10 seconds on each side.
Here are a few more ways to alleviate new mom back pain…
3. Sit up tall with both feet on the ground. Next, place your hands behind the head and bring your elbows close to the face, awhile bending your chin towards the chest. This allows the back of the neck to stretch and the upper shoulders to relax. From here turn your chin slightly left and/or right, you may find a spot that hurts a bit more, once there, hold it in that position for 10-20 seconds.
4. From the seated position, sitting up tall, grab both hands in front of you. Next, twist the palms outward with the arms extended. ,You will finish off by rounding the shoulders forward, as if you are pushing the palms away from the body. This enables the upper back to let go and relax. Hold for about 20 seconds. For an added bonus, twist the arms to one side and hold, and then twist them to the other side.
As a new mom, you are about to learn all sorts of strange ways of positioning your body – all for the goal of getting things done. If you incorporate daily stretching and movement into your plan, you will feel great and keep any aches and pains far, far away.
Sending you a pain free afternoon!