Lead consultant osteopath, Michael Fatica at The Mayfair Clinic discusses why the post-pregnancy months are critical for back health
Why are new mums vulnerable to back injury in the weeks and months after giving birth?
New mums risk chronic long-term back problems if they ignore niggling aches and pains in the year after giving birth. The physical stresses of pregnancy, childbirth and looking after babies can place considerable stress on the lower back.
To reduce back strain:
• Hold baby close to your centre, not with your arms stretched in front
• Limit the time the baby is perched on your hips • Sit when holding baby for long periods • Take care with car seats – forward bending and twisting is the easiest way to injure a lower back disc • Use baby carriers sparingly
Perform these exercises 2-3 times daily to alleviate back pain during and post-pregnancy:
• Stand against a wall for a few moments with heels, bottom, middle-back and head touching the wall to “reset your posture” • Lie on your back and slowly flatten the arch in your back 10-20 times (should take approximately 60-90 seconds) • Go swimming; even a paddle in a pool will help, but avoid the breast-stroke • For pregnant women only: sleep on your side and use pillows to keep your neck straight, not tilted to one side
While back rehabilitation is often low on a new mum’s list of priorities, the stress of childbirth can highlight and even worsen a pre-existing weakness in the lower back. It’s therefore important for new mums to see an osteopath or chiropractor to get their spine examined early on, thereby preventing chronic problems.