As a mother of 2 boys, I read a lot of blogs and sites about parenting. This week I came across an online article titled, “6 Real Mom Back Pain Triggers (and Strategies for Feeling Better!)”. The title resonated with me instantly. Having children did not cause my back issues but pregnancy and caring for 2 children definitely aggravated my injuries.
Our readers may not know that Nimbleback Inc. was started when my second was a few months old. In fact, Christa and I began talking about creating The Beam™ when I was in my third trimester. Thankfully I had the good sense to wait until Evan was born and we had a few months together before diving into starting a business.
If you are a parent you know how physically demanding it can be. I suffered from each of the 6 triggers in this article.
Breastfeeding is supposed to be the most natural, beautiful experience between a mom and her baby. Maybe it is for some. But I can honestly say it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It put immense strain on my back and neck. Being hunched over a baby 6+ hours a day while I tried to maneuver him into position so that he would latch led to terrible pain across my upper back and neck.
#2 Lifting from the crib
When my first was about 2 months old I bent over into the crib to pick him up. As I tried to stand up I felt something happen in my pelvis and I couldn’t straighten my back. It was horrible. I had to see my chiropractor for an adjustment before I could stand up properly. I spent weeks recovering and had to ask for help putting my baby in and out of the crib. Those of you with kids can relate to loosening ligaments during pregnancy. These ligaments take months and months to return to normal and it is very easy for a pregnant woman or new mom to injure herself.
#3 & #4 Putting him in the high chair and lifting off the floor
My kids were both large babies. My first was close to 9 pounds and my second just under 10. Carrying these giants in the womb was demanding on me physically but lifting them every day since has been hard too. And let me tell you, kids do not make it easy on you. There have been many times that I have had to lift a crying kid off the ground while rolling around or trying to crawl away.
#5 - Buckling him into the car
Every parent can relate to the challenges of car seats. Where to begin? There are so many. Starting with how heavy they are and how hard it is to install them. If your back survives the installation, there will come a day when your child finishes you off. There are even cartoon strips written about this. For the most part, my kids are great and gladly get in the car. I know I am lucky as this is not the case for all parents. I have however had a glimpse into what this must be like. My kids are guilty of the “rod”. This is when they go straight as a board and you have to try to bend their little body into the seat. This is of course while being turned awkwardly sideways and bent forward into the vehicle. Not an easy task and definitely not good for your back.
Image from The World according to Toddlers by Sharon Payette Siep
#6 Using a stroller
Strollers are designed to help your back as they save you from carrying your baby everywhere (another trigger!). But until you are a parent, you don’t realize the many ways strollers can aggravate your back too. The first is folding/collapsing the stroller and lifting in and out of the car. Then you have to be careful putting the baby in and out of the stroller. Again, it is a lot of bending. Last, pushing the stroller can be hard on your back. Some strollers have extra long handles so that you don’t need to bend. But most strollers require taller parents to have to lean forward slightly adding stress to the back, neck, and shoulders.
To avoid injury, be mindful of your movements and remember to bend your knees and not lift with your back. Some other great tips listed in the article are:
- Breastfeed while sitting in a supportive chair and use a pillow. I really liked “My Breast Friend” but there are many different ones on the market. Choose what works for you. The article also suggests doing some shoulder blade squeezes before feeds. You can use The Beam for this. Place The Beam down your spine and squeeze it between your shoulder blades to loosen up the muscles before a feed.
- When lifting the baby from the crib, pull the baby towards you, stand with your feet a hip-width apart and then bend your knees. Tighten your abdominals and then lift.
- For putting the baby in the highchair they recommend taking the tray off first so you don’t have to maneuver baby into the chair. Sometimes as moms we don’t work smart, we work fast and rushed. So take a few extra seconds to make things easier for yourself.
- When lifting off the floor, don’t bend. Squat!
- When putting the child in the car seat, the article says to sit in the seat beside the car seat and then rotate your torso to put the baby in. This will only work if you have 1 child. For many, this is not a very useful tip. From my own experience, I can suggest 2 things. First, when putting the infant seat into an SUV, stand inside the doorway of the car and lift up with your arm to raise the seat into the base. I did this rather than trying to lift the seat up to my shoulders and then having to move it forward into place. Second, when your child gets older, teach them to climb into the car and into the seat. This will save you from lifting. It may take an extra few minutes but your body will thank you.
- When using a stroller remember to stand tall. Slouching will throw off your alignment. Also, it is suggested that you squat in front of the stroller when putting the child in and buckling them up.
A few other tips I can share from my experience are:
- When using your cell phone, be sure to hold your phone at eye level rather than looking down at your screen. That will help you avoid text neck. And let’s be honest, when we aren’t busy with our kids, we are texting or sharing photos of them on social media!
- Lift weights. Before having kids I used to joke about “mom arms”. Seriously, moms have the strongest arms. It really is a requirement of being a parent
- Work on your core. Begin strengthening your core as soon as it is medically safe after having your babies. This tip has nothing to do with how you look, but it will help you avoid injury. I had 2 C-sections (1 planned and 1 emergency) and my core was in terrible shape. I went into my second pregnancy stronger and worked on my core sooner and I have not experienced the same pain or injuries I did the first time.
- Invest in good gear. With my first, I used second-hand strollers. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE buying second hand. But I was given 2 different strollers that weren’t designed for my body or my everyday needs. Make sure to pick what works for you. Also, invest in a great diaper bag that is comfortable. Do not choose one that is too big or you end up lugging around extra weight that you don’t need. Also, invest in good baby carriers. I personally LOVED the Moby wrap and the Ergo baby. Both distributed the weight so that it wasn’t all on my shoulders. There are many great products out there and you can find great deals on second-hand carriers.
- Create an ergonomic nursery. Invest in a good chair to feed and rock your baby in. Also, think about how you set up your change table so that you aren’t having to bend over when changing diapers. You will be doing this a million times a day so you should be comfortable too.
- Ask for help. No one gets an award for doing it all on their own. If they did single parents would have trophy cases full of awards! In our house, my husband would get the baby out of the crib at night, change his diaper and then go back to bed while I fed him. He also did the baths and still does that majority of them. Not only does it give you a break but it also gives your husband and child some alone time. It seems obvious but I think a lot of new moms don’t want to miss a second with the baby and don’t realize their husband/partner is missing out on 1 on 1 bonding time.
- Stretch every day. I like to end my day using The Beam™ by Nimbleback. The Beam™ helps my alignment and it helps release the tension in my muscles and ligaments surrounding my spine. I love doing The Back Booster. It doesn't take a lot of time which is perfect since I don't have any! I still see my chiropractor but, I use The Beam as a tool at home to help release tension that before I used to suffer through.
If you are a mother I am sure you can relate to this post. If you are not a mother I hope this has given you some insight into the physical demands of being a mother or a parent.
Since Mother’s Day is coming up we want to say thank you to all the mothers out there and give them the gift of a nimble back. Use discount code toughmoms at checkout to save 25% off your entire order at nimbleback.com. This offer is valid until May 15th, 2017. Order by May 9th to ensure delivery before Mother’s Day. US customers should order before May 5th.
For the entire article visit Parents.com