Being a new parent, in addition to being joyful and exciting, is a tough job, one that requires great expenditures of energy while sleep-deprived. In addition to emotional commitment, it also requires a great many physical actions your body is not accustomed to, such as performing myriad tasks while carrying that sweet new member of the family. While you have no doubt been inundated with advice and cautions by family and friends, it is unlikely you have been given physical training for this period of persistent, unfamiliar exercise.
For a great many new parents, this life stage may be full of new aches, pains, and sometimes localized weakness. If you are experiencing such problems, this is a good time to make an appointment with an experienced and well-respected physiatrist — a doctor who specializes in pain relief and restoration of function. After all, having a new baby makes it more important than ever to maintain your health and strength.
While new mothers may be more prone to muscle pain since they have (usually) just completed a 9-month stint of carrying a heavy load that has already strained their bodies, fathers are by no means exempt from baby aches. Grandparents, other family members, and anyone else who cares for a new baby or toddler, may experience similar discomfort, especially if they are older and have some arthritis.
On Long Island, anyone in this situation should make an appointment to consult with the pain management experts at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine. We have excellent credentials and a high rate of success with patients from Nassau, Suffolk, and Queens.
How can caring for such an adorable little person cause so much pain?
New parents who continually lift, carry, and reach for their new child may injure muscles, tendons, and nerves because of the repetitive stress they put on various parts of their bodies — particularly their backs, necks, arms, and shoulders. Typically, they develop a strain or sprain; in some cases, though, an especially awkward or forceful movement may cause a more serious injury, such as a herniated disc or sciatica (pinched sciatic nerve).
To understand the problem, it is important to remember that babies grow very quickly. While your newborn son or daughter may weigh only 6 to 10 pounds, before the year is out, you will be carrying a 15 to 30 pound bundle of joy. In addition to your offspring, you will likely spend a great deal of time lifting and/or carrying a diaper bag, car seat, stroller and other supplies to keep your baby safe, comfortable, and entertained. These accoutrements will undoubtedly increase the weight you bear and the awkward positions your body is forced to assume.
Ways Parenthood Can Hurt Your Spine and Muscles
Consider the following potential muscle stressors if you concentrate on making the baby comfortable, but don’t focus on putting yourself in a position of ease:
- Lifting your baby from the crib
- Lifting your baby from the floor
- Feeding your baby (whether nursing or giving a bottle)
- Putting your baby in a high chair or taking her out (it’s best to remove the tray)
- Bathing or changing your baby (especially if you diaper your baby on the couch or floor)
- Carrying your toddler, especially when carrying other things as well
- Carrying your child’s car seat and putting it into the car
New design and technologies have benefited parents in some ways, but made life more difficult in others. Various forms of child carriers (innovative to us, but harking back to papooses used by Native Americans and bundles used by slaves and serfs for centuries) have lessened the frequency of back injuries for new parents. On the other hand, car seats, so essential for safety, are now often used as infant seats as well, meaning that they must be carried and reinstalled often, putting added stress on the backs of parents.
Don’t Make Things Worse
Poor posture and incorrect lifting and bending compound the problem because when you stoop or slouch, your muscles strain to keep you balanced. The less in shape you are (obesity is an increasing problem for new parents) and the more awkward your movements, the more your daily childcare tasks are to lead to pain.
Do Make Things Better
Though goodness knows your time is limited when caring for a new baby, the sooner you begin stretching and exercising to strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, the better. Similarly, the more attention you pay to maintaining good posture and using your body efficiently, the more likely you are to avoid straining your muscles and tendons.
Evaluation and Treatment by a Highly Qualified Physiatrist Can Help Tremendously
It’s easy to put self-care off when you’re overwhelmed with taking care of your new baby. Nonetheless, if you are experiencing pain during interactions with your child, contacting the specialists at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine will be beneficial to both of you.
Not only will we rule out more serious injuries, but we have a wide variety of diagnostic and treatment options available to improve your state of well-being. Depending on our diagnosis of your problem we have many approaches to relieve your pain and restore your mobility, including:
- Customized physical therapy which focuses on strength, proper posture and lifting form
- PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy
- Ultrasound-guided injections of corticosteroid and analgesics
- PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) therapy
Remember, the sooner you contact us, the sooner your pain issues will be resolved. We are dedicated to making the time you spend with your baby will be less stressful and even more pleasurable than it already is.