Our bodies are incredible adaptors and a prime example of this is how the body changes during pregnancy. To allow for the baby to develop healthily and for mum to be able to get on with everyday life, the body does everything it can to help to keep everyone happy and healthy. Two remarkable examples of this change are that the mother’s heart and lungs increase in size (to compensate for the organs having to provide for two rather than one) and her joints and ligaments in the spine and pelvis loosen (to help bear the weight of the baby and allow for the passage of the baby through the birth canal).
However these changes can sometimes cause their own set of problems. We see many women here at the clinic who have experienced back pain due to misaligned joints and ligaments, weak abdominals and a strained pelvic area (from the labour). Breastfeeding, which can be tricky to master, is also another trigger for back pain as it’s easy to slump or use the wrong technique.
The NHS have released these tips to help with breastfeeding technique:
Are you comfortable? It's worth getting comfortable before a feed. Remember to relax your shoulders and arms.
Are your baby's head and body in a straight line?
Are you holding your baby close to you, facing your breast? Support their neck, shoulders and back. They should be able to tilt their head back and swallow easily, and shouldn't have to reach out to feed.
Is your baby's nose opposite your nipple? Your baby needs to get a big mouthful of breast from beneath the nipple. Placing your baby with their nose level with your nipple will encourage them to open their mouth wide and attach to the breast well.
If you have back pain the key thing to remember is what your body has been through. It needs time to heal and any stiffness or pain can be alleviated and eventually eradicated with patience and strengthening exercises. So keep the faith! Here are our top tips:
Make time for yourself
Plan an hour a week to yourself to give your back muscles and spine a break from looking after the baby. Have a bath, meditate, read a magazine or go for a massage to unwind. Learning to relax is key to the healing process.
By starting a gentle exercise regime such as walking or swimming you will not only strengthen your joints, muscles and ligaments, you will benefit from the happy hormone – endorphins!
Alongside exercise, make sure you nap and sleep as much as possible to give your body and mind time to recover. This sounds obvious but we shouldn’t underestimate how lack of sleep can affect our ability to heal and our mind to function properly.
Make pelvic floor exercises part of your daily routine or try post-natal Pilates. Both of these will strengthen the pelvic area and help the muscles to return back to normal after childbirth. Here is an example exercise:
The pelvic floor muscle is the muscle which controls your urine flow.
Start by squeezing this muscle 15 times a day (some women find it a useful reminder to practice every time they walk through a door frame) and eventually build up to holding for a few seconds at a time. Your strength will soon come back. Remember, it’s a muscle so it can be retrained.
Mind your posture
Be aware of how you feel physically at all times and don’t overstain yourself whilst lifting or exercising. Your body is still in recovery so treat it gently. When sitting and standing, keep your spine straight and crouch before lifting to avoid damaging your back.
Try a treatment
If you’re still experiencing neck, shoulder, back or pelvic pain after trying the above you may consider seeing a Chiropractor. As spinal health experts they can help pin point the source of pain and treat the area through gentle spinal manipulation, improving flexibility and strength in the back, hips and pelvis. For more information click here.