Top 5 Tips for New Parents to Avoid Pain and Injury
Becoming a parent is simultaneously the hardest and most rewarding thing most people will ever do. We spend months preparing how to care for this tiny human, and once they arrive the busy schedule of their little routines can become all consuming. Understandably our own needs tend to come last on the list of the agenda!!!
Here at The House Clinics Bristol we see lots of Mums and Dads with little ones who have developed their own problems or injuries as a result of the physical demands that parenthood throws at them, combined with the cocktail of sleep deprivation, loss of usual exercise routines and changes in diet (ever tried to whip up a healthy stir fry with one hand during 'witching hour?!).
Here's 5 top tips for avoiding overloading your joints, muscles and nerves to help reduce the chances of developing issues.
1) Feeding: For Mums the biggest one in the early days is maintaining supported positions and postures while breastfeeding (Easy to say but harder to do we know!). Trying to sit in as upright a position as possible with cushions and and pillows providing some lumbar support and the ability to rest your arms in order to reduce tension in the shoulders. Once baby is latched and feeding try to look up in front of you rather than down all the time so your neck is not in a flexed position for too long a periods. If things are going well (or potentially helpful if they're not!) try different positions like lying down, reclined or standing to vary the mechanics and postural positions. The same points apply for bottle feeding of course.
2) Symmetry: One thing you will likely notice is that both yourself and baby have a favourite side for feeding, holding, cuddles, bobbing to sleep etc. The classic one is holding baby on one hip all the time. When we always do things on one side and not the other our body not only is this potentially overloading structures on one side, but our body develops imbalances and muscle memory for that alignment - a postural version of the old wives tale 'pulling a face in the wind'. We encourage our patients to be mindful of this and try when possible to use both sides as equally as possible.
3) Do your pelvic floor exercises (Dad's too!!): The sheet of exercises given to Mum's by the midwife or doctor post natal to do pelvic floor exercises - also called Kegels - is almost certainly the last thing on your mind when in the first days, however not near enough emphasis and importance is given to this. Not only is this important in post natal recovery for women's health reasons, the pelvic floor forms an integral part of your core muscle system which when dysfunctional increases vulnerability to back pain and injury. I don't think there's many Dad's with young kids that can honestly say they've been doing regular core exercises - hence the importance for men as well, you may be thankful of improved core muscle activation when you're on your 900th deep squat trying to get your bundle of joy back to sleep at 3am! These simple exercises can be done literally any time and in any position, a good habit is to remember to activate these muscle when lifting baby in and out of the cot, car seat etc to protect your back.
4) Get back into your exercise routines (but don't rush it): Even if it seems there are no spare hours in the day, getting into some exercise is great for your body as well as your wellbeing. These days there are many great ideas like buggy fit, mums running groups such as This Mum Runs, exercise classes involving Mum and baby, gym's with a creche and many more that make it much more accessible as well as a positive social experience. The one caviat being to remember that in addition to the physical side of recovery post partum (both natural and c-section deliveries), hormonal changes continue for up to several months at least post pregnancy which may influence inflammation and pain sensitivity in the body, ligament laxity and endurance capacity. This is particularly relevant for girls who may have been used to things like long distance running, high intensity weight training or high impact sports. Just remember to take it slow and seeking the guidance of a health professional would be recommended to return to these activities at the right times.
5) Manage your stress and wellbeing: Let's be honest, As much as they are amazing squidgy bundles of joy, babies are stressful!!! This plays havoc with our neurological function and emotional state particularly when the sleepless nights start to pile up. We know that stress puts our body into a 'flight or fight' state in which the sympathetic nervous system becomes chronically overactive. This leads to increased pain sensitivity, inflammation (swelling), altered hormone levels to name just a few adverse affects. Finding whatever works for you whether it be trying a mindfulness app, a meditation, or yoga to help manage this or simply recognising times when you're body is in this state and remembering to breathe is a great start!
At any stage whether an issue or pain has come up or you just would like a preventative check up and some supportive treatment and advice, your chiropractor is well placed to be a good contact point in addition to your routine NHS support structures. Not only Mum's and Dad's but babies and children can benefit from chiropractic care! Dont allow thos aches and pains to become the norm, so why not call The House Clinics Bristol on 0117 9420200 or book online at www.thehouseclinics.co.uk.