Often we see moms in the first three months after they have given birth complaining of sciatica (traveling pain from buttocks area down leg) and lower back and neck pain.
The cause… obvious – months of carrying extra weight in the front, relaxation of ligaments as a natural part of birth process, awkward positions feeding the baby, and lots of heavy lifting.
The strain moms’ back takes in late pregnancy and the first year of baby’s life is significant. Moms are lifting babies out of cribs and maneuvering the heavy, awkward infant carrier in and out of cars and grocery carts.
To prevent back issues during and after pregnancy, women need to proactively work on their core strength, balance and practice proper lifting techniques. If you are a new mom and are experiencing pain, make sure to seek help from a physical therapist in the early stages of pain.
Often, by the time we see moms, their issues are severe enough to affect their sleep or their ability to care for their baby. Typically, this means that pain has reached a chronic stage. Acting early allows the physical therapist to identify specific weaknesses and tightness, educate about body mechanics, and develop a customized program to prevent permanent damage. Also, physical therapists can often identify and address pain issues like pelvic floor dysfunction that is often confused with back pain.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of your family. Moms hear this advice all the time, and when it comes to taking care of your back, the advice is no different. These are good words to live by to prevent back discomfort from becoming a chronic issue.
Kris Jolley is a WakeMed physical therapist at the Alexander and Kraft YMCA.