One of the most common and long-term postpartum conditions is “mom posture”. This is caused by the extra weight women carry on their front when they are growing a baby. It is a result of the little one coming into your world your new routine is filled with feeding the baby, lifting, and the carrying-on-the-hip.
This can lead to a muscle imbalance in your hips resulting in an overextended pelvis and rounded shoulders when you are standing or sitting. The muscles on the front of your hips are flexed and in a shortened state, while your toosh muscles are in a lengthened and weakened state. Additionally, your shoulders have rolled forward and out of the body’s ideal alignment. The neck, shoulders, back, and wrists very much become cranky.
Good news! We have plenty of tips up our sleeves.
Mind Your Posture:
- Good posture: Being a parent is hard work and feedings are constant. When sitting to feed the little one, having good low back support can be super beneficial. Either a lumber roll or bath towel rolled up will do, place just above your belt line. Try not to slide down into a slouched position, especially if feeding in bed or on the couch – it will put unfriendly stress on your back and neck.
- Use pillows or cushions to help position and hold your baby (or babies) in place during feedings. Allowing you to relax your shoulders (no rounding).
- Take breaks from constantly gazing down at your beautiful little one, your neck will thank you.
- When carrying a baby be sure to switch up the side you carry little one.
- “Parent posture” – the jutted forward pelvis, the lean to one side, the child bouncing on one hip. It can do a number on your back, causing pains and strains. It is ideal to hold your baby with both arms close to your body, and keeping your pelvis centered (over your feet). Support your child by their bum and use your second hand to gently press them close to you.
Switch It Up:
- Carrying your little one the same side/way puts unnecessary strain on your shoulders, neck, chest, and arms all the way down to your fingers. Baby carriers can be a beautiful thing! Once your baby turns 6 months old, back slings and carriers can help offset some of the workload. **Be mindful if your shoulders are rolling forward or if there is continual pressure on the neck.
- “Hip carrying” – be sure to switch sides regularly and switch back to a balanced posture when you can. When baby’s weight is as close to your spine and center of gravity as possible, it reduces the amount of pulling to the side or back. Save your low back and muscles as much as you can!
Lift with Care:
- Picking up and putting down your baby into their crib occurs more times than you can count! And much of the time our back takes the brunt of it. When putting your baby down, hug them close, spread your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, bend your knees slightly, hinge those hips back, and slowly set them down.
- If you are too swayed in your low back, gently tucked your tailbone down slightly while still keeping a neutral (straight) spine utilizing your core muscles and protecting your lower back.
- Straight posture prevents twist-induced pains and shearing on your lumbar discs.
- When setting down or picking up your little one from the floor, lift with your legs and bend at the knees from a squatting position. The low back remains straight, long, and upright, and your pelvis neutral.
- As you lift little one….. breathing is key! As you lift from a crib, chair, or floor you exhale at the same time! This reduces intra-abdominal pressure put on our pelvic floor when we inhale or hold our breath. Your pelvic floor will thank you!
- Prayer Stretch:
- Starting position is seated upright in a chair. Place palms together in front of your chest and fingers pointing upward. Begin the exercise by keeping palms together and raising your elbows up until you feel a comfortable stretch in your wrists and forearms. Hold for specified amount of time and relax.
- 10-second hold x 10
- Reverse prayer Stretch:
- Starting position is seated upright in a chair. Place the back of your hands together in front of your chest and fingers pointing downward. Begin exercise by keeping back of hands together and moving your elbows downward up until you feel a comfortable stretch in your wrists and forearms. Hold for specified amount of time and relax.
- 10-second hold x 10
- Thread the needle with Sky Movement:
- Starting Position: Begin in all fours position, on your hands and knees.
- Movement: Reach one hand under and across your body allowing your head and shoulders to follow. Next reach hand upwards towards the sky, making sure your head and trunk are following the rotation. Repeat as prescribed.
- Make sure your eyes are following the movements of your hand.
- 2 sets of 10 each side
- Pec Stretch:
- Begin standing with a doorway about 1-2 feet in front of you.
- Keeping the elbows straight, raise both arms to the side approximately a little lower than your shoulders, and place your hands on either side of the doorway. Step forward with one foot so that it is on the other side of the doorway. Slowly shift weight onto front foot until you feel a stretch in your chest.
- 10-second hold x 10
- Cat and camel:
- Begin on your hands and knees with your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Arch the upper portion of your back as much as you can while bringing your head toward your chest. Return to starting position, and immediately arch the lower portion of your spine so that your stomach comes toward the floor while simultaneously raising your head.
- 2 sets of 10 reps on
- Seated Thoracic Extension:
- Sitting in a supportive chair place your elbows on the chair and allow your hands to rest comfortably behind your neck. Lean forward keeping elbows on the table to produce a stretch in the middle back region.
- Hold for 3-5 seconds, 2 sets of 10 reps
- Chin tucks:
- Start by sitting or standing with back straight. While staring straight forward, pull your head backwards using the muscles in the front of your neck. Keep your head level with the floor at all times. Avoid tilting your head either upward or downward while pulling backwards. Hold as indicated. Repeat as indicated.
- Prone on Elbows:
- Lie face down with your arms beside your body and your head turned to one side. Bring your arms up and place your elbows under your shoulders so that you are propped up on your forearms. Once in this position, take a few deep breaths and then allow the muscles in the low back to relax completely.
- Remain in this position for 2-3 minutes