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Ask the Expert: How to Avoid New Mom Pains

Mother Holding Child

New moms can experience all sorts of new aches and pains. Suddenly you find yourself constantly leaning over whether you are placing your child in a car seat, nursing, or simply rocking to sleep.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, postpartum moms may lift their children up to 50 times a day. As your child grows and becomes heavier, any pain you feel may get worse.

Here are some common aching body parts and how to ease the pain:

Wrist: New moms often feel tendinitis called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which is an inflammation of the tendons around the wrist and thumb. The muscles that power the wrist are very small and aren’t used to picking up 8-20 pounds of weight.

How to avoid the pain: Keep your wrists stiff when picking up the baby, lift with your core rather than your arms.

Hip: Holding your baby on your hip can send pain shooting through your opposite side. You can also end up with a potentially painful curve in the spine.

How to avoid the pain: Alternate which side you hold the baby on and use a sling or front baby carrier to more evenly distribute the weight.

Shoulders & Neck: You may be awkwardly leaning while breastfeeding your new baby causing a hunching of the shoulders.

How to avoid the pain: Maintain good ergonomics by keeping your spine and neck as straight as possible. You can arrange pillows under the baby to raise him or her to your breast instead of bending down to meet the mouth. A nursing pillow can also be helpful. It’s best to sit upright in a chair while breastfeeding instead of slouching on a couch.

Back: You can get back pain for a variety of reasons including leaning over a crib, changing your baby’s diaper, placing your baby in a car seat and just carrying your child. Reaching into a crib to lift your baby usually entails stretching your arms to clear the railing which strains the back. When you hold your baby too far from your body, you exert more force, straining your arm and back muscles. Additionally, twisting your torso when lifting your baby can add back strain.

How to avoid the pain: Utilize your legs and core instead of your back. Always lift with the large, strong muscles of legs so bend at the knees (not at your waist) to use your midsection for stability.

Dr. Sabrina Strickland, sports medicine surgeon

Dr. Sabrina Strickland is an orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery’s Women’s Sports Medicine Center, where she treats both male and female patients. Her research has focused on anterior cruciate ligament injuries in women, as well as rotator cuff repair and shoulder instability.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.