A common complaint from new moms, especially in the first few weeks and months, is upper back pain. Your body will be adjusting to new positions and tasks that are surprisingly challenging and demanding, such as carrying and holding a newborn, changing diapers and breastfeeding or bottle feeding. It is only a matter of time before you are comfortable doing all of these tasks, but in the meantime your body is working hard to adjust. Many of the tasks associated with caring for a newborn involve leaning or bending forward for a period of time. When you are tired and unsure of what you are doing, you are less likely to pay attention to your posture and position. However, with time, all of the leaning, bending, and reaching you are doing may start to take a toll. Here are some tips to minimize or prevent upper back pain in those early weeks and months.
- When feeding your baby, whether by bottle or breast, bring the baby close to you rather than lean forward towards the baby. Use a breastfeeding pillow or several pillows stacked to raise the baby up towards your breast. If you are bottle feeding your baby, rest the arm that is cradling the baby on pillows or the armrest of a chair or sofa.
- When changing your baby’s diaper, hinge forward from your hips, try to keep your spine relatively straight and avoid rounding your shoulders.
Exercises to try:
- Sit or stand straight and then pull your shoulder blades back as though you are trying to squeeze them together. Hold for several seconds and relax, repeat 10 times.
- Lift your shoulders up and then roll backwards. Repeat 10 times.
- Perform gentle neck rolls, both clockwise and counterclockwise, 10 times each direction.
- Stand in a doorway or corner. Put one hand on each wall or edge of door frame and then gentle walk your feet forward to feel a stretch across the front of your chest. Remain in this position for 20-30 seconds, repeat several times.