You were prepared for the aches and pains of labor and delivery, you knew breastfeeding might be a challenge - but most new moms aren’t prepared for the other tolls a newborn baby can take on your body.
The turned-inward and hunched-over postures required to hold, soothe and nurse/feed a baby - combined with all the ways you “try not to move” in order to keep a sleeping baby sleeping - can result in ultra-sore neck, shoulder and back muscles.
Is new motherhood taking a toll on your neck, shoulder or back?
If you’re starting to feel inner-neck, shoulder and back muscles you never knew you had before, this blog post’s for you!
Seek support from a licensed, pregnancy/newborn chiropractor
A chiropractor can work wonders for the misalignment that takes place as a result of new mom body positions. Just as you’re better off looking for a maternity or newborn photographer, rather than just a photographer when you want great pictures of you and your newborn, seek consultation from licensed, Bay Area chiropractors who specialize in pregnancy and newborn chiropractic care. Dr. Allen Harrison from The Balanced Atlas is a great option.
That way, you know they’re well aware of exactly what you’re going through and your baby is more than welcome to come along! There’s a good chance your health insurance covers a certain number of chiropractic visits per year; if not, most offices offer reasonable rates for those without coverage.
Practice mindful “ergonomics” when feeding your baby
Odds are your baby feeds about once every 1.5 to 3 hours - and this will continue for the next few months or more. If you aren’t paying attention to how your body is positioned, you’ll add insult to injury. Read Ergonomics for Moms…, by Dr. Gia Fruscione. While it’s written for breastfeeding moms, it applies to any new mother, father or caregiver spending time in “hunched” or “curved” positions to accommodate feedings.
Simple body awareness can work wonders, keeping you from hunching forward or sliding into slouched positions that strain your neck, shoulder and upper-back muscles.
Stretch regularly throughout the day
Look to your newborn infant’s wisdom on this count. Have you ever noticed how regularly your wee one stretches his/her limbs - or arches his/her back - on a regular basis? That’s because s/he instinctively knows how important it is to stretch. You can follow suit.
There are several articles dedicated to gentle - but effective - stretches designed for the postpartum mom. In addition to supporting neck, shoulder and back muscles - the following links also offer stretches that will firm and strengthen core and pelvic floor muscles.
Here are three to get you started:
Remember: Always check with your doctor or midwife before attempting any new postpartum exercises or stretches.
Consider taking a Parent & Me yoga, Pilates Or exercise Class
Stretching and strengthening exercises are antidotes to new mommy aches and pains. If you have someone available to watch your baby while you get out of the house for a bit, that’s great - but not necessary.
There are plenty of studios that offer “Parent & Me” style exercise classes - allowing you to stretch and strengthen with baby in tow. And of course, you are always welcome to stop and feed, change or cuddle your baby as needed. There are also more intense classes - like Mommy Boot Camps - that provide physical outlets that relieve muscle tension and pain as well. Cara Grinels from Hot Mama Pilates is an excellent example of postpartum pilates done right and in the comfort of your own home.
Give yourself the gift of a massage
Massages are therapeutic in and of themselves, but the very act of taking time out to get a massage helps to bring a body-centered awareness that is often lost when a newborn arrives.
As with the chiropractor suggestion, seek massage therapists that have their niche in maternity and postpartum massage. These professionals are more sensitive to the specific discomforts of new motherhood and tailor their sessions accordingly. Some spas, like Glow Birth and Body in Oakland, cater specifically to pregnant and postpartum women.
If the coffers are a little low right now, let family and close friends know you’d prefer a mommy massage gift certificate - rather than a gift - for this year’s lineup of birthday and holidays!
It’s hard to pay attention to your body when your newborn demands so much attention, but I assure you that incorporating even a few of these tips into your daily routine will make a notable difference in how your postpartum body feels.
Are you interested in capturing your little one’s moments via unforgettable photographs before s/he moves too far out of the newborn stage? Contact me, Marcela Limon - (510) 747-9019. I’m the owner of Lemonshoots. I love to capture the priceless and fleeting magic of newborn-hood, and I promise our sessions together will provide plenty of time for you to stretch and move while we take excellent care of your baby.