When my first baby was born, I was warned and prepared for the sleepless nights, the endless nappy changes and the dire need for quick and easy meals. The one thing I was not ready for, was the aches and pains that came with being a new parent. Not the soreness from birth, but the back, neck and shoulder pain from the awkward positions of nursing, rocking and lifting bub in and out of her crib.
Long hours are spent in positions that often put strain on a new parents back, neck and shoulders and the repetitive stress can lead to long-term injury and slow rehabilitation if not looked after nice and early. So we’ve found five small ways to relieve that tension and those new parent aches!
1. Reminders to stretch
There are a few great stretches that can really help the neck, shoulders and back, but the hardest part sometimes is remembering to do them! So set your phone alarm every few hours to remind you or pop a little message on the bathroom mirror or fridge door. These days if you have a smart watch, they have a feature to detect when it’s been a while since you’ve been up and moving! It might seem that they remind you annoyingly frequently… but it’s easy to lose track of a lot of time when you’re a new parent! We’ve included a few quick stretches below that can really help.
2. Use the other arm
Becoming a little more ambidextrous can really help with the repetitive strain injuries. You may not have even noticed that you carry the capsule or shopping predominately in one arm or even balance bub on one hip in particular. Switching sides can feel weird at first, but will definitely help out your body in the long run.
3. Check your pram posture
You might not have realized, but there are a number of ways you can adjust your pram to be more ergonomic! This includes adjusting the height of your handle to improve comfort in your wrists and shoulders when pushing. But there are also a number of ways you can improve your own posture while walking around with bub. Ensuring that your hips are rolled forward to create a neutral spine can help with abdominal strength and also shoulder alignment. Making sure those shoulders are also rolled back and down and your pelvic floor is switched on too. This is also a good time to sneak in some of those stretches! Pop a reminder on your pram!
4. Ergonomic Pillows
I did not realize myself just how difficult it would be to maintain good posture while breastfeeding. My physio once told me that you could try to do everything correctly, but you will still have to compromise your posture a little. That’s no reason though not to improve everything you can in the meantime! It’s important to make sure bub is elevated up to the breast, instead of lowering your chest down to them to feed. A boomerang shaped pillow is perfect for propping bub up and keeping them in close to feed. There are many pillows designed specifically for this purpose, but a regular boomerang pillow from your local department store does the trick just as well!
5. Seek relief for your new parent aches!
We all know how hard it is to get away from bub and the “mum guilt” that comes with taking the time to get a massage, but it is SO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT! You need to look after yourself in order to look after them! Taking the time now to get to a physio, remedial massage or acupuncture will save you from a chronic injury and a lengthy recovery time. Cast that guilt aside and remember that when you are in your best self, you are the best for them!