Even among people who aren’t mothers, it’s widely known that carrying around a baby for nine months often results in some spine-related aches and pains. If you happen to be expecting a little bundle of joy, the good news is you’ll likely experience some relief after giving birth simply because you’ll no longer have excess weight in your midsection and around the lower portion of your spine. However, there are some additional factors that could contribute to back pain after your baby arrives.
You’ll likely be breastfeeding often during the first six months or so, before solid foods are introduced. If your posture is off, you could end up with lingering or recurring back pain. If you need some additional support, consider a feeding pillow or wearable back supports. The recommended correct posture for feeding a newborn is accomplished by:
• Positioning the baby at your side so he or she is facing you
• Tucking your baby’s legs under your arm on the same side you’re feeding from
• Supporting the baby’s head with one hand and using the other to guide the feeding process
Keep in mind the often-repeated advice to “bend your knees and lift with your legs, not your back” when picking up or lifting your baby. Also, when selecting cribs, bassinets, or enclosed play areas, pay attention to height. Your baby won’t be able to crawl out of such enclosures for a while, so it’s okay to have something a bit higher off the ground so you don’t have to bend or lean forward excessively. If you’re going to use a baby carrier, choose one with wide straps so your baby’s weight is evenly distributed.
Diet choices are more important if you’re a new mother who’s breastfeeding, since a lack of nutritious foods could result in deficiencies for your child as well. If you’re having difficulty getting the right balance of essential nutrients from diet alone, talk to your doctor about appropriate supplements.
Just because you’re breastfeeding doesn’t mean you have to overdo your calorie intake for the sake of your baby. You’ll be fine if you keep the focus on eating well-balanced, nutrient-rich meals. Fortunately, when it comes to foods that are good for both you and your baby, there are many excellent options, including:
• Green leafy vegetables • Berries and bright-colored citrus fruits • Lean meats like chicken breast, turkey, beef, and lamb • Nuts, seeds, and peanuts (but nothing with salt) • Fish and seafood • Brown rice, oats, and other healthy grains
It’s common for new mothers to visit the doctor with complaints of back pain only to find out there’s no obvious physical cause. However, this doesn’t mean it’s all in your head. In fact, if you asked a Beverly Hills spine surgeon, you’d find out that new mothers are more likely to experience stress-related spine pain because of new responsibilities and changes in their household dynamics.
This added stress can boost the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Released by the adrenal glands, this hormone increases blood sugar levels and alters immune system responses, which isn’t a good thing for the tissues in and around your spine. If you’re experiencing added stress post-pregnancy, you may benefit from:
• Counseling or support groups
• Stress management techniques (e.g., talk therapy, deep breathing, mindful meditation)
• Anti-anxiety medications
When new mothers experience minor instances of back pain, the discomfort can usually be treated with heat and ice applications, over-the-counter medications, changes in diet and exercise habits, and posture improvements. If such efforts fail to provide relief, see what your doctor or a spine specialist has to say, especially if you had previous issues with spine pain before your pregnancy.
While it’s not unusual for new mothers to have back pain due to the immense changes in their lives and routines, don’t ignore pain that’s severe or long-lasting. Some conditions that cause spine pain might be more serious and need to be treated with procedures such as spinal decompression or alternatives to spinal fusion. Beverly Hills residents who are experiencing chronic spinal pain should reach out to The Spine Institute for diagnosis and a plan for treatment. Call one of our friendly representatives and schedule an appointment today at 310-828-7757.