Having a new baby around is an exciting time, but it can be somewhat taxing on your body! Here are some tips to literally help relieve the stress on your body from some common tasks of a new parent or grandparent, and to keep you pain-free and moving around well.
Tip 1: Diaper Changing Ergonomics
Newborns need frequent diaper changes of about 7-10 times per day. This means that parents (and grandparents) will be performing this action often. To protect your back while doing so, make sure that the baby’s changing area is positioned so that it is directly in front of your body with the height at just below the elbows when standing. You want to make sure your body can get as close to the station as possible so that you are not reaching or bending forward and putting strain on your back. It is also helpful to have any materials that may be necessary close by in a drawer below so that you are not twisting or reaching excessively (extra diapers, wipes, clothes, gloves, goggles, face mask… you get the idea). Another useful tool to have is a small stool to prop one leg up on while changing the diaper to eliminate even more stress on the spine.
Tip 2: Carrying the Baby Carrier
This is another one of those things it seems you are constantly doing. When the baby is born it may seem like no big deal to lug around the car seat wherever you go. It’s fun and cute, but just wait because the baby will grow at super speed, and the weight really adds up quickly. Using the proper technique to carry the car seat from the beginning will save you! This technique works for most car seats. Simply place the baby carrier on the floor (even better if you set it on a chair, couch, or low table) to start. Position your body next to the carrier and place the arm closest to the carrier palm facing up through the handle. Next rotate your arm down and use your hand to grip onto the knob of the handle and lift up the carrier (pictures below). Genius! You’re welcome! For mothers who are postpartum, the spine can be especially vulnerable and prone to injury after you have delivered a baby because you still have pregnancy hormones circulating through your system. One of the hormones called relaxin causes the ligaments to be a little looser and more relaxed than normal. This means that the joints aren’t as stable and are predisposed to injury. I see a lot of moms that come in with strained shoulders and backs due to the awkward positioning and weight of these carriers. This technique will help to keep you and your baby comfortable.
Tip 3: Babywearing
Babywearing is growing in popularity because well, not only is it a way to have a pair of free hands and get things done while holding the baby, but it is a great way to get close contact and comfort that the baby needs. Babywearing offers many benefits to the child both physically and physiologically. It’s natural for babies to want skin to skin contact with their parents and it creates a great opportunity for bonding, especially for dads who are wondering how to be more connected with the baby. Babywearing is also a way for you to ditch the heavy car seat that we talked about earlier. The important thing is to find a wrap that you and your baby are comfortable using and follow the instructions on how to use it safely and effectively (later topic if interested). I used the Moby Wrap for my newborn. I liked it because of its versatility. You can wrap it multiple ways and wrap it so that the weight is evenly distributed across both shoulders.
Use these tips to help keep your back safe and you can enjoy more time playing with your new family member, which really is the most important thing of all!