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Postpartum Body Mechanics: Lifting and Caring for Your Baby Safely

By Dr. Christy Carosello PT, DPT, PCES

Introduction

The postpartum period is a time of immense joy and significant physical adjustment. As a new mother, your body has undergone substantial changes, and now, you are tasked with caring for your newborn. The arrival of a new baby, means repetitive lifting, and holding in sustained positions, as well as other tasks that may not previously have been part of our daily routines.

Proper body mechanics are crucial to ensure that you do not strain or injure yourself while lifting and carrying your baby. In this post, we'll explore essential tips and exercises to help you maintain good posture and protect your body during this precious time.


Understanding Body Mechanics

Body mechanics refer to the way we move during daily activities. Proper body mechanics involve using your body in a way that minimizes stress on your muscles, joints, and ligaments. This is especially important postpartum, as your body is still recovering from pregnancy and childbirth.


 

Key Tips for Safe Lifting and Carrying


  1. Engage Your Core: Before lifting your baby, engage your core muscles. This provides support to your lower back and helps stabilize your spine.

  2. Use Your Legs, Not Your Back: When picking up your baby bend at your knees and hips, not your waist. Squat down close to your baby, keep your back straight, then use your leg muscles to lift. Alternatively you can use a hip hinge pattern if lifting baby over a barrier. Keel your back flat and core engaged as you stick your bottom out to hinge at your hips. Engage your glutes and push your hips forward to return to an upright position.

  3. Hold Your Baby Close to Your Body: Keep your baby close to your chest while lifting and carrying. This reduces strain on your arms and back by keeping the weight close to your center of gravity.

  4. Use Both Hands: Whenever possible, use both hands to lift and carry your baby. This ensures even distribution of weight and reduces the risk of muscle strain. With activities that require use of one hand, try to alternate sides with each use to avoid over use injuries to one side of the body. (Think carrying the car seat, holding baby, etc.)

  5. Maintain Good Posture: During pregnancy, anatomical changes typically contribute to a weaker core and more stress on the low back. Being mindful of postpartum posture can help with healing and pain management. Stand tall with your shoulders back and down. Keep your chin gently tucked, and ribs stacked over the pelvis. Think of standing tall through your torso. These postural adjustments minimize stress to your back and help you to engage your core.

  6. Exhale with the Effort: When lifting baby or heavy objects, consciously exhale to protect your pelvic floor. Holding your breath is a natural thing to do, to stabilize the core, as it is typically weaker during the postpartum period. Instead, engage the core and exhale through transitional movements and lifting.

 


Common Postpartum Activities and Body Mechanics


  • Lifting Your Baby from the Crib: When lifting your little one from the crib, position yourself close for he crib with feet shoulder-width apart. Hinge at the hips, keeping your back flat with core engaged, and use your legs to lift baby.

  • Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is another common postpartum activity that can require holding baby for sustained periods of time. Without proper positioning and support, new moms may develop issues such as back, neck, or wrist pain. Successful breastfeeding body mechanics tips include using a supportive chair with armrests, bringing your baby to the breast rather than leaning forward to meet baby, and using pillows to support your arms to hold baby. There are also special pillows, such as the My Breast Friend, designs to ergonomically support breastfeeding moms.

  • Carrying the Infant Car Seat: For a short distance carry, hold the car seat with both hands and bend your knees rather than your back to pick it up. Once in an upright position, hold on one side with core engaged and upright posture. Alternate sides each time you carry to prevent muscle imbalance. If you plan to carry the car seat for a further distance, try this hack - with your baby facing you, loop your arm through the handle and out again, so your hand rests comfortably on the side of the car seat. From there, twist your hand, grab the car seat's base and stand. This allows you to evenly distribute the weight of the car seat and maintain an upright posture.

  • Stroller Mechanics: When placing your baby in the stroller, if baby is in a bassinet or infant car seat attachment, bend at the knees into a squat, to lower baby into the stroller. If baby is now sitting in an upright stroller seat, kneel down to avoid bending at the waist as you fasten the lap belt. When walking, use your legs to push the stroller, maintaining good posture.

 


Strengthening Exercises for New Moms

It is important to participate in a regular strength training regimen in order to keep your body healthy and ready to tackle the physical demand of motherhood. In addition to mindful body mechanics, exercises to target your core, hips, and pelvic floor strength set a strong foundation for success.

Please keep in mind postpartum activity guidelines that allow for adequate healing time frames. Typically it is recommended to wait about 6-8 weeks to resume training strength and exercise activities. If you aren’t sure where to start your pelvic floor therapist can guide you in an appropriate strength regimen, as well as review of appropriate body mechanics to protect your body as it recovers.

 


Conclusion

Practicing proper body mechanics and incorporating strengthening exercises into your routine can help you navigate the physical demands of caring for your newborn. By taking care of your body, you ensure that you can continue to provide the best care for your baby while also supporting your own recovery and well-being.


**Take the Next Step Towards a Healthier Postpartum Recovery!**


Experiencing discomfort or challenges with your pelvic floor after childbirth? Our specialized pelvic floor physical therapists are here to help you regain strength and confidence. Schedule a consultation today to create a personalized recovery plan tailored to your unique needs. Don't wait – your well-being is important!


Have questions or need more information? Reach out to us at hello@mamasinmotionllc.com, schedule directly at https://mamasinmotionllc.janeapp.com, or visit our website mamasinmotionllc.com for resources and support.

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