Throughout your child’s life, but particularly in the first year, bonding is important. Cuddling, talking, and just close contact with the parents are essential to a baby’s emotional development. Some of the most common practices attachment parenting advocates recommend are breastfeeding, plenty of skin-to-skin contact, and baby-wearing. But alas! What if you have a bad back? A huge number of mommies suffer from back problems and chronic pain. It’s hardly surprising – after all, pregnancy itself is a risk factor for chronic back conditions, such as sciatica. If you are one of us – don’t lose hope. With just a bit of caution, you can still enjoy carrying and wearing your baby.
Do: Strengthen and Stretch Your Core Muscles and Back
Everyone keeps talking about those core muscles, but what are they really? They are the muscles in your lower back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. They serve a multitude of purposes (all of them super important), and they are what determines your posture. A lot of people (myself included – until recently) believe that proper posture is what I call the beauty queen pose – shoulders and buttocks far back. Instead, as I found out from my physical therapist, your buttocks should be slightly clenched, your abdomen tight, pushing your pelvis forward – no curve to the spine. Let me tell you – that’s hard work! Taking proper care of those core muscles is essential for plenty of reasons, but how do you do it? Through exercise, like pilates. Throw in some yoga too, for good measure. Yoga is great for spinal stretching and lengthening, which will help you avoid pinched nerves, sciatica, and similar unpleasant problems. Exercise is not just great for your back, but your entire body, your mind and your mood.
Don’t: Ignore the Pain
Despite the fact that chronic pain is terrible, many women just try to ignore it, hoping it will go away on its own. It might, but if it persists, it’s best to consult a doctor. Your doctor will be able to tell you whether your pain is normal among pregnant and postpartum women, or it needs to be further investigated. Pregnancy can do some weird things to our body. For instance, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why my thumbs and wrists hurt like crazy after I had my eldest, until I read somewhere that carpal tunnel syndrome is perfectly normal postpartum. I also had a slight case of sciatica from favouring my left side constantly when I carried her. Improper carrying can result in a pinched ulnar nerve too, which causes excruciating shoulder, neck, upper back and arm pain.
Do: Try out Different Carriers and Wraps
If the first option you try doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean baby-wearing is not for you. It took me a while to find the best baby carrier for me and my back, but when I did I couldn’t believe how painless it was. Carriers differ greatly in terms of how much support they offer, and how they distribute the weight. Unfortunately, there’s no other way to do this than by trial and error, so you might have to go through some pain (unless you’re really lucky). Plenty of moms also swear by woven wraps. Whatever you choose, the trick is to position the baby as high as possible, and hold the weight primarily with your abdominal muscles and upper back, to avoid lower back pressure.
While a bad back can affect your ability to baby-wear to a certain degree, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s impossible. If, however, your pain is constant, severe or worsening progressively, seek medical advice. A doctor might recommend physical therapy that will rid you of your back problems. Good luck!
This post was written by Zara Lewis (Twitter: @ZaraELewis) a mom, fitness & yoga enthusiast and a regular writer for High Style Life. She is devoted to implementing healthy life habits in every aspect of life of herfamily and friends. Zara loves to share her parenting tips and is always open to learning some new skills, because she sees her parenthood as going to school forever. She enjoys traveling, hiking, cycling and baking.