PULLING THE VEIL OFF POSTPARTUM POSTURAL PAIN
Today we wanted to take a few moments to talk about Postpartum Postural Pains. Not the pains associated with labour but more specifically the aches and pains women feel across the whole body; the ones that materialise after giving birth to their little bundles of joy.
While many women expect there will be some ups and downs after a new baby arrives, most do not expect the stiffness and pain that start to pop up over the body. The hours spent lovingly gazing at your little one, feeding and nursing in awkward positions, resulting in stabbing pains in your upper back and neck, plus headaches to follow. Then falling asleep in chairs and a baby on your hip in the day can leave you feeling like your hips might fall off – and you’ll be wonky forever!
WHAT ARE POSTPARTUM POSTURAL PAINS?
The reality is, pregnancy-related musculoskeletal pain can affect your life dramatically and the postural changes that occur in pregnancy don’t just disappear after birth. In fact they can get worse…. Why? Because you’re putting new and persistent demands on your body during a time when the body is particularly vulnerable and still healing from birth.
Your ligaments and connective tissues are still not back to their pre-pregnancy strength, but now you are walking around carrying a 4-14kg wiggling baby, probably on the same hip 90% of the time.
Then you’re feeding for hours a day looking down at your beautiful little baby, hunching over to changing diapers, carrying around and maneuvering the car seat and buggy.
Eventually (and actually quite quickly) this routine can take a serious toll on your body. When these activities are performed over and over, it can create tiny micro-tears in the muscles and ligaments supporting the spine and pelvis. This initiates a cycle of inflammation, pain and instability.
Due to the repetitive nature of these postures, your body is under constant physical stress and never gets a chance to heal. The cycle is perpetuated by increased stress and a lack of sleep, which heightens inflammation and makes your nervous system “raw”.
COMMON POSTPARTUM PAINS
- Pains in upper back and shoulders
- Sharp pains in the lower back and hips
- Tingling in wrists and hands
- A painful lower back
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
- SHOW YOURSELF SOME TLC
Your body deserves a little love! And in the early Postpartum phase hands-on therapy is the best! A skilled practitioner – such as a qualified postnatal massage therapist – can help address the specific physical challenges associated with motherhood to get you functioning, moving, and feeling better. The great news is that pregnancy and postnatal massage is still allowed under current COVID restrictions as its importance is recognised.
- MOVE DAILY
Spend a few minutes daily on your mat/rug wiggling your body, circling into your hips and releasing your shoulders and back. Check out this quick 15mins wiggle to get you ironed out (Lettie link a video on vimeo when she’s done it).
- PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR POSTURE
Take some time to think about your body position. Particularly when you’re feeding, nursing or sleeping. Make sure you are supported with cushions and are comfortable.
Stretch out your shoulders and your chest as often as possible. Stand tall and try to open up through your chest and send your shoulders back and down. This will also help your core work better. Try these releases for tight pectoral muscles. (Lettie carousel or IGTV and link through).
- BREATHING, PELVIC FLOOR & CORE
Start breathing deeply, expanding your chest, ribs and intercostal muscles (between your ribs). These breaths want to be full, expansive 360 breaths that allow your ribcage to move creating space, whilst also flooding the body with oxygen to aid healing. Starting linking this breath to your pelvic floor and deep abs (transverse abdominals). This will help both your posture and global pains.
- DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Water affects every organ and cell within your body and the connective tissues in your body is made of 90% water. So staying hydrated helps these tissues to heal and can help strengthen your body, reducing inflammation and pain. Dehydration is also a huge contributor to headaches and chronic pain.
Just 5-10 minutes a day of stretching and noticing both your posture and breathing can make a real difference to any postpartum pains. Please remember to rest as much as you can to support your healing, and ask for help if possible. We hope the above short videos are helpful, and if you need any more support your postpartum journey please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
Lettie, Founder of Planet Mama x