Pregnancy can take its toll on a woman's body - and not just during pregnancy. In fact, the postpartum period is a time where women are the most susceptible to injury, according to Dr. Perri Klass, pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics at New York University. This is mainly because hormonal changes that occurred during pregnancy leave the ligaments and joints looser, and more vulnerable.
In her latest piece for The New Yorker, Klass assembled a group of experts who have some wise words for new moms when it comes to reducing repetitive stress injuries as the baby - who is now on the outside - grows.
During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles pull apart as your body makes room for the growing baby. This causes a separation between the two sides of the abdominal muscle. According to Dr. Karen Sutton, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, women basically have no core after giving birth and should be aware that this lack of core strength can decrease stability and put pressure on other parts such as the back or hips, and lead to injury.
The Pelvic Floor
Weak pelvic floor muscles, according to Dr. Sutton, also puts new moms at risk of poor posture and even back pain. Pelvic floor therapy and even kegels can help women re-engage their pelvic floor muscles, and avoid a host of issues such as back and hamstring pain, abdominal weakness and even breathing difficulties.
The Back, Shoulders And Neck
The constant lifting and bending in that critical postpartum period can also do a number on the back, shoulders, and neck. Dr. Anna Ribaudo, doctor of physical therapy, recommends that new parents consider raising the height of things such as changing tables and dressers so that there is less bending involved with the care of a new baby. She also recommends stopping and doing ten scapular retractions (pulling the shoulder blades toward the spine) each time you change a diaper or dress the baby.
Exercise And Resuming Normal Activity
Lighten the load, suggests Dr. Sutton, and lift less weight than what you were used to before you became pregnant to avoid unnecessary injury. Exercising too soon after birth can actually do more damage than good, she adds. Even after being "cleared" at your six-week checkup, don't take that as an okay to resume pre-pregnancy levels of activity. After all, pregnancy and childbirth are serious business, and your body needs time to recover after working so hard to bring a baby into the world.