There’s nothing like having a little one to make you feel twice your age – in more ways than one! So if, like us, the constant nappy changing and baby carrying has turned your back into one an 80 year old would reject, you might like to implement our SOS plan
Exercise can go a long way to keeping your spine strong.
‘Regular walking and swimming when you get the chance will keep your muscles in good shape and your joints flexible, which supports your back,’ says personal trainer Joanna Helcké. You’ll also remember the importance of strengthening your core muscles from pregnancy, which is vital for your back.
Pilates-style exercises are fantastic for this area, but wait until you’ve seen your GP or had your post-birth check-up before exercising.
‘A safe way to start is to sit on an exercise ball to eat your meals or while you watch TV,’ says Joanna. ‘Your core muscles have to engage to keep you stable.’
Watch your posture
New mums spend a lot of time hunched over breastfeeding, or bending over a cot or changing mat. Use cushions when feeding and position your changing station at waist level.
When sitting, think BBC: Bum on Back of Chair, so sit on the bottom of your jean pockets, not the top
‘If backache is interrupting your sleep, tuck a cushion under your knees while you’re on your back,’ says Joanna. ‘This tilts your pelvis and gives your spine relief.’
When walking, stop for a second and link your hands behind your back to open up your shoulders.
When sitting, think BBC: Bum on Back of Chair, so sit on the bottom of your jean pockets, not the top.
Bend at the knees
Bending at the knees to pick things up, rather than curling your whole body forward, means you bear weight in your legs, not your spine.
‘To check you are doing this right, stand in front of a chair and bend as though you’re going to sit,’ says Joanna. ‘As your bottom is about to hit the chair, your back should be neutral, with your heels on the floor and your knees bent.’
Mix up your movements
Feeding, changing nappies and lifting your baby involve a series of repetitive movements, which can trigger pain. The best way to avoid it is to mix things up so, while it may feel unnatural, try to alternate the side on which you hold your baby.
Soothe postnatal pains
Post-pregnancy, anti-inflammatory painkiller gels with diclofenac, such as Voltarol Emulgel, are good for back pain, as they block the chemicals that cause inflammation, stiffness and tenderness. There are also natural ways to soothe pain.
Studies say acupuncture can be more effective than drugs, while a covered hot-water bottle can help relax tight muscles and boost circulation to ease inflammation.
A session with a physiotherapist or osteopath is an investment in the future of your back. ‘By massaging the soft tissue and mobilising the joints, they can relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of long-term problems.
Watch out for signs that you need extra help – shooting pains in your back or legs, especially if they come with pins and needles, could be a sign of nerve damage.
Also see your GP if you need painkillers for more than two days.