ATTENTION ALL NEW MUMS!

May!!! We agree…. How is it May already? Well, May allows us to celebrate those very special people in our lives – our Mums. Being a parent can be very challenging at the best of times. And especially if you’re a new mum. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first, second, or fifth child, being a new mum comes with a whole host of daily challenges. Your new little human requires all your attention – feeding  constantly, changing eight nappies a day, bathing… Throw in another child, other family members, work, groceries (and the list continues) into the equation and it’s easy to see how life can be taxing on you and your body.

The good news is, we’ve devised a little self-help guide for new mums! Below we give you tips on how to be kind to your body and not put yourself at risk of injury, so you can give your little munchkin the attention they need.

FEEDING

You’re going to be doing a lot of this. Your new recruit requires constant nourishment to ensure they grow strong and stay healthy. And it doesn’t matter whether you breast or bottle feed, it’s likely you are going to be seated for long periods, looking down at your baby. This all leads to extra strain through your neck, back and shoulders. So, try some of these little gems of advice to help keep this process pain free:

  1. Get a comfortable, supportive chair – pick a chair that is going to feel good to sit in, but one you can easily get up and down from. If it’s too low, allowing you to slouch right back into, you’ll struggle to move yourself and your baby around without compromising your back.
  2. Keep your neck moving – feeding is a great time to bond with your baby. Eye contact is important but try not to spend the whole time looking down at a funny angle. Once your baby is comfortable feeding, it’s OK to break that eye contact every now and then to move your neck. Doing some light stretches will ensure you don’t end up with sore, overworked muscles.
  3. Consider a feeding pillow – these are great for taking the weight of your baby, so your shoulders and arms don’t have to. And they still allow you to have that important close contact.
  4. If you have a partner who can help feed, allow them to help regularly to give you a break. This tip is more for the bottle feeders of course, but it can make a huge difference.

CHANGING

It’s going to be nappies galore! This can mean a lot of bending over, so it’s important you look after your posture so your lower back doesn’t take all the strain. Try to avoid changing your baby on the floor in these early days. Ideally, get yourself a changing table. It means you can place your baby down on the table and change them at a height where you don’t have to bend forward and hold an awkward position. And of course, the same advice can be followed when changing your baby’s clothes. Look after that back, you’re going to need it!

OTHER USEFUL TIPS

The following tips are by no means any less important, so try to take these on where possible:

  1. Sleep when your baby sleeps: Getting those extra hours in when your baby is taking a nap is important to conserve your energy and reduce the risk of fatigue.
  2. Eat and drink well: It’s easy for the focus to turn to your baby, and rightly so, they are little and dependent on you. Remember though, you can’t look after your baby if you aren’t well. Eat for the health of you and your baby – lots of water and good nutritious food such as fruit and vegetables!
  3. Stretch: Especially your shoulders, neck and chest. Once baby comes along, our arms are always in front of us. Whether it’s holding, feeding, changing or playing, we’re usually a little slumped in our shoulders. Build stretching into your routine (like every time after baby feeds for example). We want to reverse the ‘slump’ position, so take your arms out wide, open up your chest and hold for 30 seconds (and repeat). Aim to do this three times a day (or whenever you get the chance!). Gentle shoulder shrugs and neck stretches can also help.
  4. Take time to relax: When the opportunity arises, get your partner, grandparent or friend to look after your newborn while you take a bath, read a book, or close your eyes for a little while. You deserve it, and it helps keep you sane and grounded during a very busy period in your life.

We hope you’ve found our list of tips interesting and helpful. If you are ever unsure, have a niggle or need some further advice, please do not hesitate to call us and book an appointment! Happy Mother’s Day to all you lovely Mums and mother-figures out there!!!

References:

  1. Everymum – https://www.everymum.ie/baby/expert-advice-5-practical-posture-tips-for-new-moms/
  2. Womens Health Australia – https://www.womenshealth.com.au/prenatal-postnatal-posture

WHAT’S IN A CURVE?

YOUR CERVICAL SPINE EXPLAINED

Acupuncture Yarraville - Inner West Health Clinic

Your cervical spine (c-spine) is classified as your top seven vertebrae (or more commonly, your neck). Here at Inner West Health Clinic, we think the cervical spine is pretty important. Not only does it house the delicate spinal cord, which sends messages from your brain to your body (and back again), and important arteries that provide blood flow to the brain, but it is also strong and flexible, allowing movement in all directions.

It has a lordotic curve, which means the spine curves into the body, before curving back out again through the thoracic spine (upper to middle back), and then curving back in again (lordotic curve), in the lumber spine (lower back). These curves are important as it helps us evenly distribute force through our spine, while helping us move, twist and bend. When one of our curves start to change or move, or if we experience some kind of damage or injury, it can set off a chain of events in our body – literally from head to toe!

Given the cervical spine’s important function in the body of holding the head centred and straight, it gets a lot of trauma. Not just severe trauma like from car accidents or injuries (a blog for another time), but daily trauma, which just about everyone experiences.

“So what is this daily trauma that I’m giving myself?” you ask. It’s a multitude of activities but sitting or standing with bad posture is a very common one. Do you:

  • work at a desk?
  • drive a car?
  • use public transport?
  • sit on the couch and watch TV?
  • use your mobile phone, tablet or laptop?
  • hold a baby in your arms, or feed a baby regularly?

If you answered yes to any of these, you’re likely to be experiencing trauma to your c-spine, which could result in:

  • forward head placement, putting extra strain through your spine and other parts of your body
  • eventual disc irritation, bulges or herniation
  • headaches, including migraines
  • nerve tingling or pain
  • referral pain to other parts of your body such as the shoulder
  • potential to progress into more severe or chronic issues.

To give you an idea of how trauma is caused, the human head weighs about 4.5-5.5kg. When it flexes forward 15 degrees, the force through the spine grows to about 12kg. At 30 degrees, it’s 18kg, and at 45 degrees flexion, our spine sees about 22kg. To deal with that, the spine and muscles around it start adapting, setting of that chain…

Correct sitting at desk posture ergonomics: office worker using a computer and improving his posture

How do I prevent further trauma?

  • Notice your posture: Try to keep your shoulders back and your head above your shoulders. You can do some simple exercises like chin tucks. Basically, dance like you’re an Egyptian and retract your head backwards, so it’s sitting above your neck. Try not to give yourself too much of a double chin (don’t tilt your head down). Also try some stretches that open up your chest and elongate your neck.
  • Shoulder retraction: Roll your shoulders back and down, then pull your shoulder blades together, like someone has put tape from one blade to the other. While doing this, make sure your core is engaged, by drawing your belly button into your spine – try to keep a natural curve in your back.
  • Check your workstation: You should be sitting with your elbows at right angles or just wider, your knees should be level with your hips, or slightly lower – prop your feet up onto a foot rest if you need. The top of your screen should be at eye level. Check out our graphic for more information.
  • Take regular breaks when sitting: Simply stand up, do a couple of stretches or go for a quick walk. If your workplace has standing or walking desks available, use them regularly.
  • Parents with babies: Be conscious of your posture. Try to relax your shoulders and use a pillow or support when feeding or holding bub for extended periods of time. If you have a baby that loves long cuddles, try baby-wearing (chest to chest) using a well-fitted carrier, rather than holding.
  • Visit your Inner West Health Osteo for a posture check and regular maintenance treatments. Your practitioner will be able to see where your imbalances are, find out what is causing your pain if you have any, and work through a plan to meet your goals.

Your cervical spine is important, so make sure you look after it! Think about your posture, get your Egyptian dance perfected and show off those beautiful (spinal) curves.

References:

1. Spine Health: https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spine-anatomy/cervical-spine-anatomy-and-neck-pain

2. Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head: https://motamem.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/spine-study.pdf