HOW you LIFT & CARRY your baby matters!
If I had a nickel for every time I picked my baby up, all of my student loans from PT school would be paid off! But this isn’t all about me. So, let’s get to the point.
Take this quick quiz to see if your lifting habits may be HURTING you:
- Are you holding your breath when you lift your baby?
- Are you bending your back/spine when you lift your baby?
- Are you carrying your baby on ONE SIDE most of the time?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, there’s a better way!
First, don’t feel bad or bash yourself – WE’RE ALL HUMAN! Even as a pre/postnatal PT, I still have to correct myself at times when I fall back into bad habits.
Now let’s talk about what you can do to move your body in a BETTER way and to alleviate some of the strain you may be placing on your back.
1. Exhale on the Effort!
Try not to hold your breath when you pick up your baby. Exhaling when lifting helps activate your deep core muscles effectively and helps manage internal pressure better. (this can also help with leaking!!) The only wrong way to breathe is to not breathe at all ;), so start making a habit of exhaling as you lift your baby (or other objects)!
2. Strive for a Neutral Spine!
Notice whether you bend primarily from your HIPS and KNEES, or from your SPINE when lifting baby (or other objects) from low surfaces. Getting all your movement from your SPINE can overload the spinal muscles, which are not designed to take on these tasks. Your larger muscles like your GLUTES and QUADS are supposed to help! Start using a SQUAT as much as possible when lifting. Think about it as an “opportunity to exercise” ;). Picking up your baby is an exercise, and they are much cuter than a kettlebell! Think about hinging at the hips, keeping the low back in its slightly inward curvature, and visualize using your glutes just like you would when you exercise. (And EXHALE!)
3. Alternate Sides when Holding!
Start a new habit of switching your baby to the other side frequently. We all have a dominant side that is more convenient and feels more natural for holding baby. When you always hold your baby on the same side, you will gradually develop asymmetry and muscle imbalance in your spine and pelvis. This goes for bags and backpacks too! Try to hold your baby in the center of your body as much as possible; tummy to chest, face to face. Hold them on one side when necessary, but force yourself to switch sides every so often.
Many of our clients notice a HUGE difference in their daily aches and pains simply by applying these few lifestyle changes to use their muscles and joints in a more efficient way! Still, many moms need a little more help to find the reasons for their pain, or to address acute injury or chronic underlying issues. If your body still hurts or you still leak when you lift and carry your baby, please come see us! Our passion is in helping you find the cause of your pain or other symptoms and providing you the tools to move forward toward a pain-free, leak-free life!
Dr. Kim Seymour, DPT
(Schedule with Dr. Kim or another SHEFitPT prenatal/postpartum expert HERE)