We know what you’re thinking, but that’s not what we mean. We wouldn’t ever judge or comment on a mother’s extra pounds. What we’re referring to, is extra baby weight – as in the weight of your child – another living being that you carry and hold on a daily basis. My 3 year old says “uppy”. Some throw their hands up in the air as a form of sign language for the “pick me up”. Fortunately for me, my daughter is a petite 28 pounds. Even with her size, after time my body feels the effects of the frequent “uppy.” Just how does this new “baby weight” influence our mechanics and what can we do to alleviate some of it?
Change it up
Just as you wouldn’t go to the gym and focus on strengthening one side, you shouldn’t carry your little one with the same arm all the time. Your baby is a weight, and constantly holding your baby on the same side will eventually lead to imbalance of the muscular system. Often, mom’s complain of back pain along with sciatic issues, (pain running from the hip all the way down the leg to the foot). When one side is taxed, other muscles will take over to compensate. Quite frequently, assister muscles of the back and hips end up strained. Switching sides each time you carry your baby will help balance out your alignment and help avoid pain patterns.
I know, we’ve all heard it and who has the time, right? With a new baby around we are normally getting more activity then we can handle and just want to sit down for a moment! Just ten minutes per day with some simple movements will strengthen and maintain balance in the body. Some of my favorites include; hip raises, modified push-ups and wall squats for an easy and quick overall workout.
Hip Raises: Lie down on the ground with your feet planted on the ground and your knees up. Squeeze your gluteal muscles and your abs in tightly and slowly lift hips off the floor. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds lower keeping everything tight the entire time. Repeat 6-10 times.
Modified Push-Ups: A push-up modified by keeping your knees on the ground. Remember to keep your back straight and shoulders down. Keep control when lowering with your elbows in. Repeat 6-10 times.
Wall Squats: Stand with your back against the wall and feet shoulder width apart. Lower down slowly to a seated position or wherever you feel comfortable and push back to standing keeping the weight on your heels. Use caution to keep your knees from going past a 90 degree angle.
Use caution when lifting
Recently, a client came into my office doubled over in pain after picking her 16 month old out of the crib. Every time you pick up your baby, whether it be from the floor, crib or car seat, you are placing stress on your body. Next time, squeeze your belly muscles in (yes they are there!), stabilize your scapula by pushing your shoulders down, and carefully lift with intention. I realize at 3 am this is not the first thing that enters a mom’s mind, however, most injuries tend to occur with fatigue so this is an even more crucial time to concentrate. Muscles have memory as does the nervous system from our everyday movement. This means, repetition of proper movement leads to habit over time.
Invest in a baby carrier
One of the best ways your can bond with your baby is holding them close with a baby carrier. My advice is to take your baby along to pick one out. With a plethora of styles, everyone has their own preference of what feels best. Just like shoes, try them on and carry your child around the store to make sure it’s comfortable. Most have adjustable straps that can be catered to your body. Make sure these straps are tightened, so your baby does not cause your shoulders to lean forward. You want the fit to be secure so that while walking around you can stand up straight and not feel top heavy.
Learn to say “no”!
Oh boy, this is one of the most difficult things to do as a mother. Trust me, the sooner you learn to let your child develop their independence the happier you all will be. As my daughter approaches 4, my feelings are torn. She’s my baby and my last child. As much as I don’t want her to “grow up”, I keep thinking 4 is the age I will start to feel “normal” again, emotionally and physically. My left side is chronically stiff as is my shoulder from years of holding her. The other day when she said “uppy” I told her to walk, and surprisingly she did without a fuss. Deep down I wasn’t so sure if this made me happy or sad. I know this is the end of her toddlerhood and beginning of a new era. As time goes on, my body will thank me for putting this “weight” down. As we both let go of her dependence for being carried, we will just have to increase our cuddle time on the couch!