How to care for your baby and your back

This lesson is good for back-pain-prone mothers, fathers and caretakers who need tips on handling small children. You will learn: - How to position and move your body while caring for your children - Tips to reduce stress on your body when caring for your children
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  • 1. How to care for your baby and your back Written by: Joanne Zeis Reviewed by: Kevin L. Zacharoff, MD, June 2014
  • 2. Pregnancy can be hard on a woman’s body. Many pregnant women look forward to their due dates, thinking that their back pain will end once their babies are born. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. As a matter of fact, some women who’ve never had any back pain at all during pregnancy may only start having problems while caring for their infants. New mothers, with advance approval from their doctors, can help to strengthen their backs by beginning an exercise program that works on the abdominal and lumbar (lower back) muscles; it can improve lumbar muscle tone and ease back pain. Cardiovascular conditioning can also help with overall health and weight loss. Ask your health care provider for more information. ➢This lesson is good for back-pain-prone mothers, fathers and caretakers who need tips on handling small children. You will learn: ❖How to position and move your body while caring for your children ❖Tips to reduce stress on your body when caring for your children Learning Goals
  • 3. Caring for Babies: Lifting
  • 4. How hard is it to lift a baby? For anyone who hasn’t spent time doing it, the answer is easy: It’s not hard at all. But a new mom who lifts her 10-pound baby fifty times each day might have a different response. And the new mom who lifts her 10-pound baby incorrectly fifty times each day might have to sit down while answering. Why? Because a baby that’s lifted incorrectly, at arms’ length, will seem to weigh 150 pounds. That’s a lot of pressure on the back and spine.
  • 5. To save your back, try these lifting tips: ➢Bring your baby close to your chest before lifting. Don’t lift with outstretched arms. ➢When lifting a baby from the floor, half-kneel (with one knee on the floor) and bring the baby up onto your opposite thigh, keeping your head and shoulders up. Push off the ground, with one arm on a nearby object if possible, and return to standing. ➢When lifting from a crib, lower the crib’s side first, and move the baby towards you before lifting. ➢Avoid playpens or cribs where the sides can’t be lowered. If necessary: ❖Move as close as possible to the playpen. ❖Keep one leg in front of the other. ❖Bend at the hips, not the waist.
  • 6. Caring for Babies: Bathing and Changing
  • 7. Bathing ➢Bathe babies in the kitchen sink. Before starting, place all necessary items within reach. Open the cabinet below the sink and place a foot on the shelf to provide extra back support. ➢When using a plastic infant tub, place it on the kitchen counter near the sink to minimize bending and to make it easier to fill and empty. ➢When using a full-size bathtub, place a foam rubber insert or plastic baby seat on the bottom to keep your child from slipping. Hold the baby close to your body when moving her in and out of the tub. Carry her to the changing table.
  • 8. Changing ➢For diapering and dressing, use a changing table that’s at a comfortable height. Put one foot on a low stepstool to take some stress away from your back. Put all needed items within arms’ reach – diapers, wipes, lotions, clean clothes, etc. ➢If there’s no changing table, diaper and dress your baby on the kitchen table, a counter, or a desk to reduce bending. Avoid changes on the floor, the couch or the crib.
  • 9. Caring for Babies: Feeding
  • 10. Feeding ➢ Whether breast or bottle feeding, sit in a good, supportive chair with armrests. Put pillows behind your lower back for extra support, and place your feet on a small footstool; raising your legs this way will help to press your back more snugly against the back of the chair. ➢ When breastfeeding, you’ll feel more comfortable by bringing the baby towards your breast, rather than your breast to the baby. ❖ Place the baby so that he’s facing your breast, with his head in the crook of your arm. ❖ Make sure that his knees are underneath your other breast, not on top. ❖ Supportive cushions are available to help position the baby comfortably. ❖ If your nipple starts to hurt during the feeding, make sure that your baby is still positioned correctly. ❖ Alternate breasts for each feeding. ❖ Many hospitals have lactation consultants who can help to answer questions about breastfeeding. If you’re having any problems with nursing, speak with the lactation consultant first, before switching to bottle feeding. ➢ When your baby is old enough to use a highchair during meals, remove the highchair tray before lifting your baby in or out.
  • 11. Caring for Babies: Carrying and Transporting
  • 12. Carrying ➢Don’t carry the baby on your hip any more than necessary. Avoid other tasks like cleaning and cooking while holding your baby. ➢Choose a front, back, or hip infant carrier that spreads weight evenly and feels comfortable. ➢Infants can be moved around the house in a bassinet on wheels or in a stroller.
  • 13. Transporting ➢Consider newer, safer models of baby equipment – ergonomic baby carriages, lightweight strollers and easier-to-manage car carriers – before accepting used gear. ➢Avoid carrying your baby in the infant car seat – use a stroller or grocery cart instead. If carrying the seat is necessary, hold it close to your body with knees slightly bent. ➢To remove an infant carrier from the back seat, unlatch the carrier and place it on the seat. While standing outside, slide the carrier close to you before lifting it. Use this same technique to remove larger babies from regular car seats.
  • 14. Caring for Toddlers
  • 15. ➢Caring for an active toddler can be misery for a hurting back. ➢When walking with your toddler, don’t bend over – have him reach up to hold your hand instead. Walk with your knees and hips bent. ➢Avoid carrying your toddler on your hip. ➢Sit and have your child come to you, instead of picking him up. ➢Have your toddler use a stepstool in the bathroom, instead of holding him up at the sink. ➢To pick up your toddler, half-kneel beside him (one knee on the floor) and ask him to climb into your lap. Keep your head and shoulders up while lifting. Your toddler can also climb onto a chair or couch so you’re not bending over or lifting as much. ➢Let your toddler step up on a chair or stool to get closer to you, or to get into or out of the highchair and on or off the changing table. ➢Use the changing table, with a safety strap, until your child outgrows it. ➢Toddlers can climb into car seats by themselves. ➢If car shopping, consider a minivan or SUV; less bending over is required. ➢To position a child in a low car, drop to one knee.
  • 16. Playing With Your Children
  • 17. Here’s a big question for many parents suffering from back pain: Is it possible to have fun with your children without doing more damage to your back and spine? Thankfully, there are many ways to spend time together. You may not be able to play with your children in the same way as other parents, but keeping a positive attitude and giving them your full attention will make a big difference.
  • 18. Consider these options: ➢Try some activities that you can do together while sitting at a table, such as card games, board games, or crafts. ➢If sitting on the floor is unavoidable, sit against the couch and use pillows for back support. Remember to stand up every once in a while to relieve pressure on your back. ➢Make some changes to games and activities so you can take part while sitting in a chair. ➢Make a game of having your children pick up their playthings from the floor. Ask them to bring the toys to you, so that bending over isn’t necessary. ➢When you do need to bend over, remember to bend your knees and your hips, not your back.
  • 19. Attending Your Child’s Activities and Performances
  • 20. A hurting back doesn’t have to keep you from attending your child’s school plays or recitals: ➢If you’re in an auditorium, take a seat next to the aisle. Get up and walk around frequently. ➢Bring a folding chair to any outdoor games. If you’ll be sitting in the bleachers, portable folding bleacher seats can provide extra support for your back. These seats are available online and at sporting goods stores. ➢If you must drive long distances to attend your child’s games and events, allow enough time to take breaks during the trip. Get out of the car and stretch when possible.
  • 21. Things to Remember
  • 22. Caring for a baby is hard, demanding work. It might seem like there are never enough hours in the day and never enough chances to rest. If you’re dealing with back pain at the same time, some days may seem like they’ll never end. Here are some back-friendly childcare tips to keep things in perspective: ➢Easy does it! Pace yourself and take breaks when you can. Yoga, relaxation techniques, calming music and naps (if possible) can all help to lower your stress levels and reduce your pain. Even five minutes for yourself is better than nothing. ➢Get help. Spreading the childcare duties across multiple people (partner or spouse, relatives, babysitter or nanny) will lessen the burden.
  • 23. Your diagnosis and physical condition will help to decide how much lifting you can do. ➢Mothers with back pain should be in touch with their healthcare providers about their condition during and after pregnancy. ➢Ask your healthcare provider about any limitations in caring for children, or what to do if back pain gets worse. ➢Ask your doctor about a good, back-safe exercise or stretching routine. It will help your body and mind cope with the constant demands of childcare.
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