As new mothers we spend many hours of the day and night feeding our babies. Too often we unconsciously slouch into positions that stress our joints, ligaments, and muscles. This habit aggravates postpartum postural problems, and can cause painful muscle spasms and injury. Most couches and chairs are designed for style, not ergonomics, and provide insufficient support to the lower back. When it comes to furniture, one size definitely does not fit all, especially for women.
Without proper lower back support, it can be almost impossible to avoid rolling back onto the tailbone or sacroiliac joints as we sit and feed our babies. This position curves the spine, collapses the chest, and rounds the shoulders forward. Sitting for long periods of time with poor posture further stresses already lax postpartum ligaments, compresses vertebral disks, and increases muscular imbalances in the torso and shoulder girdle. And the result is PAIN!
Many new moms tend to bring their breast down to their baby during nursing, rather than bringing their baby up to their breast. Rounding the upper back makes the nipple hang downward at an poor angle for feeding. Large-breasted women often feel that they must lift the breast and turn the nipple with one hand so that it faces directly outward while nursing. This places a lot of strain on the wrist. In most cases, the nipple hangs at a poor angle because the mother’s shoulders and upper back are rounded. When the spine is in the neutral position, the nipple automatically lifts to an advantageous angle for feeding.
Because carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries of the hand and wrist are common after pregnancy, continually supporting the breast while feeding is not advisable. Also avoid crossing the legs, or placing one ankle across the opposite knee, while nursing. These positions stress ligaments in the lower back, reducing the integrity and stability of the pelvis.
Give your body a much needed break by setting up an ergonomic breast-feeding station in your house. You’ll need a well fitting chair with arm rests and one or more pillows to ensure that your spine and shoulders are in the best position possible. A large water bottle is a good idea too.
In the ideal sitting position, your pelvis and spine will be in a neutral position, with the natural "S" curves of your spine intact. If not using a foot stool, your feet should rest flat on the floor with a right angle at both your knees and hips. Your body weight should rest on the bottom of your pelvis -- your "sit bones". Most chair backs tilt slightly back. This means that your spine will be neutral and on a slight back diagonal.
You can use a lumbar support pillow, or roll a hand towel into a cylinder and place it behind the small of your back to help support your spine. Lean your upper torso back into chair and allow your shoulders to drop down the back. Lengthen the back of you neck and roll your chin toward your chest. The center of your ears, shoulders and hips should form one long line. Since the neutral position increases the distance between your breasts and your hips, you might need an extra pillow to elevate your baby to the correct height.
If your breasts still need support in the neutral position, roll up a small towel or receiving blanket and gently wedge it underneath your breast to increase comfort. Ideally, your baby should be well balanced and at the correct height, so that you do not need to continually use your arms and hands to support her body weight during feedings.
Pregnancy and childbirth alter the dynamic structure of your body on many levels, leaving you in a weakened state that is vulnerable to pain and injury. By utilizing good postural habits while caring for your newborn, you can avoid and/or solve many common postpartum physical complaints.
Info from Helene Byrne. For more information visit www.exerciseafterpregnancy.com
The buildup of gas happens whether you are pregnant or not. However, you may discover more challenges with gas once you discover you are pregnant. One of the key contributing factors to experiencing more gas during pregnancy is the increased levels of progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone that causes the muscles throughout your body to relax.
Subsequently, your intestine muscles relax more which causes your digestion to slow down. The transient time through the intestine can increase by 30%. This allows gas to build up easier and creates bloating, burping and of course flatulence. Gas during pregnancy can also increase later in pregnancy when the enlarging uterus places pressure on your abdominal cavity. This pressure can also slow down digestion allowing gas to build up.
Unfortunately, the progesterone hormone muscle relaxation makes it harder to control the release of gas. Don’t be surprised if you ended up passing gas in an awkward situation creating a little embarrassment. Just laugh it off and blame it on the baby.
Specialized pregnancy massage in the comfort and convenience of your home.
Ever notice when you are lying on your side that your top hip isn’t even with your bottom hip? Your legs are usually centered beneath you, but when you lie on your side, your top leg moves down with the force of gravity to rest on the bed’s surface, creating torsion in your pelvis and extra tension in your low back. If you are pregnant, it already exacts a huge toll on your pelvic bowl - the weight of the baby rests there and the three separate bones that create the pelvis become hypermobile and can painfully move out of alignment. 80% of pregnant women report low back pain at some time during their pregnancy, so your back needs all the support it can get. To return your legs to alignment (and hips, and back), straighten your bottom leg, then bend your top leg and add a large pillow beneath it. The mass of the pillow ought to allow your top hip, knee and foot to sit at the same height, and ideally, the pillow will be pretty much the length of your leg. There are large specialty pregnancy pillows you can buy, or in a pinch, try a very firm king-sized bed pillow. Either way, this is going to release low back tension and keep you centered.
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Edema, or swelling of the joints during pregnancy, is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce collection of fluids in swollen joints, which also improves the removal of tissue waste, carried by the body’s lymph system.
Pregnant women are three times more likely to get sinus infections because of the hormonal changes taking place in their bodies. Pregnancy causes increased blood flow to the nasal passages, which may cause congestion. Mucus in the nasal passages and sinus cavities cannot drain freely, and the sinus cavities become clogged. The pooled mucus provides a rich environment for an infective agent---bacteria, virus or fungus---to grow and multiply. Symptoms of a sinus infection include headaches, fatigue, a sensation of pressure and post-nasal drip.
Sinus massage combines gentle pressure and warmth from the hands to break up the mucous that backs up in the sinus cavities. The natural drainage mechanism is stimulated to clear the passageways. Blood circulation increases to sustain better sinus function throughout the day. Congestion and pressure decrease so that the headache and pain associated with sinusitis are alleviated. Clients are often surprised to find that relief is possible following the first massage.
Anice Lombard, Massage Mama. Mama of 2 and Massage Therapist