Bringing up baby puts mothers at risk of aches and pains. STACEY CHIA finds out how women can prevent injury by carrying a baby the right way.
Learn to carry your child the right way
If you are a mum with an active tot, chances are you will be familiar with creaky knees, achy elbows and a sore
“Mothers tend to put their child’s needs ahead of their own. Hence they overlook matters like posture, exhaustion and pain when taking care of their babies,” said Ms Thilaga Govindasamy, a physiotherapist at Thomson Medical Centre.
Here is how you can reduce the risk of injury when caring for your child.
Lifting your child from a car seat
If your child is seated at the centre of the back seat, sit beside him and lift him onto your lap before you alight from the car together.
If the car seat is beside the door, bend your knees when you lift your child out of it.
Bending your knees allows the use of the thigh muscles to generate an effort when lifting a load.
If your knees are kept straight, most of the lifting effort comes from your back and this can lead to back aches.
Carrying an infant car seat
Instead of taking hold of the car seat with one hand by its handle, use both hands to carry it. This helps to distribute the weight more evenly, said Ms Carol Remedios, a senior physiotherapist at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH). Do not carry the car seat on your forearm as you would a handbag.
The weight of the car seat will put pressure on your nerves in the forearm and this can lead to numbness and a recurring ache, said Ms Remedios.
Lifting your baby out of a cot
Make sure that the cot is not so low that it requires you to stretch while bending forward to pick up your child, said Mrs Wong Boh Boi, assistant director, senior lactation consultant at Thomson Medical Centre.
Mothers often have to pick up and put their child down in the cot several times a day. This repeated action can result in back strain if the cot is too low, said Mrs Wong.
If you are unable to raise the level of the crib, bend from your hips and not your lower back, said Ms Govindasamy.
Carrying a toddler
Always keep your child close to your body as this reduces the amount of effort needed.
“When the child is further away, there is a longer lever arm and this translates to increased effort,” said Ms Remedios.
This increased effort causes more stress on your joints, discs, ligaments and muscles, she added.
Sarong wraps and slings can be good alternatives, provided these are easily adjusted for the comfort of both mother and child, said Mrs Wong.
Putting your child on your lap
If your child is on the floor, kneel or squat before picking him up.
The child should be right in front of you, said Ms Remedios.
Otherwise, picking him up at an angle would result in stress on your shoulders and back due to your body’s twisting movement, she explained.
Exercises to cut risk of injury
Strengthening your abdominal and back muscles can reduce your risk of developing injuries associated with caring for your child.
Ms Carol Remedios, senior physiotherapist at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), recommends doing these exercises at least three times a week.
1. Bridge exercise
- Lie on a mat with your feet on the floor and knees bent at 90 deg. Ensure that your knees are kept hip width apart.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles and pelvic muscles.
- Lift your buttocks and lower back off the floor as far as you can. Your weight should be on your upper back and not your neck.
- Hold this position for five to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This exercise helps strengthen your upper back muscles.
2. Pelvic tilt exercise
- Lie on your back. You will notice a small gap between your lower back and the floor.
- Tilt your pelvis backwards and this small gap disappears.
- Hold this position for five to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
This exercise helps strengthen your lower abdominal muscles and stretches your lower back muscles.