In the two years after the birth of a baby, fathers see an increased risk of developing back and neck pain, generally due to a lack of awareness about the health impacts of their new role.
But it’s not all about you. The two years after childbirth can be more difficult for a woman’s body than the nine months of the pregnancy.
So, what can you do to help?
A considerable challenge of the postpartum journey is that few, if any, notice that a new mother is not 100% back in shape. So gently remind family, friends, and colleagues that a little extra consideration is still required.
Both of you also need to look after yourselves. So here are a few tips to prevent unnecessary aches and pains.
Take care when carrying your baby and their accessories
Once you have a new baby, you’ll have a lot to carry (carry cots, spare nappies, etc.), and you won’t always remember the best way to lift things: bend your knees, keep your back straight, and use your legs to power you (and whatever you are lifting) up. It is doubtful you’ll manage to lift correctly every time but do try as much as you can, as it will help protect and strengthen your back.
If you feel any pain or your body tells you that you have pulled something or that all is not quite right, do seek help. Please do not ignore it, as it will only get worse.
Don’t sacrifice sleep and rest
Having a good night’s sleep (usually eight hours a day) helps the body to heal and reset before the start of a brand-new day. But during the postpartum period, getting eight hours in one go may be close to impossible, so focus on building up eight hours across 24 hours. If that is eight one-hour periods of sleep, then so be it.
In addition to the quantity of your sleep, you can improve the quality by ensuring that pillows and mattress are at their best and that you lie comfortably and not twisted or bent in a chair.
Choose footwear wisely
Support for your body starts at your feet. As much as possible, wear shoes that give good support to the arch and ankle. Opting for ‘walking’ style shoes that provide ankle support ensures they can be laced up (this gives your foot much more support inside the shoe), and if you can, speak to a biomechanics expert to see if you would benefit from custom-made orthotics.
By ensuring your body is balanced and aligned from the foot up, you will be more robust and better able to cope with all the physical demands a new baby puts on you. This applies to men as much as women. A man’s body may not have changed shape in the same way, but there will be new demands on the muscles, back, neck etc., and therefore the importance of balance and alignment is the same.