Infancy can be tough, especially for parents. Every parent caring for an infant younger than four or five is a potential victim of back pain, just from carrying the child. The lower back, sacroiliac joints, neck and shoulders are all potential problem areas for a parent because of the bending and lifting necessary in looking after the baby. And it's not always just parents - often grandparents are affected as well!
Most parents are not physically prepared for the demands of parenting. They don’t expect it to be such taxing work.
There are five common causes of potential back problems:
High chairs - Lifting the child in and out of high chairs can be awkward.
Play pens - Tending to the child while bent over can put abnormal strain on the back.
Hip carrying - Carrying the child on one hip puts the whole body off balance and makes unusual demands on muscles and weight-bearing spinal joints. This is compounded by favoring one hip over the other.
Car seats - Attending a child in a rear seat means the parent has to simultaneously bend and twist, then lift. In two-door cars, this can be highly risky for the back.
Nursing the baby is often done in an awkward position. Try to support the arm holding the baby with the arm of a chair, pillow or folded blankets.
The first six months with the baby can be the worst for the mother in particular, especially if she is overtired and has no time for proper exercise. Chiropractors frequently treat women for back conditions after a long labour, or for problems that have been neglected since long before the baby's birth. It is very important for women to have spinal check-ups during their pregnancy and to be evaluated again after delivery.
Fathers also should have checkups and be aware of positions to avoid. For instance, carrying children on the shoulders, which fathers often do, can aggravate neck problems. Walking with a fussy infant often leads to upper or lower back pain because the father tends to lean back to support the baby on his chest.
If you are expecting a new arrival or already have a young infant, see your family chiropractor for a check up to give you a firm foundation before the unaccustomed activities begin.