What’s Causing The Pain?
Many people expect some amount of discomfort or pain during pregnancy; however, what some people do not realize is that pain can appear after pregnancy too. Even mothers who do not have pain during the pregnancy may experience it after delivery.
Common complaints of pain from new mothers include neck and mid back pain—commonly due to carrying and breastfeeding the new baby. These repetitive actions can cause increased tension and stress to the muscles and ligaments of the neck, shoulders, and back. Even holding and looking down at a newborn for extended periods of time can reinforce the increase in muscle tension, poor posture, and lead to aches and pains. Some new mothers can also develop or continue to experience post-partum pain in their low back or pelvis.
During pregnancy, the body has nine months to adapt to major physical changes and demands. Labor and delivery, however, only takes an average of eight hours. During this period, the body undergoes further changes in a matter of hours. The body will then need even more time to adapt to these changes—this is what can cause pain.
The effects of relaxin (a hormone that is released throughout pregnancy to help make the ligaments and tendons stretch to prepare for childbirth) is still present after birth. It may take months for the ligaments and tendons to heal and return to their normal function, to stabilize joints. In the few months following delivery, new mothers are most vulnerable to developing strains and sprains in the back as the joints may not be stabilized or strong enough for increased activities.
What Can You Do For The Pain?
During this time period, it is important to stay active and focus on the core in order to prevent back injuries. Programs that focus on strengthening core musculature (including the pelvic floor) are a great way to start recovering and healing. This solid foundation will make it much easier to sustain a regular exercise routine with less risk of an injury.
An interesting study was performed with a group of women who experienced pregnancy-related pelvic pain (PPGP). The study was designed to find the long-term effects of a specific exercise program for pelvic stability. The results of the revealed significantly lower pain levels and improved function of the exercise group compared to the control group, one year postpartum. The same study followed up with the same group of women two years postpartum and found that there was still a significant difference, with 85% of the exercise group reporting minimal disability and pain compared to only 47% of the control group. This all goes to show how much a good core and pelvic stability program could impact your health and happiness.
Pregnancy related pain is common, but that does not mean it is normal. Pain is not normal! A new mom should not have to worry about being in pain after pregnancy, especially in the midst of the excitement of a new baby!
If you are someone else you know is suffering from post-partum pain, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. Your pain can be relieved, corrected, and prevented.
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