Carry On (Without Injuries)
Who knew that such a cute little baby could be so, well, heavy?! Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, or you have an additional full-time job on top of mommyhood—you probably don’t get the credit you deserve for the hard work of taking care of a baby. That is, the hard, physical work of lugging around a small person, his gear, your gear, and everything else that might be needed in the event of an emergency.
Repetitive use injuries
These are the aches and pains that come from doing the same thing over and over, and often, you don’t even realize you’re doing them. Injuries can develop over time from the way you carry your baby, the way you carry his gear, or the way you lift him onto your lap or into the car seat. These are all relatively new movements for your body, and they can strain even strong muscles and tendons.
We’ve all seen moms carrying their baby in a car seat over their forearm like it’s no big deal. We’re talking about carrying somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 or 40 pounds on your arm like it’s a purse or a shopping bag. This puts way too much stress on your back, your arm, your shoulder and even your neck. Instead, carry the car seat in front of you, using both hands, with your elbows bent. The closer the weight is to your body, the easier it is to carry, and the less stress it places on your back. And, despite the convenience of having one hand free, resist the urge to carry your baby on your hip. It’s much easier on your back muscles and ligaments to carry him close to your chest and centered with his legs wrapped around your waist. Similarly, when carrying lots of gear (with or without baby), try to keep it close to your center, and balanced on both sides of your body.
The worst way to lift your baby from the ground or out of his car seat or crib is to reach down and in, hold him at arms’ length, and lift with your back bent. And that twisting motion you might use as you lift him out—that can cause enough strain on your back to leave you in bed for days. Instead, place one foot in front of the other and lower yourself to one knee to lift your child off the ground. For situations involving the crib or car seat, set your feet apart and draw baby close to your body before lifting with your legs. And, instead of twisting, move your feet to turn your body, if needed.
When feeding your baby, pay attention to your posture. Of course you want to look at him, but constantly bending your back and neck muscles to look down can cause long-term consequences. Likewise, don’t bend at the waist to buckle car seat straps or pick up toys. Instead, put one foot slightly in front of the other and bend with your knees.