Being a new parent is hard. One thing you aren’t told about before being a parent is the range of pains, strains and injuries that you get from the repetitive actions of daily parenting life. Not to mention the impact on your body from giving birth to a baby - the long-term impact can lead to chronic pain.
Recently we caught up with Brock Smith, Brisbane based physiotherapist to discuss the health challenges that parents, carers and especially mothers face with young children.
As we all know, being a mum involves a heightened level of activity that many women didn't have before they had kids. After all, caring for children involves regularly lifting children, kneeling at their level, carrying loads of bags and gear, and endlessly darting around to try to keep children from getting into things they shouldn't. Unfortunately, all of this can lead to a range of overuse injuries in mothers.
A lot of the injuries that new parents face are due to repetitive movements with improper body mechanics. Things like lifting car seats and loading strollers into trunks and up stairs take a toll on the body and mums can be especially prone to these injuries in the postpartum period.
Brock says that a sudden increase in lifting can cause overuse injuries in the elbow, thumb and other areas. A common injury experienced by pregnant and new mums is SIJ dysfunction. This can happen when hormones are released during pregnancy which can cause the Sacro-iliac joint (at the base of the spine) to move more than normal, causing some irritation. This, along with carrying the baby on one side or one hip can also increase the irritation and pain within this joint. Mothers in particular are susceptible to injury because often they are not ready for the increased demand of the high activity level of being a parent."
Brock recommends that one solution for parents and carers could be the use of the HipSurfer. The HipSurfer would allow the baby to rest on the hipseat, meaning the parent would not have to grip as much and could reduce the chance of a repetitive strain injury (RSI).
He adds that Tennis Elbow is another common RSI in mums from overuse of forearm and gripping muscles. By using the HipSurfer it could reduce the amount of time spent gripping and lifting or holding which could reduce the chance of an overuse injury like tennis elbow.
The fact is, no matter how prepared you feel physically for parenthood, mums can still develop parenting-related injuries and need care.
Here are a few of the injuries that mums can experience, plus some insight on how the HipSurfer can aid with relief and even become a way to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Repetitive strain injuries are common in mums due to the sudden increase in lifting and holding of a new baby. The HipSurfer would allow the baby to rest on the support, meaning the parent would not have to grip as much and could reduce the chance of a repetitive strain injury (RSI).
Tennis elbow is another common RSI in mums from overuse of forearm and gripping muscles. By using the HipSurfer it could reduce the amount of time spent gripping and lifting or holding which could reduce the chance of an overuse injury like tennis elbow.
De Quervain’s syndrome (Mummy Thumb)
Almost 50% of new mothers experience this condition. De Quervain’s syndrome occurs when the tendons around the base of the thumb are irritated and constricted. Mummy Thumb is agitated when infants are lifted and carried improperly. It might feel like a sharp, shooting pain starting at the thumb, through the wrist, and darting up the forearm.
The HipSurfer can help to relieve the weight and strain on your wrists and thumb when carrying your child - helping to prevent the cause and to allow time for the injury to heal. If you are suffering from mummy thumb it is recommended to not use your thumb and fingers. Instead, place your hands on both sides of their rib cage and gently squeeze the child to lift
SIJ - Sacroiliac Joint Injury
Hormones are released in pregnancy which cause ligaments to relax in preparation for childbirth. Unfortunately this can also cause some joints to move more than what they are meant to. A common example is the Sacroiliac joint which sits at the base of the spine. Normally this has very minimal movement, although during pregnancy it can move more and cause some irritation. This irritation can then be exaggerated when carrying a new baby on the hip.
Shoulder strain and headache
By resting the child on your hips, it changes the biomechanics and layout of your spine which after prolonged periods, can put more pressure on certain joints and muscles throughout the body. This could lead to a wide range of muscular and joint pains and injuries. This can even refer up to your shoulders and neck and could cause tension headaches. The same principle applies to building a brick house. If the bottom bricks or foundation are off, it can cause the structures above it to be off-centre too.
Brock highlights that a physio's goal should always be to treat the cause of the issue rather than fix what the pain is. For example, it is all well and good to treat a sore leg after running, but it would make much more sense to investigate the running style and what is causing that pain to develop.
The HipSurfer is a really clever and healthy way to treat the underlying cause to a range of injuries facing new mums and other parents. By relieving the possible cause, it could mean less costs in attending appointments and more time spent at home with your new child.
I would recommend a HipSurfer to any new mum who is facing challenges with overuse injuries or other common injuries to trial off-loading the painful area. As always, it would be recommended to talk to your physio to see if this product is right for you.