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  • Louise

Carrying and Lifting

Updated: May 4, 2023

Just when you think your carrying days are over when pregnancy ends, you're faced with carrying and lifting a baby and all of their belongings. Your core strength is also at it's weakest in the postpartum period, especially after a C-section, so safe carrying and lifting can help prevent injury.

Mum carrying twin babies

Most people are aware of lifting from the knees and not from the back and avoiding twisting, which helps reduce the strain on the small back muscles that support the spine. Sometimes doing a squat to reach an object on the floor can be tricky for balance and put unwanted pressure on the pelvic floor. An alternative is to bend at the knees by putting one foot in front of the other; this way you have greater balance and control through both legs as you lift.

Trying to carry things as close to your centre of gravity is also best-practise. Your body has spent nine months adapting to a heavier load at the front, so carrying baby in this position takes advantage of the fact your body has strengthened to support a load in this region.

Problems arise with objects that you have to carry off to one side or further in front of your centre of gravity. Namely, car seats! Lugging a car seat in and out of the car can be a real pain, literally. They're bulky and heavy and awkward to carry. There are some great videos demonstrating how to carry a car seat without having to hoist it on your forearm like a heavy handbag. By looping your arm down through the handle to the underside of the seat, it reduces the amount of work your upper shoulders are having to do. Swapping sides as much as you can to even things out, and minimising the amount of time lifting a car seat whenever possible.

Learning how to engage your deep core stabilisers (transverse abdominus especially) before performing a lift, can help support your low back. This is important for everyone to work on regardless of whether you have had a baby, but especially if you have had any abdominal separation (diastasis recti), abdominal surgery, or carried a particularly large baby compared to your body size, or a multiple pregnancy. Rehabilitating your core back up to strength in a controlled, safe manner, is one of the best ways to prevent future injuries.

Deep and superficial abdominals core strength

We often think of the low back when we think of carrying, but women can also start to suffer from mid back, neck, arm and wrist/hand pain with repetitive actions such as holding baby for prolonged lengths of time. Getting yourself comfortable and using props like pillows to support the weight of baby, can help take the strain off the neck, shoulders and mid-back. Changing position frequently or swapping sides can help even the load too. Wrists are particularly susceptible to conditions such as De Quervains tenosynovitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, as continued pressure on the wrist combined with fluid retention after birth can aggravate these areas.

De Quervain's tendonitis wrist pain

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis leading to pain on the inside of the wrist, at the base of the the thumb.

Carpal tunnel syndrome wrist pain

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome causing pain and tingling or burning sensation, or numbness in the palm.

By taking things slowly, focusing on injury prevention by safe lifting and carrying, and sensitively rehabilitating the core back to full strength, most new mums navigate this transition well. Prevention and early treatment with a manual therapist can also help if problems do start to arise and everybody benefits from a stable core!

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