After having a baby, you expect to experience aches and pains wherever the baby comes out (C-section or natural birth). Abdominal pain, breastfeeding pain, and headaches are all very common after delivery, but are there other pains you might experience and need to prepare for? Yes. Joint pain and back pain often come after delivery, and here’s how to cope:
What causes joint pain after delivery?
Weight gain from pregnancy.
That extra 25 to 35 pounds you needed during pregnancy changed your body’s balance. Just when you were starting to get used to the extra weight, you lost probably 10 pounds from having your baby, and now your body has to adjust to a new weight again. That can put extra confusion on your joints, which causes you pain.
If you were already susceptible to arthritis before you were pregnant or during your pregnancy, your joint pain could be extra painful right now from the changes your body is going through. Ask your doctor if you can take medicine while you breastfeed.
Pushing a baby out.
Delivering a baby is a natural, yet traumatic, experience. Your hips widen, which can cause tailbone pain and hip pain. You might be experiencing even more pain if you broke your tailbone during delivery (which isn’t common, but it happened to my mom). Invest in a donut pillow to sit on for extra comfort.
The increase of hormones during pregnancy, like progesterone and relaxin, that cause ligaments to relax to make your delivery easier are returning back to their normal state, which causes joint pain or lower back pain.
Lack of exercise.
If you didn’t exercise during pregnancy, you are at higher risk for joint pain after delivery.
Your uterus is slowly going back to its normal size, which changes your balance and might cause lower back pain from your muscles doing extra work.
To deliver a baby, you have to use groups of muscles you might not have ever used before, which might cause back pain.
Taking care of a newborn means getting little to no sleep. Less sleep means less time for your body to focus on healing, which contributes to your pain.
Lifting your new baby.
Lifting up a baby 15 times a day is something you’ve never done before, which might also cause pain until your muscles adjust.
What can you do to cope with the pain?
1. Diet and exercise.
The answer to everything. If you eat healthy foods and exercise, your joint pain will disappear faster. Most joint pain and back pain brought on by the pregnancy can last from a week to six months after delivery, depending on your health and levels of activity. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly will help you recover faster.
2. Maintain good posture.
If you plan to nurse your baby, make sure you practice correct posture to save you from further pain. For more details, check out our other blog post on how to breastfeed without back pain.
3. Pick safe exercise.
Swimming, walking, or doing yoga are better for those with joint pain than running, golfing, or playing tennis. Pick exercises like these that don’t put much pressure on your joints or that strengthen your joints and surrounding muscles.
4. Use hot & cold therapy.
Heat therapy can help relax tension around your tight muscles. Cold therapy will help numb the pain and reduce inflammation. Ask your doctor if hot or cold therapy would work better according to the symptoms you’re experiencing.
5. Get a massage.
Getting a massage can help you relax both mentally and physically, which might be just what you need when taking care of a newborn. If you don’t have the time or money for a massage, try using the Chirp Wheel+ to massage out your joint pain throughout your body.
6. Use oils and ointments to reduce joint pain.
It might be worth it to invest in essential oils like frankincense and myrrh, two oils that when used together help to reduce joint pain and inflammation.
There are many acupressure points that can help reduce joint pain and back pain. Check out our blog to see how to apply acupressure to yourself.
8. Get a baby carrier.
It is so fun to be close to your baby, especially during the first few months after birth. But carrying the baby around will increase your joint pain. Instead, get a baby carrier that can keep your baby close while you do the dishes, laundry, or even go to the store.
9. Lift objects safely.
When you lift anything, including your baby, make sure you keep your spine straight and bend at your knees, keeping a proper arch in your back. This will help prevent any unnecessary back pain from lifting.
Khan, A. (2019, November 7). Joint Pain after Pregnancy - Causes, Recovery & Home Remedies. Retrieved from https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/joint-pain-after-delivery-causes-and-home-remedies/?ref=interlink
Nair, A. (2019, November 7). Back Pain after Pregnancy: Causes and Remedies. Retrieved from https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/back-pain-after-delivery-causes-and-treatment/?ref=interlink
Vann, M. R. (2010, November 10). How to Manage Pain After Pregnancy - Pain Management Center - Everyday Health. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/pain-management/pain-after-pregnancy.aspx