The two years after the birth of a child can be more difficult for a woman’s body than the nine months of the pregnancy. A huge challenge of the postpartum journey is that few, if any, notice that a new mother is not 100 per cent back in shape. A new mother needs to gently remind family, friends, and colleagues that a little extra consideration is still required. And do what you can to look after yourselves. Here are a few tips:
1. Take care when carrying baby and accessories
Carry cots, spare nappies, toys – there’s a lot to lift and carry. Remember the best way to lift things: bend your knees, keep your back straight, and use your legs to power you (and whatever you are lifting) up. This will help protect and strengthen your back.
2. Eschew stiff upper lips
If you feel any pain or your body tells you that you have pulled something or that all is not quite right, do seek help. Do not ignore it as it will only get worse.
3. Book in with a health practitioner
Find an osteopath, chiropractor, massage therapist or biomechanics expert. You get an hour that is entirely focused on you (enjoy it), plus you’ll get treatment that will help your muscles relax, reset your posture and alignment, and ensure that any aches or pains don’t get worse or turn into something debilitating that will prevent you from giving your baby the care they need.
4. Don’t sacrifice sleep and rest
Having a good night’s sleep (usually eight hours) helps the body to heal and reset before the start of a brand-new day. But during the postpartum period, getting eight hours in one go may be close to impossible, so focus on building up eight hours across the 24-hour period. If that is eight one-hour sleeps, then so be it. You can improve the quality of sleep by making sure that pillows and mattress are at their best.
5. Remember physical and mental health are connected
Do your best to include some dedicated exercise/stretching time in your day. This helps your body and your mind. You can let go of stresses and worries (at least for a time) and focus on dealing with the day’s challenges with renewed vigour.
6. Choose footwear wisely
Support for your body starts at your feet. As much as possible wear shoes that give good support on the arch and ankle. Opting for "walking" style shoes that provide ankle support, ensures they can be laced up (this gives your foot much more support inside the shoe), and if you can, speak to a biomechanics expert to see if you would benefit from custom-made orthotics. By ensuring your body is balanced and aligned from the foot up, you will be much stronger and better able to cope with all the physical demands a new baby puts on you.
Christophe Champs is an expert in Biomechanics, and the founder of PODO Clinic and Workshop. Christophe works with clients to help address postural and biomechanical issues that are causing pain or putting a client at risk of injury. By testing both the moving gait and the still posture Christophe can correct misalignment and asymmetry through creating custom-made orthotics to suit the exact needs of each individual client.