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Pregnancy and Parenting - Avoiding Lower Back Pain

The Best Way to Pick Up Your Kids
We're not referring to an S.U.V. or a car pool here.  Parents spend plenty of time bending and lifting their little ones. It is important to do this correctly to minimize the risk of injury.

First, make sure you are as close to your child as possible.  It is best to have your arms right next to your body, rather than extended out in front of you. 

Next, make sure to always bend your knees, instead of bending at the waist with your legs straight.

Now contract your stomach muscles, which will help to limit the potential strain to the muscles of the low back.  It is crucial to engage your abdominal muscles, which are designed to support the weight.

The last step is to straighten your legs, while you hold your child close to your body and continue to keep your abdominal muscles engaged.

After just a short amount of practice, this safer lifting technique will have become a habit.


You're pregnant! What a wonderful blessing! Your body is now going through incredible changes. One unfortunate and unwelcome change, however, may be increasingly chronic pain in your lower back. Recent studies suggest that two-thirds of pregnant women experience lower back pain.1

This is not surprising when you consider the increasing weight of the growing baby, amniotic fluid and placenta, creating an unbalanced load in front of the lower back. This can easily strain and irritate the spinal muscles, tendons and ligaments, which causes pain, decreased mobility and muscle spasm.

Of course it is important to rule out other causes of pregnancy-related back pain, such as pregnancy-associated osteoporosis, septic arthritis, and inflammatory arthritis.2

The vast majority of cases of back pain in pregnancy, however, are mechanical in origin.

Your Millar chiropractic physician will perform a complete examination in order to determine the appropriate course of treatment. Once your low back pain has diminished, you will likely be able to add a safe, gentle routine of stretches and exercises to help prevent your low back pain from reoccurring. The goal is to minimize the detrimental mechanical effects of pregnancy by strengthening your lower back.

It is easier to prevent or minimize low back pain in the first place by being as fit as possible. (It is ideal to "train for pregnancy" by beginning your fitness program in advance, if you are trying to become pregnant.) This includes following a healthy diet, regular exercise, and gaining an appropriate amount of weight during your pregnancy. Your obstetrician will likely recommend vitamin and mineral supplements and will monitor your weight. The average healthy woman gains between 25 and 35 pounds during the course of her pregnancy.3

Let us now look a couple years into the future - to when your newborn baby is now a toddler. You often have to bend and lift, not just your child, but also other items such as a bulky car seat and stroller. There is a lot of bending, lifting, and twisting involved in caring for a toddler.

So how do you keep yourself from injuring your back?  The answer lies in regular exercise. You will probably be saying to yourself, "But how can I possibly have the time to exercise, when I already don't have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I need to do?"

That is certainly a difficult question, but if you truly understand the vast benefits of regular exercise, you will know that it is worth the time and effort.  Even a thirty minute workout several times a week will make a big difference. And, when you have fully established the habit of regular exercise, you will be amazed to find how much easier it is to bend over and pick your child up, and how much easier it is to carry them. The reason it is easier is because you're now stronger, healthier and more fit than you were before. It also makes being with your children a lot more fun when you have increased energy, strength and stamina.

1Pennick VE, Young G: Interventions for preventing and treating pelvic and back pain in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 18(2):CD001139, 2007.
2Sax TW, Rosenbaum RB: Neuromuscular disorders in pregnancy. Muscle Nerve 34(5):559-571, 2006.
3Jain NJ, et al: Maternal obesity: can pregnancy weight gain modify risk of selected adverse pregnancy outcomes? Am J Perinatol 24(5):291-298, 2007.

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