Joint pain in the postpartum period is a symptom that is rarely mentioned during pregnancy. Although not all women suffer from this sensation, those who do experience aches and pains throughout different parts of their body that can feel difficult to understand. This lack of warning can make you worry when it happens. You might feel that your bones have suffered a great deal of loss of density throughout the pregnancy, which is often not the case. One mother I know in her early 30’s said she felt one hundred years old! When I did some searches online about this topic it wasn’t easy to get a lot of clear answers. I hope this article can help shed some light on this subject.
In response to a patient’s question about the reason her back hurt, Dr.Moore, an Anesthesiologist at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital states: “My rule-of-thumb is that 90% of mothers will have some type of back pain for six weeks to six months–postpartum back pain. During pregnancy, your placenta secretes hormones, which cause laxity of the ligaments in your back. This allows Lordosis, that big arch in the small of your back, which helps you support the weight of a sack of concrete at the front of your belly. After delivery, it takes time to re-tighten and strengthen them. Unfortunately, instead of resting, you now spend 24/7 bending over to lift a 10-pound baby out of cribs and car seats. Take care of your back; you only get one.”
The joint pain as you’ve by now realized is totally normal. I found that using Arnica gel/ointment topically really helped me. Be careful of course not to overdue it if you are breastfeeding. Though I don’t think in small amounts topically there is any harm. Do not apply it on your breast or anywhere your baby may ingest it. It is best to apply when they begin their nap, then you have plenty of time to wash your hands and let it soak in before having to touch your baby again. Arnica doesn’t typically have any smell if you are using an all-natural product with no added scents. It is always best not to use scented products around infants.
It is very important to do some gentle exercise six weeks after delivery. Most doctors recommend waiting six weeks before beginning exercise-so check with your Doctor before beginning any program. Sarah Picot’s postnatal pilates is excellent . She incorporates all the exercises so you can do them with your baby. I find it really effective. It’s only about 30 min long. I also recommend Lynne Robynson’s pilates videos. She explains the effects of pregnancy on our bodies and the altering of our alignment very well.
In most cases many women claim that after a while this pain goes away but that it can take up to a year. By engaging your muscles more consciously you will support your joints better. When we are really tired (like taking care of a newborn) we tend to hang on our joints with our tired muscles and over-exploit them. Also, wrist pain and foot pain are very common at this time. Try some stretches to alleviate pain in these areas. I have helpful ones in my articles entitled, 10 exercises and stretches to do while at the office and A sensible exercise to relieve foot pain. I agree with Dr. Moore’s advice, “Take care of your back, you only get one.” Be patient but pro-active in your healing. It’ll pay off when your baby gets bigger and you need your muscles fully engaged to carry her.
As with any information here or on the web, it is not a substitute for any true medical advise. Please consult your doctor when you are in pain.