postpartum joint painJoint 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.”

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10 tips for post-natal recoveryRecovering from the birth experience and learning to take care of a newborn can be a very difficult time in a couple’s life.  Most doctors will recommend not to exercise, take baths or have sex in the first six weeks after birth-take any one of those activities away for too long and you will feel stressed!   Feeling dehydrated can also be an issue for women who are breastfeeding.  Whether you had a vaginal or a c-section delivery it is a very significant healing time.  It is important to take care of yourself even in a small way.   Most women feel very fragile and raw after giving birth.  The constant feedings and caring for your newborn which can lead to a lack of sleep can really get you feeling off-center.  You need to help yourself and guide others to help in your recovery.   Here are some ways you can treat yourself when you don’t have a lot of time or energy to make it to the spa.

1.  Your shower-time is a great moment for some “me-time”.  Face massage in the shower can be very clearing and comforting.  Massage around the cheekbones and gently use your finger pads to place pressure on the sinuses. This provides great relief on several levels even for just a few moments.    The heat and steam of course will feel great on your muscles which are very often still tight from labor.

2.  Give yourself a mini facial.  It is recommended to use unscented and even hypo-allergenic products around a newborn.  You should do this while they are napping and wipe off any excess of the product before touching them.  A  gentle exfoliant can be great for replenishing your skin.  Simple baking soda powder is a natural one which can be used once a week.  If you are very sensitive or have any skin issues do not try this.

3.  Moisturize!  Do not forget to use lotion/oil on your feet and body.  Hospital air can really dry you out and so does breastfeeding.  This is also good to help your skin recover from stretch marks.  Most importantly, it feels good and helps your body relax.  Many women suffer from dry heels during and after pregnancy.  In reflexology the heels correspond to our uterus and ovaries.  Again, use unscented and hypo-allergenic products around a newborn.

4.  In case you just don’t have time to moisturize after the shower try Aveeno moisture body wash for dry itchy skin.  It is very effective and is a great time-saver.

5.  Always drink plenty of water.  This seems obvious but it is vitally important to remember to stay hydrated at this time.

6.  Be sure to maintain a healthy and balanced diet that includes plenty of greens to nourish and to replenish your body.

7.  Put the baby in a carrier and slowly and mindfully DANCE around!  This is good for your spirit and the baby will love it.  If they don’t of course stop immediately.  Rhythms and beats are so good for us all as it gets us out of our linear mind and into a more sub-conscious awareness where we can connect with our babies.

8.  Taking a walk with your baby (in a baby carrier) can be very relaxing.  Find a special place you can enjoy with them.  This can become a beautiful ritual to continue together as they grow.  It is a great way to get stimulation for them and exercise for you.  If you are suffering from edema this is a great way to get some much needed circulation to your legs and feet .  It also helps to support attachment parenting practices such as baby-wearing and bonding.

9.  Gentle and safe care of your muscles is very important.  The changes in your body have been quite dramatic and can lead to a lot of tension in the body.  Breastfeeding can be a trying time on our bodies.  Read “Why are my neck and shoulders so tense”  for some helpful tips on how to relieve muscle aches and pains.

10.  Set up a fabulous “nursing station”  Complete with a fan, snacks, water, t.v. remote and an excellent novel.  Yes, you may have time to read during those long late night nursing sessions.  Embrace this time of long feedings and late nights with just you and your baby.  It can be quite magical if you allow it to be and have a “go with the flow” kind of attitude. Read the “Bolsters and pillows for joint support” article for more tips on how to make yourself more comfortable.

Hopefully this will help you feel better and ease the transition into motherhood.  Being a mother is a special job and one that needs a well cared for and nurtured nurturer!