Wrist Pain with a New Baby

Congrats!!! The little one is finally here!

As a new mom, you’re busy settling into the routine of motherhood. The last thing you need slowing you down is wrist pain! Luckily, there are some easy tricks and tips that can help you feel better and prevent further injury to your body.

After childbirth, hormone levels are fluctuating, pressure in your body changes from a significant loss of fluid, and you’re likely tired—all the time. This can be a tricky combination, particularly when you’re now having to lift a squirmy, fragile baby throughout the day. Additionally, repetitive movements throughout the day (breast or bottle feeding, lifting/lowering your baby, carrying car seats and diaper bags), create the perfect recipe for “repetitive stress” injuries of the muscles and nerves surrounding the forearms and wrists.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways to protect you from pain, or to decrease pain if it’s already started.

While feeding baby:

  • Use a nursing pillow (i.e. Boppy, My Brest Friend [www.boppy.com, www.mybrestfriend.com). This will help support the weight of baby so your hands don’t have to!
  • Allow yourself to recline back, and support the weight of baby on your body, rather than in your arms
  • Use arm rests or pillows under your elbows for support
  • Keep your fingers/hands relaxed and shoulders back. You can even think about tightening your abs – this not only helps tighten up that baby belly, but it provides more support to your spine which in turn helps to support your neck/shoulders/arms.
  • If bottle feeding, be sure to keep your wrist in a neutral position (knuckles in line with forearm) – try holding the bottle from underneath rather than over the top and keep your elbows tucked in.baby

When lifting/carrying baby:

  • Get in the habit of tightening your abs and pulling your shoulders back, this gives you a stronger core and makes it easier for your arms and hands to do their job efficiently
  • Get close to your baby. The more you have to reach with your arms, the more stress you place on your wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
  • Train yourself early on to carry baby on both sides, or in the middle using both arms. Holding your baby too much on just one side places increased stress that side.
  • If you’ll be needing to hold your baby for more than a couple of minutes, use a baby carrier (i.e. Ergo, Baby Bjorn, Moby Wrap) to help distribute the weight from your arms to your trunk.

Here are some great exercises to help prevent overuse:

Wrist flexor/extensor stretches: Start with right arm stretched out in front of you, palm down. Grasp fingers of right hand with left hand. Keeping right elbow straight gently pull fingers down towards the floor until you feel a comfortable stretch in the forearm. Hold for 15-20 seconds, then relax. Repeat with palm turned up towards the ceiling.

Plank: Get on the floor on your hands and knees. Tighten your abdominal muscles (think about pulling the belly button up towards your spine). Extend one leg back, then the other, until you are in a pushup position. Hold for 2-3 deep breaths, up to 1 minute as tolerated.

Exercises to do with your Newborn

Baby Kisses (pushup): With baby lying on the floor, get into pushup position, either on your knees or toes. Bend elbows to lower yourself towards the floor, giving baby a kiss when you get to the bottom. Be sure to keep your abs tight and your spine straight and long!

Baby press (chest press): Lie on your back, with baby on your chest/stomach. Holding baby around the ribs, under the arms, press the baby up towards the ceiling, then lower back down for a kiss. Repeat 5-10 times as baby allows!

Baby reach arms and legs (bird dog): Start on hands and knees. Tighten abdominals. Reach right arm forward and left leg backward. Hold for a breath, then switch arm/leg. You can hold a rattle or baby’s favorite toy in each hand to keep baby interested. Wiggling the fingers works too!

If you have ongoing pain, numbness or any other symptoms see your doctor for apropriate care. Physical Therapy may be warrented. Go to Sports Wellness Center for more information and subscribe to our bi-monthly blog for ongoing fitness and wellness tips.

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