Sunday, February 24, 2013

9:00 PM
One of the great surprises to me about parenthood was how terrible the ergonomics are. Between car seats, cribs, and otherwise having to satisfy the endless and overwhelming needs of a child to be picked up, carried, and held your body just gets torn to shreds. 

I lived 32 years of my life (including four rowing crew) free of any back issues or pain. By contrast, in the four plus years since having a kid, I have spent multiple days immobilized due to back issues or limping along only able to stand upright because I had the benefit of major dosages of muscle relaxants and pain killers. 

My favorite incident happened while I was pregnant with number two. I threw out my back doing who knows what with my eldest and then spent three days in some variation of the fetal / humpback position without the benefit of ANY medicated relief for fear of harming the fetus (that was the same month that I also had to have emergency dental work with no pain killers). Mommy was a very sad mommy.
Double Back Support

Other friends complain of similar or other issues - a torn bicep from carrying the infant car seat, elbow and wrist tendonitis from carrying the baby, etc. Not to mention the random black eye received by the parent that didn't "catch" the book thrown at them by baby, or the bruises and scrapes endured by the parent that shielded their child from a fall to the detriment of any self-preservation instinct. Isn't being a parent difficult enough without the physical trauma?

While we can't avoid all the mishaps and injuries, we CAN do some little things to save ourselves from AVOIDABLE back and other issues. Here are a few things that I have done to "try" to avoid injuring myself so I can be fun and active mommy, not bed-ridden and sore mommy.

  • Ditch the infant car seat. I don't mean, don't use one. I just mean, don't lug the kid around in the car seat unassisted if you can avoid it. Put the car seat in a stroller, or unbuckle the kid and carry him/her separate from the car seat. This will save your back, wrist, and elbow from serious injury. You will walk much more normally as well.
    Notice the yellow handle
  • Use an infant carrier or sling. Holding your child close is an amazing feeling. Standing cockeyed with your stomach and hip jutting out and your bicep burning does not amazing feel. The Ergo and Bjorn with back support can change your life. It is also amazing how productive you can be if you have the use of both hands - at the same time.
  • Avoid bending over - at all cost. I extend this mantra to every aspect of my life with the kids, which in its current form relates to taking my kids on bike rides. For these kinds of escapades I highly encourage you to invest in "the handle". The handle allows you to control, push, steer and otherwise manage your child on his/her bike while still standing upright. In the event that the handle has to be purchased separately and installed on your child's biking equipment, DO IT. I promise you will never regret it.
  • Do core strengthening exercises. Simple exercises like plank pose can work wonders in terms of strengthening your core and increasing your functional strength. Three minutes a day spent doing side plank, forearm plank and full plank pose can save you days of pain and immobility. You can find three minutes a day, I know you can.
  • Establish some boundaries. Now that my daughter is close to five, and weighs about 45 pounds, I make sure that I don't pick her up or carry her often. If I do pick her up, it is only from a totally stable position. While I love a good wrestle as much as anyone, I have to be very careful when I am playing with the kids. I have learned the hard way that my daughter is totally capable of hyper-extending my knees or tweaking my back if she accidentally kicks me or jumps on me from an awkward angle. I am really trying to work with her to understand her own strength, but I have also just learned to be quick to recognize when she is so excited that she is out of control and to remove myself from harms way.
I am still waiting for someone to make a car seat that doesn't kill your back while you load your kid in and out of the car (maybe one that swivels?). I also would love to figure out a way to get my baby in and out of his crib without the associated back pain. At least I have handles on everything that moves though :)

Saddled up
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  1. Co-sleeping is a good solution to the crib-bending over problem. :)