You’ve brought a bundle of joy into the world and your life. And while your happiness knows no bounds, your body is indicative of the birthing experience. Back pain is a very common complaint in the weeks and months after childbirth. In fact, almost half of new mothers report backache at 6 months postpartum. This pain not only affects your physical state but also your mental well-being. So how do you cope with it effectively?

In conversation with TC46, Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Sachin Bhonsle, Senior Consultant, at Fortis Hospital in Mumbai, shares the major causes, cautionary tips and the correlation between post-delivery back pain and breastfeeding.

1. What causes back pain post-delivery?

This is a very common issue, and there are many reasons for it. Weight of the uterus containing the baby will cause pull on the lumbar spine causing mechanical back pain, as in carrying a heavy baby in late pregnancy causes a direct pull on the lower back. More importantly, during pregnancy, the hormonal changes that happen to help the healthy development of the baby, soften all ligaments in the mother’s body, making the spine vulnerable. This is also another cause of back pain. Other reasons like weight gain and change in activity play a role too.

2. Is back pain only common with vaginal births? Is it normal to have back pain after a C-section?

Actually, there isn’t much of a difference. Vaginal birth requires a specific position which can temporarily upset the back. An important point to note is that an epidural injection is usually not responsible for back pain. Many people assume that epidural means lifelong back pain.

3. Can breastfeeding make your back hurt?

Breastfeeding does not make your back hurt if you are keeping your back upright. A new mother who is breastfeeding a baby needs appropriate calcium and vitamin supplements to avoid soft bones, which usually lead to back pain.

4. How soon after delivery can you start exercising to relieve back pain?

After a normal uneventful delivery, your doctor may allow exercises soon. However, you must consult your doctor before you begin exercising of any kind.

5. What are some ways to get rid of back pain postpartum?

Maintain correct posture and follow specific advice of your Obstetrician. You can use warm packs and gentle massages, but avoid painkillers.  Always try and or stand upright to maintain the natural alignment of your spine.

6. When should you consult a doctor for back pain post-delivery?

It is advisable to immediately consult your doctor. While it is common, back pain is not to be considered normal after delivery. Don’t ignore it thinking it will go away on its own. This can further exacerbate your back pain and prolong the pain.

7. What are some cautionary tips for mothers who are suffering from back pain?

Mild mechanical back pain will go away in a few weeks, so simple exercises, fomentation and a massage will do the job, all of which should be done after checking with your doctor. However, if the pain is severe or radiating to the legs, then you must ask your Obstetrician to allow an Orthopaedic opinion.

8. What medicines can you take for back pain while breastfeeding?

This is a very important question. You are not allowed the majority painkillers while breastfeeding. The medicine goes into the breast milk, then to the baby, and can cause permanent damage. Paracetamol may be safe to take but you should never self-medicate. If you need medications you must consult your doctor.

TC46 Shares 5 Yoga Asanas For New Moms

Post-natal yoga can help significantly in women’s recovery from childbirth, on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.

1. Balasana (Child Pose)

Benefits: 

  • Releases tension in the back, shoulders and chest. 
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs.  

Steps:

  1. Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels.
  2. With exhalation bend forward and touch your head to the floor.
  3. Stretch your arms towards the front of the yoga mat, palms placed facing down on the mat.

2. Marjariasana (Cat Stretch)

Benefits: 

  • This pose helps relieve stress, increase spinal flexibility and mobility and create emotional balance. 
  • Cat Pose mostly focuses on stretching the lower back, but the movement also stretches the muscles of the hips, upper back, and lungs.

Steps:

  1. Come onto your fours. Your wrist and shoulder must be inline and hip and knees as well. It should look like a tabletop posture. 
  2. With an exhalation, draw your abdomen in and spine up (round your back out).
  3. Point the crown of your head to the floor. Don’t force your chin onto your chest.
  4. With an inhalation, look up and spine down. Repeat it a few times.

3. Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Benefits: 

  • Strengthens muscles of ankles, hips, thighs, shoulders, triceps, inner armpits and chest. 
  • Strengthens back muscles. 

Steps:

  1. Sit in dandasana (back straight and legs extended in front) 
  2. Bend your right leg and place the right foot under your left hip.
  3. Bend your left leg and draw it towards your right hip.
  4. Your left knee must be over your right knee. 
  5. Raise the left arm above your head and bend the elbow. Simultaneously, bring the right arm behind your back and interlock both hands.
  6. Stay as long as you are comfortable.
  7. Relax and repeat for the other leg.

4. Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose)

Benefits: 

  • Stretches the back of the neck, front torso, and back of the legs. 
  • Regulates blood flow. 
  • Relieves swollen ankles and varicose veins.

Steps:

  1. Lie down on your back (supine position) with legs together.
  2. Raise the legs up keeping them straight.
  3. Support the lower back with hands, keeping elbows on the floor. Lower body elevated. 
  4. Remain steady for some time.
  5. Inhale and exhale completely, hold the breath and pumping of the stomach.

5. Baddakonasan (Butterfly Pose)

Benefits: 

  • This pose helps to calm the mind and improve blood circulation.

Steps:

  1. Sit on a mat and stretch out your legs.
  2. Fold your knees and bring your feet to the centre. Then straighten your back.
  3. Using your palms hold your feet for a few seconds. Release.
  4. Repeat this about 4 times.