Lift Like A Mother
As a fairly new mother, I have to say that I am extremely humbled and honored to be one of the select few that can call themselves Mom to someone. Since my membership started 20 exhausting and happy months ago, it is no surprise that I have a whole new respect for the women in my life that are moms and my own SuperWoman Mother. I now understand what it feels like to look at someone, want to give that person everything good in the world, and expect absolutely nothing in return- except maybe an occasional smile that lets me know I’m doing something right. I know what it’s like to be hungry when your toddler wants your lunch, and you happily give it to him, watching with pride as he gobbles up every last bite. I know what it feels like to have your arms and back aching so badly from carrying around a little body, but not wanting to let go because it feels so good to hold them just a little bit longer. I’ve been there when your back hurts so badly from using poor lifting mechanics, but you have to put baby into the crib and lift that infant car seat out of the car anyways. Life goes on. As moms (and dads, but this is Mother’s Day), we readily sacrifice everything, including our bodies, for the betterment of our children. And we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves, putting our backs, necks, shoulders, and arms at risk for injuries.
“You can’t pour from an empty glass.” And you definitely can’t take care of others to your fullest if you are in pain or using poor mechanics to get the job done. Two of the most challenging movements when lifting a baby are when 1) lifting into and out of the crib and 2) releasing and lifting an infant carrier car seat from the car. I keep imagining that one day a brilliant engineer will design a more ergonomically safe (for the parent) infant car seat. But, until that day, here are some helpful tips to protect yourself while lifting your most precious cargo:
- Position yourself as close as you can to your baby as you prep to pick up, and don’t twist with the low back (see #2). Do not pick up your child with your arms outstretched, as this is how many injuries occur.
- NO TWISTING with the low back. Instead of standing outside of the car and twisting to reach in and buckle, try stepping into the car or kneeling on the rail guard. Same goes to lifting out of the crib. Lift first, then turn.
- Brace and contract your abs FIRST before you actually start to lift!! So many lifting injuries happen because the muscles turn on AFTER the LOAD is applied. If you are having trouble getting your muscles to kick on (especially in the early months, soon after birth) see a specialist, such as a physical therapist, to help retrain those muscles to work again.
- Lift with your LEGS and BUTT, not your BACK. We’ve all heard this, so it seems obvious, but very difficult to do when lifting a crying baby out of a crib set at a low height. If you have to, consider positioning a small step on the outside of the crib to help with this.
- Do not rush. Pay attention to your body mechanics and posture.
- Keep in mind that your child is slowly gaining weight, so you might not even notice the gradual change that will mean lifting mechanics become even more important.
⬇️ LIFT LIKE A MOTHER PODCAST ⬇️
Life happens, and we understand when injuries happen or when muscles get weak. If you feel like you need help with your mechanics or help retraining and strengthening your back muscles, please reach out to a skilled physical therapist. Maybe, you just need to see a massage therapist to treat yourself and relax those aching muscles. Let US be the ones to take care of YOU. It IS Mother’s Day! We can help you get…STRONG AS A MOTHER!
-Dr. Stephanie Garcia, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS, USAW
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