Mommy Mistake: Picking Up or Carrying Baby in Awkward Positions
The injury A "thrown-out" or strained back. A back injury often appears to be the consequence of a single wrong move, but it's more often due to months or even years of poor posture and weak core muscles. When you suddenly begin exerting your back in different ways as you care for a baby, the disk between the vertebrae, as well as the muscles and ligaments in the region, can all suffer strain.
Prevent it Whenever you're hoisting baby off the floor -- or picking up her toys, for that matter -- bend at your knees. Hold her close to your belly button as you stand up, and avoid twisting your torso while lifting, which places the spinal area at risk for injury. One of the riskiest moves? Getting baby in and out of the car, Dr. Boissonault says. Lock in the car seat first, without the added weight of the baby. Then sit down next to the seat and turn to face it before buckling her in. If the car seat is next to the door and you can't sit, bend slightly at the knees and lower into a shallow squat while you fasten the straps; this way, you'll be less likely to hunch your back.
Heal it The most important remedy for a strained back is rest, which means lifting your baby as infrequently as possible, says George Piligian, M.D., an occupational medicine specialist at Mt. Sinai Medical Center's Selikoff Clinic, in New York City. The muscles need time to heal, which may take from a few days to a week or more. Heating pads can provide some immediate relief, although you might find ice packs helpful too. (Ice tamps down inflammation, and heat can help loosen up stiff tissues.) If you feel pain radiating down your legs, see a doctor -- you may have a herniated disk. Ask your doctor about a set of strengthening exercises to do at home.