How To Fix Wrist and Hand Pain for New Mothers

As you welcome your newborn into the world, the last thing you want to be concerned about is pain and injury.

As you welcome your newborn into the world, there’s so much to get accustomed to — the last thing you want to be concerned about is pain and injury. Unfortunately, pain and injury is common in new mothers and can put extra strain on what is already a challenging time. A particularly common condition we see in the clinic is wrist and forearm pain in new mothers.

So what causes it?

After you and your newborn come home from the hospital, there are a multitude of factors that can impact your risk of pain and injury.

Your body will be weaker following pregnancy and labour, especially in your stabilising muscles (i.e. core and pelvic floor). This often means that other muscles in your body will work to take up the slack, like using your arms and back muscles to do all your lifting. When this gets too much, it can lead to overloading, which leads to developing pain and injury.

Another factor to be aware of is sleep deprivation. It takes time to establish a regular sleep and feeding pattern for mother and newborn. During this time, mothers are much more at risk of developing an acute muscle or joint injury simply due to poor rest minimising recovery time for the body.

Lastly, having a newborn introduces many new and awkward postures in your life. Even as you adapt to these new demands, the strain on the body will only increase as the baby grows in size and weight.

So what can be done to prevent wrist pain and injury?

When you’ve got a lot on your plate, simple methods are best!

The main cause of strain on the wrists and hands comes from your posture when holding your newborn and while feeding your newborn. Optimising your technique with these activities will go a long way to reducing pain.

While holding your newborn, avoid rounding your shoulders or slouching forward, as this will build up strain and tension in the neck and shoulder muscles. You also want to ensure both of your wrists and hands remain in a neutral position.

It is common for people to curl their hands when holding babies to cradle them close. However, having your wrists in that curled position for long periods of time will put strain on the forearm muscles and nerves in the arms.

It’s better to maintain a neutral wrist posture wherever possible — this means not too much angle in flexion or extension, but a straighter position. This is a strong posture for the wrist and hand that allows the muscles of the forearm to do their job well.

The other common holding posture is to hold your newborn in one arm while doing another activity with your dominant hand. This can not only lead to overloading of the wrist and hand on the carrying side, but also an asymmetrical body posture.

Instead, try to change between sides as you are able to balance the forces on your body.

When feeding your newborn, trial different feeding positions to find what’s most comfortable for you and your baby. The Australian Breastfeeding Association has a great guide of different options, from semi-reclined feeding positions to even lying down on your side:

Whenever possible, try to support the baby’s weight with pillows so you aren’t holding their full weight on your arms for the entire feed.

As above, avoid slouched postures as much as you can and keep your wrists in a neutral position to prevent build of strain and tension.

Try these posture changes to ensure that pain and injury are the least of your concerns when caring for your newborn. If you are still suffering from wrist and hand pain, we can help you reduce pain and get you on track. Call us at the clinic or book in online for a thorough assessment today.

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