Designing your baby’s nursery can be one of the most enjoyable parts of pregnancy – choosing the themes, colours, and shopping for those cute baby things. But it’s so important to think about you too – considering the ergonomics of your baby’s nursery is essential! Ensuring you have the right equipment, set up in a way that will avoid endless back pain, twinges and muscle aches, will allow you to really enjoy your baby.
During pregnancy your body produces the hormone relaxin which softens the ligaments throughout your body in preparation for childbirth. It takes at least three months after you’ve stopped breastfeeding for your hormones to return to normal. The softening of the ligaments means that your joints are less well supported, and as a result you are more susceptible to pain and injury. Your tummy muscles (the key support for your spine) are stretched considerably during pregnancy and afterwards look and feel more like jelly. As a result they can no longer effectively support your spine. The physical demands of motherhood – lifting, nursing, carrying baby and so on, can further stress a weakened system so ensuring you are well set up ergonomically can make a world of difference by reducing the wear and tear on your joints and the potential for injury.
Here are some important points to consider…
As a new mum you’ll spend most of the first few months feeding your baby so make sure you pick a chair that is really comfortable. Choose one that has arms and supports your back – your feet should always be flat on the floor with a right angle at both your knees and hips. Some nursing chairs have inflatable lumbar supports but alternatively you could use a small boudoir pillow or rolled hand towel in the small of your back. Breastfeeding pillows such as ‘My Brest Friend’ are really helpful as they bring baby towards you, preventing poor posture while feeding and thereby contributing to a more successful feed.
A changing table is a great idea. Ensuring it is at elbow height is key as this will be the optimal height for your back. Alternatively a wide chest of drawers of similar height with a changing mat on top can make an equally good place to change your baby – and the top drawer can hold all those nappies and wipes. Both changing tables and chests of drawers to change baby on avoids repetitive poor bending as well as lifting and lowering the baby off the floor or low bed. Ensure that all that you need is easily to hand to avoid unnecessary bending and twisting. Remember to never leave your baby unattended on a changing surface at height.
When choosing your cot, it’s worth picking one with a drop side so you don’t strain your back bending over to pick up your baby. It’s also a good idea to have a choice of mattress positions/heights which can be adjusted as your baby gets bigger. Travel cots require you to reach a long way down so a Moses basket with a more easily accessible base may be worth considering instead for when you’re on the move.
For more expert help and advice visit www.central-health.com
Specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist
Central Health Physiotherapy