How To Pick A Baby Up Without Straining Your Back

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Leigh Anderson writes for and has done some research on dealing with the aches and pains that come along with caring for newborn babies and infants. The six-part series is for the Postpartum Pain Clinic.

For the mother specifically, pregnancy and childbirth cause a certain amount of pain. The delivery obviously being one of the most painful experiences for a woman and breastfeeding can be difficult too. However, caring for a newborn can cause all kinds of neck, back, shoulder and wrist pains from carrying around the new baby and all its paraphernalia.

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Speaking to Stephanie Leaf, a physical therapist and the director of New Leaf Physical Therapy, Leigh complied a series of articles offering the best advice for new parents on avoiding and treating pain caused by caring for a newborn and how to protect your musculoskeletal system from undue strain.

So far she has covered how to hold a baby, how to change a diaper, how to carry a diaper bag, how to nurse a baby and how to push a stroller without causing or further aggravating back and neck pain.

This week, for the sixth and final segment, she deals with how to pick up a baby without straining your back.

I think it’s best to start with what NOT to do. Stephanie says “Don’t bend over your straight legs and round your back.  Don’t over-extend or lock your elbows, and don’t poke your head out. Don’t try to clutch the baby with just your fingers—get your whole hand in on the action.”

So her advice on the best way to pick up a child is this “Bend at your hips and knees to not strain the lower back. Scoop the baby from below with your entire hand to use your core and arm muscles and not strain your upper back, wrists, and lower back.”

Breathing is important here too and she says it is best to breath out when you are coming back into a standing position because this helps the core muscles to give support to the joints.

For anyone who may have taken a manual handling course on how to lift something from a ground position, the principle is the same. When lifting a baby from the floor, bend your knees and squat down, keeping your back as straight as possible. Lift and pull your baby close to your body before straightening the knees to stand.

This movement allows your legs to take the strain as opposed to your back and gives a more secure body positioning.

Stephanie also said, “When I was lifting babies, I tried to get them close to my torso as quickly as possible to minimize that awful drag on the upper back and shoulders. The same went for the baby carriers—the more snugly they held the baby to the chest, the more comfortable.”

If you are interested in learning more from Stephanie Leaf, you can find all her helpful guidelines on . If you are looking to treat a new mother to a gift, Leigh recommends a massage.


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