10 Ways to Prevent Back Pain After Delivery

Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD

Oct. 17, 2001 -- You thought that back pain would go away once you delivered your baby. Well, guess again. It often comes right back, but experts have developed 10 ways to help you prevent the back pain that often comes with being a new mom.

Close to 50% of women have back pain while pregnant, which usually goes away after a week or two -- only to return again.

"At first, new moms are lifting seven to 10 pounds 50 times a day, and by 12 months, they likely are chasing and lifting a 17-pound child. Two years later, mothers will be lifting a 25-pound to 30-pound child," says Alan M. Levine, MD, in a news release. Levine is clinical professor of orthopaedic surgery at University of Maryland in Baltimore.

Levine, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, developed 10 back pain prevention tips for new moms and presented them at a meeting of back pain experts.

  • Begin exercising soon after delivery to restore abdominal and back muscle tone. Ten minutes of stretching exercises on the floor each day will restore hip and back flexibility. This can be done when the baby is taking a nap.
  • Try to get back to your normal weight within six weeks after giving birth.
  • Do not stretch your arms out to pick up your baby. Bring him or her close to your chest before lifting. Avoid twisting your body.
  • To pick a child up from the floor, bend at your knees (not at your waist), squat down, tighten your stomach muscles, and lift with your leg muscles.
  • Remove the high chair tray when you are trying to put the baby in or take the baby out of the high chair.
  • When picking the child up out of the crib, put the side down and pull the child toward you rather than lifting over the top.
  • Consider using a "front pack" to carry the baby when you are walking.
  • Do not carry a child on your hip; this overloads the back muscles.
  • To avoid upper back pain from breastfeeding, bring the baby to your breast rather than bending over to the baby. Use an upright chair rather than a soft couch.
  • Four-door vehicles are better than two-door vehicles for ease of placing the child in the car seat. With the car seat positioned in the middle of the back seat, do not stand outside the car, reach in, and, at arm's length, try to put the baby in the seat. Instead, kneel on the back seat to place the baby into the car seat.

One important note for women who have had their baby by C-section: You should wait six weeks and get permission from your doctor before you begin exercising, Levine says.