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  • Sep 13 2014

    Sore from holding baby?

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    As new a new mother you are probably wanting to hold your baby constantly. No shame in that love mission, however you undoubtedly feel quite tired from hanging on to your little bundle of joy on and off all day. Lifting and holding babies, bags, car seats, strollers and other baby-related paraphernalia, time and time again can take its toll on your hands, wrists, and arms. Luckily, there are things you can do to alleviate the pain and soreness.

    What’s wrong with Me?

    You might be experiencing some numbness, muscle weakness, or tingling in the hand or fingers…or rubbing and stretching your arms and hands in an effort to make them feel better after doing so much for your baby. What you are experiencing could possibly be early signs of carpal tunnel syndrome or DeQuervain’s syndrome or even tendonitis. DeQuervain’s condition causes painful inflammation resulting from chronic overuse of the tendons and sheaths on the thumb side of the wrist. This often painful ailment happens when there is excess pressure put on the median nerve in the wrist.

    What are Causes and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel?

    • The main nerve that serves your hand and fingers is called the Median Nerve. It passes through the Carpal Tunnel, a narrow space at the front of the wrist. The tendons that bend the fingers and wrist pass through the carpal tunnel so space is limited. Any swelling (in the case of pregnancy and post natal – caused by water retention) in the region will compress or irritate the Median Nerve and interfere with nerve impulses.
    • A loss of sensation or of pins and needles in the hands, wrists and or fingers (especially the thumb and first and second fingers) with sometimes accompanying numbness and weakness.
    • Occasionally the whole hand and forearm are affected and it can occur from conception, throughout pregnancy and sometimes well into the post birth period.

    Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take as well as incorporating simple ways to relieve it.

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    How did this Happen?!

    As though you don’t have enough to worry about as a new mother, now you have to concern yourself with whether or not you have DeQuervain’s or carpal tunnel syndrome. If you have been lifting a lot of awkward or heavy objects, holding your baby for long periods of time, or sleeping in odd positions, it’s possible the repetitiveness has done more harm than good. The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome build up over time due to continual strain on your hands, wrists, and arms. Being proactive about your overall health means being conscientious of the condition of your entire body. Still, you will have to eventually speak with a doctor or chiropractor to find out if you truly have DeQuervain’s carpal tunnel syndrome. In the meantime you need to be taking steps to prevent the syndrome from ruining your ability to properly care for your new baby.

    Are there any Risks?!

    The best plan of action to take is to start preventative measures right away. The longer you wait to do something about the condition of your hands, wrists, and arms, the more serious your pain issues could become. The beginning stages of DeQuervain’s and carpal tunnel are uncomfortable, but fortunately they are also avoidable and treatable…while on the other hand (no pun intended), experiencing the symptoms for prolonged periods of time could lead to chronic pain.

    Dr. Louis Catalano, attending physician at the C.V. Starr Hand Surgery Center at St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan says, ”[DeQuervains] arises from repetitive lifting activities using improper technique…as with so many new mothers, and a few new dads, the ”repetitive lifting’ is the everyday act of constantly picking up baby.”

    ”When you’re scooping your child up, after you get fatigued you tend to let your wrists drop to the ground,” Dr. Catalano said, ”and when your fingers are angled down, that’s what’s causing those tendons to stretch over the bone.” There are no statistics on the number of women afflicted, but Dr. Catalano estimates that he sees two to three new patients a week with DeQuervain’s Tendonitis.

    New mothers are particularly susceptible, specialists say, because the fluid gain they experience during pregnancy causes the tendons to swell and chafe against the surrounding encasement. The tendons and joints also become lax toward the end of pregnancy to give a woman extra flexibility during birth. In this compromised state, the tendons and muscles are suddenly required to pick up and put down a heavy baby many times a day.

    What can I do about it?!

    There are numerous ways in which you can both prevent and treat the aching symptoms that you may be experiencing from lifting baby and car seat and so forth.

    • First and foremost, you should try to use only ergonomically-designed tools and equipment if you can. This will help to reduce the amount of strain placed on your hands, wrists, and arms.
    • Secondly, try to continue your use of ergonomically-designed items throughout the day, even when you are not caring for your little one. Things like split keyboards and wrist braces could drastically help reduce your residual motherhood pains at the office.
    • Lastly, remember to take frequent breaks when you are doing strenuous activity and always give it a rest when you start to feel pain or tingling anywhere. Treating your carpal tunnel syndrome with at-home remedies is a real possibility when you know what you’re doing. There are multiple massages that can be used to reduce the pain of new-mother-carpal-tunnel-syndrome. Keep in mind that you may not have carpal tunnel at all and may instead be simply experiencing extreme muscle exertion.
    • Find a chiropractor that know about the maternal body. Wrists and elbows issues usually stem from the neck so a good adjustment works wonders!

    When exercising, painful positions should be avoided and good wrist alignment maintained monitored throughout your exercise sessions.

    As new moms we are often carrying a baby in our dominant arm, as we complete all of life’s work with our non-dominant arm. We learn to cook dinner, brush our teeth, email and vacuum all using one side of the body. The constant lifting and carrying of an increasingly heavy baby is hard on the wrist. If you are experiencing this pain or looking to avoid DeQuervain’s, following are a few tips to get you through this new mommy wrist pain:

    • Immobilize the affected wrist: It seems impossible to stop lifting or carrying your baby, but finding tools to help with the work can alleviate some of the overuse.
    • Immobilize with a Wrist Brace: although there are many options online, often you can find a suitable brace at your local grocery or drug store, giving you the ability to test it out first.
      Start holding your baby on the opposite side. This can be difficult, but will pay off as your baby becomes a heavy toddler.
    • Use a baby carrier that is ergonomically comfortable and that your baby is happy in. I had four carriers that I used for different situations. The Beco Baby Carrier is my personal top choice since I tried the Baby Bjorn and many (and I mean I invested in MANY) different slings, none of which were ideal for me or my baby’s level of comfort. I find that the Beco carrier distributes the weight on the body well and are comfortable for infants.
    • Massage to the forearms will bring healthy blood back into the surrounding area and will help to maintain proper biomechanical balance. If you can, GET A MASSAGE – do it monthly, mothering is HARD WORK. Self forearm massage is also a beneficial option.
    • Cortisone shots are the last resort, unfortunately, and would be administered by a Doctor.
      Relax and Take a Deep Breath: taking the time to de-stress on a daily basis is so important as a Mom. Meditation and self-reflection, however brief, can make the difference between losing yet more sleep and unhealthy flare-ups in the body due to stress.  Click HERE for Mommy Morsels Mantras.
    carrier

    Try a Baby Carrier (that is easy on your back and shoulders!) to relieve wrist pain.


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