New Parent Series: Ergonomics and Tiny Humans

To any parent, the words “ergonomics” and “baby” do not seem to go together.  The complaints of back pain, neck pain, shoulder tension are all very common things that we hear about as health care providers at CURAVITA.  The reality is, there are a fair amount of things parents will do through the day that are not in the best interest of their physical health.  Some of these things can be modified to reduce the strain on your body.  Some, you just have to roll with the punches so-to-speak.


The car seat dilemma.

A car seat is meant to be just that: a car seat.  It is not meant to be a carrier.  That being said, no one wants to wake a sleeping baby and often a car seat will quickly turn into a carrier.  Car seats are big, bulky and awkward.  They are not the most comfortable thing to cart around.  Here are a couple things you can do to make easier on you, the parent:

  • Clip the car seat onto the stroller whenever possible.  If you will be walking for any distance and able to take the stroller where you are going, use it.  If heading to a store, take advantage of the shopping cart.  It’s easier on you to offload the car seat into something you can push. 
  • Lift with caution. Due to the awkward shape of a car seat, it can be challenging to lift in an ergonomic fashion.  Squat down with your arm hand out flat.  Hook your arm through the car seat handlebar.  Keep your elbow by the handlebar and reach down toward the bottom of the car seat. Stand up while using your legs to lift the weight. To see a video demonstration, click here.  This can be easier on your body than other methods. 


Getting baby into the crib.  

Using a bassinet is a little easier as the sides are lower and you can get into a partial squat to lower your child in.  When your child moves into a crib, things can be a little more challenging. Cribs are great for providing a safe environment for a child to sleep in.  The sides prevent them from falling out as children become more and more active. However, the distance between the mattress and you with the crib in the way, can be challenging on your body. Face the crib, keep a slight bend in your knees and try to position the baby closer to you before lifting. Make sure to keep your core engaged as you lift.  Some will find using a footstool immensely helpful.  As you baby becomes more mobile and the mattress is set to its lowest position, they will be able to pull themselves up and stand up which becomes very helpful for your back.


Breastfeeding/bottle feeding. 

So many parents come in with an aching neck and upper back from feeding.  With breastfeeding, using a reclined position can be helpful and a lot easier on mom and baby.  We are lucky in Ottawa to have great resources to aid moms in their breastfeeding journey.  If you are in need of help from a lactation consultant, MilkFace is a great place to check out.   When bottle feeding, it is important to switch sides.  This can be helpful for the babies development but also for the parent doing the feeding with reducing repetitive strain.

Change table:  Get one. 

Sure, you can make do with changing a baby on the floor or on the bed but this involves awkward positioning.  Baby will be at an ideal height on a change table for your neck, back and shoulders.  Make sure to have supplies within reach whether on a shelf beside, above or in a drawer so you do not have to walk away from the change table.  Babies love to roll around so you do not want them to roll off by accident.


Remember, being a parent is hard, fun, rewarding, and challenging in multiple ways.  Be kind to yourself.  You’re not going to everything perfectly, including following the ergonomic advice above.  It’s ok.  Making little changes and trying to be consistent does go a long way.  If things do go sideways and you find yourself in pain and discomfort, our team of healthcare providers are here to help.  


Stay tuned for our next blog post in the New Mom Series: When To Get Back To Exercise.