In my time as a Massage Therapist I have come across many ladies with what I call ‘Mum Posture’. It wasn’t until I became a Mum and started living the day to day life first hand that I realized the full extent of what causes this.
From breastfeeding your little one, to carrying them on your hip for hours and forever hanging over the cot trying to get them to nap. This combined with lack of sleep or time to recharge our own batteries, it is no wonder our bodies end up tired and sore.
When our shoulders are hunched this has a follow on effect on our pec, back and neck muscles causing pain and sometimes headaches.
In keeping with the theme of Mothers Day I thought I would share with you a few stretches to help with that ‘Mum Posture’. I’ve also shared some tips I’ve discovered along the way and things you can do to help yourself!
Mum Stretch #1 – Pec Stretch and Thoracic Rotation
This is a handy stretch to do anytime you are feeling hunched over. Grab a broom stick and bring it up and over your head. You will feel this stretch in your chest and shoulders. You can add to this by slowly rotating your torso to the right and then the left to gain some thoracic (upper back) mobility.
Mum Stretch #2 – Hip Flexor Stretch
This one is a great all rounder stretch to help your hips and lower back out. Keep your back straight, bend on one knee and slowly push your pelvis forward until you can feel the stretch in your upper thigh/hip of the leg that is on the ground.
Hold for at least 20 seconds before releasing and stretching the opposite side.
Mum Stretch #3 – Childs Pose
This is my go to stretch for any time of the day. Feeling sore, child’s pose. Feeling stressed, child’s pose. Baby wont sleep? child’s pose together!
Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Spread your knees as wide as comfortable, keeping the tops of your feet on the floor with the big toes touching. Bring your belly to rest between your thighs and your forehead to the floor. You can either stretch your arms in front of you with the palms toward the floor or bring your arms back alongside your thighs with the palms facing upwards. Do whichever feel more comfortable for you.
Hold for as long as is comfortable.
Mum Stretch #4 – Foam Roller/ Towel along spine stretch
This is my go to stretch when i feel like i need to open up my chest. Place your foam roller or a rolled up towel vertically on the ground. Next lay your spine along the length of the roller/towel. Make sure your head is supported by either resting it on the roller/towel or by having a pillow handy. Stretch your arms out horizontally to feel a stretch in the chest and shoulders. Lie there for as long as comfortable to feel a good stretch.
Mum tip #1 – When feeding your baby start off my setting yourself up properly (in the first couple of months your baby may take 30-45 minutes to feed, make yourself comfortable!) Make sure your baby is well supported by placing a couple of pillows underneath them, this will take the pressure off your shoulders trying to keep them up towards your chest. Also whist feeding your baby try not to look down at them too much. I know it’s hard as they are so darn cute, but this puts an unnecessary strain on your neck.
Mum tip #2 – Invest in a nappy bag backpack! There is so much that you need to take for a baby when you go out and about and the nappy bag can get very heavy with nappies, changes of clothes, wipes, bottles ect. The backpack allows this load to be distributed across the back and both shoulders rather than the weight hanging off one of your shoulders. If you already have a nappy bag you love, try to lighten the load or put the strap over your head so the load is carried across your body.
Mum tip #3 – Do one small thing for yourself, everyday.
One huge thing I learnt when becoming a mum is that you cannot pour from an empty cup. When you are exhausted, tired and stressed there is no way you can care for anybody else let alone a little one that relies on you for everything. I am not saying you need to book weekly spa days (although that would be amazing), it can be something as small as putting baby in a carrier or pram and going for a walk around the block. The fresh air will do you both good and your baby will love watching the birds and the trees. You could also do a 30 minute stretch or yoga session, meditations, mindfulness coloring or go and visit a friend for a cuppa (I guarantee they will love the baby cuddles, and this gives you a mini break).
We need to look after, not only our bodies but also our mental health.
*Remember, the baby blues can be normal in the first couple of days/weeks after birth. Prolonged feelings of sadness, guilt, unworthiness and regret are not. Please find some help if this something you are experiencing. You can reach out for help from your GP and I have listed some great resources below.
PANDA- https://www.panda.org.au/ – Helpline- 1300 726 306
Beyond Blue – https://www.beyondblue.org.au/– 1300 22 4636