personal breastfeeding experiences

3 02 2010

I wanted to jot down my breastfeeding experiences – … again, more for my own records than anything… It has been about 7 months since C2 was weaned but, I think it’s always good to share — especially for new moms looking for encouragement, support, and/or advice feeding choices, the perils and the joys of breastfeeding.

Pre-C1

I was certainly on top of the “breast is best” literature… attended a breastfeeding clinic at the hospital where I was going to deliver.  My plan:  see how it goes – try for a week or so; if not good, switch to pumping; if not good switch to the bottle.  You can safely assume that I wasn’t 100% commited to a plan to breastfeed.  And, if all did go well — I figured I’d hang in there for about 6 months.  Frankly, the thought of breastfeeding really freaked me out — I just couldn’t get my head around it!  It was literally a day or so before C1’s arrival (he came 3 weeks early… definitely a testament to his personality!) that I made a firm decision to stick with breastfeeding — seriously, how hard could it be?

Latching C1

C1 took about 30 hours to latch well enough to get some milk… the most frustrating 30 hours of my life!  I had an emergency C-section, so fortunately we were in the hospital for about 3 days and had the support of a wonderful, persistent nursing staff (at St. Joe’s in Toronto if you’re interested) — by the time the Lactation Consultant got to me to check out our technique, C1 was happily nursing.  Yay!  But, was I happily nursing?  On about day 4 when my milk came in…. arrrgh!  The agony began!  Engorged breasts (bigger than my newborn’s head), cracked nipples, pain, pain, pain!!  And he was a hungry little boy (strange — he hardly eats now!) – frequent feedings about every 2 hours…. lasting about 20 minutes.  (Although I will never forget the time he held my mom & I “hostage” in the nursing room at Chapters for almost an hour!).  Lansinoh eased the pain – and it took about 6 weeks for the discomfort to completely subside.  There was definitely one side that was always more painful than the other.   Oh — and I have to mention… I hated wearing breast pads.  Yuck!  From an OT, posture perspective, the breastfeeding pillow (I had a Boppy®) is essential to maintain reasonable posture while breastfeeding (again another OT-related blog!).  I bought Bravado nursing bras… and they were great — nice closures…. variety of styles, colours, and materials… in fact, I wore them through both breastfeeding experiences.

Feeding C1

C1 maintained the 2-hour frequency, but by the time he was 3 months, reduced the time to about 10 minutes… very efficient little dude!  Breastfeeding was easy… and I quickly got over any modesty issues that I might have had… breastfeeding is so in vogue – everyone does it everywhere.  (That said, I’m happy I don’t have to do it in public anymore!  Lol!)  Somewhere around 5 months, I fed him almost exclusively lying down — and, despite the experts opinion about nursing babies to sleep… I pretty much always nursed him to sleep.

I had a few clogged ducts.  First time it happened, I experienced the chills, fever, achiness, and then unbelievable rock-hard, sore breast – fortunately, my mom was visiting at the time… it was brutal!  I tried the frozen cabbage remedy — ummm, it just left me smelling like cabbages.  Blech!  Hot compresses and advil… firm massage to work out the blockage.  After that, I had a few more, but could anticipate them by the tenderness I would start to feel, so was more pro-active…. never had a full-blown case of mastitis.

Attempted pumping a few times in the first 6 months — but, as many of you have experienced, barely got any milk from pumping — and on top of that, C1 would not take a bottle.  So, we were stuck together… joined at the boob!  Which, of course, on hindsight was not the most horrible thing — he was the most adorable baby boy.

Then the question of how long?  Nursing was really a comfort for C1 and I didn’t find it overly burdensome.  I planned to nurse for a year.  At the year mark, when I had planned to return to work, I thought I would keep nighttime feedings indefinitely.  It turned out that it was just a bad season for stomach bugs… so every time C1 would get a bug, I would boost his nursing schedule to increase his fluids.  (By the way, as far as I’m concerned… and this is just anecdotal… breastfeeding did nothing to boost their immune systems – both boys still got bad colds, stomach bugs in their first years – and they continue to pick up virtually every bug that comes their way when in contact with other children – to be fair, I suppose neither have ever had an infection that needed to be treated with antibiotics – but, I do know of many other breastfed babies who did.)

Finally, at 18 months, it was time to end our breastfeeding relationship!  Afterall… I was 4 months pregnant with C2… I would need a break!

Feeding C2

I thought that breastfeeding the second time around would go much more smoothly – it had only been about 4 or 5 months since I had stopped, so I figured my nipples would still be ready for pain-free latching.  Wrong!!!  Another 6 weeks of the same agony of latching!  C2 did latch within 4 hours of birth (we had an elective C-section this time and again, same amazing nursing support) – but, I was a bit lazy (my friend warned me about this!) – assuming that I knew exactly what I was doing, I wasn’t careful with my technique and allowed him to have a poor latch – resulting in the painful, cracked nipples once again.

Overall, C2 had virtually the same feeding schedule – every 2 hours, 10 minutes at a time.  He was a heavier baby, so holding him was a bit more challenging… tendinitis set into my shoulder and elbow the same way it had set in with C1.  A few more painfully clogged milk ducts along the way.  I never even attempted to introduce a bottle – nursing was all too convenient.  Both boys started their “sippy cup training” at around 5 months — although it would take about 4 months to master.  My intention was to wean at 12 months.  However, with C2, I could tell that he could really take it or leave it.  Although I had a 12-month end date in mind… he didn’t.  His latch deteriorated significantly by 11 months to the point where he was just biting and tugging on me.  *OW*!  I couldn’t go any longer.  Weaning was easy and seemed completely natural.

The net result?   My experiences with breastfeeding were extremely positive, in spite of the pain and tears… I think there needs to be more said to prepare new moms for how uncomfortable it can be in the beginning… it’s not 100% glamorous and persistence is necessary!  But, there are lots of supports in the community to access.  I am not fanatical about breastfeeding — I admit that I really liked it for the convenience more than anything… Did I feel that I bonded with my boys?  Sure… but, I think their individual personalities were strong contributing factors — I would say that I bonded far more with C2 than C1 through our breastfeeding journey, even though he weaned earlier — he’s just that kind of a guy.

Wow… so that’s my essay on breastfeeding!  Let me know if you have any questions!

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new adventure

29 01 2010

You will not believe this… I mean, I can hardly believe it myself.  I am setting out on an entrepreneurial adventure.  Where to start?  Well, at the beginning, naturally!

I have started to transform my digital photography into wearable art… I have two themes that I am particularly passionate about: macro photography (which usually consists of flowers) and C1’s pre-school artwork.  It is the latter that I am very excited about.

Just before Christmas, I had photographed the myriad of paintings C1 brought home from pre-school.  When I started editing and cropping these photos… well, they were simply amazing!  P & I both thought — hey!  These are really good (and C1 comes by it naturally since his paternal grandfather was an artist).

I had heard of Scrabble® tile necklaces — in fact, mycafelatte gifted one to me.   When I started google-ing Scrabble® tile necklaces, I realized that I could make them myself… and to make them my own, use my original photography AND C1’s artwork!  In a mad rush, literally in the days before Christmas I created and assembled necklaces and super-strong magnets for the Grammas and aunts – they cherished having their own piece of C1’s creations… and his artwork for their refrigerators.

After that I thought… hmmmm…. I love these pendants.  Maybe others would love them, too.  ESPECIALLY MOMS who want to preserve their budding Picasso’s artwork in a unique way or gift them to relatives as well.

To organize this little (errr … kind of big) adventure, I have opened up an online shop on Etsy, a community for artisans and crafters of handmade goods.  It’s really an amazing venue with over 170,000 personal shops selling everything from knitted crafts, garments, handbags, jewelry, creative baby crafts, crafting supplies…  you can link to DeirdreSpeak:ArtWorks on Etsy by clicking here.  I’m still filling up my shop and have not completed my Custom section where you will be able to work with me to create pendants and magnets using your child’s artwork or a personal photo… but, leave a comment with me and we can get to work right away!

In light of recent world events, especially the devastating earthquake in Haiti, I also want to engage in the relief efforts… not too easy as a stay-at-home mom.  So, I will be donating 25% of every sale of my necklaces and magnets to support organized relief efforts in Haiti.  I plan to donate through Power to Change – they are currently attempting to meet immediate physical needs for food, water, shelter and basic hygiene supplies.  Donations made up to February 12 will be matched by the Canadian government – so, double the impact!

I’m looking forward to hearing what you think!





meet our friends, Phil & Ted

28 11 2009

For the past three years I have been stopped at minimum once every time I visit the mall for someone to oggle my red stroller and say, “I have never seen a stroller like that before!”  And when C1 and C2 are riding tandem, for some reason it’s never apparent that there’s a passenger in the backseat.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “Oh!  You have TWO!”… well, you know — I could probably buy another stroller — not that I would because we purchased the Phil & Teds (then E3 model) so that we would never have to buy another stroller.  Just the other day, P was stopped by a woman who is evidently a gramma-to-be who wanted the 411 on our revolutionary Phil & Teds stroller to pass along to her expectant daughter.  So, here’s the “skinny” on this ultra-lean, very slender, inline buggy.

Phil & Teds strollers and other products are designed in New Zealand (manufactured in China) by what appears to be a very cool working group – at least, their website is fun to navigate!

In Canada, you can take a Phil & Teds for a test drive at most major baby stores, including Babies R Us.  There appear to be several models now available, which vary by some convenience factors.  (We bought the E3 three years ago, which looks like the “Classic” model they now sell.)  The base model retails for approximately $500 – so this one is kind of middle-of-the-road.  Add-ons, including storm covers, UV sunshades, saddle bags, cocoon, travel kit (to attach an infant carrier), and the doubles kit range from$35-70.

I have to admit, I can’t accurately comment on the new models, which obviously have been tweaked over the years…. but, I can tell you that, overall, our experience with the E3 over the past 3 years has been quite positive.  Weighing in at 24 lbs (I can’t be sure, but I think this is with the doubles kit attached), the P&T stroller is 24″ wide, rivaling an umbrella stroller for stealth – great for getting through tricky places in stores – especially the check-out at the grocery store.  It’s a three-wheeler with a front wheel that can adjust to be stationary, presumably for jogging or “off-roading,” or swivel for urban strolling.  I prefer the swivel – it is highly maneuverable.  The older model has two positions for the handle-bar; I believe the new models have an infinitely adjustable handle-bar.  Remember, I’ve said before that an adjustable handle-bar height is important when considering stroller selection.

The front seat has four positions, from fully upright to fully reclined (which is recommended position for your newborn).  It’s great – today I was out with C2; he had fallen asleep in the car and I was able to transfer him into the stroller lying down where he slept for an hour while I shopped!

Everyone always expresses concern for the guy riding in the back… “But, he doesn’t get to see!”  Well, C1 loves to ride back there because he thinks it’s the “cave.”  I mean, I honestly don’t know what C2 thinks about getting a back seat, but he can see plenty from back there and at his age, I doubt he’ll have any memory of what he saw or didn’t see from his vantage point… and he hasn’t complained so far.  Afterall, he doesn’t live in the stroller.

Is it a jogging stroller?  Err… well, kind of.  It was originally recommended for occasional jogging.  An authentic jogger has the large wheels.  I have jogged with my P&T a fair bit and have found it to be perfectly fine… although not so much with two kids on board — it becomes too heavy to comfortably jog with (24 lbs of stroller + 60 lbs of children).  Some people have told me that their legs are too long and they connect with the back of the storage space.  I personally haven’t experienced this — I’m around 5’4″.

I have had my P&T in for repairs three times – once for each wheel.  The front tire came away from the rim, which I think was because I neglected to inflate it properly.  Both rear axles needed to be replaced due to rust.  To be fair, my stroller has been through sleet, snow, ice… and the salt – in a Canadian winter, one should expect this type of wear and tear.  Fortunately, we have a great baby shop in our neighbourhood that specializes in stroller repairs – Macklems in Roncesvalles – and they’ve gotten me back out onto the streets in no time.  Anyhow – the tires are great for the trails and Canadian winter weather (and the storm covers keep it unbelievable toasty warm inside!).

There is a tipping factor.  Phil & Teds do address this in their manual about safely operating the stroller.  However, I believe this is a bit of a design flaw that could be remedied by attaching some anti-tippers (like you see on wheelchairs) to the rear.  You always have to remove the back child from the stroller first.  If you don’t, the stroller becomes back-heavy and will tip over.  I always adhere to this – but, it is a bit tricky from a logistics standpoint – C1 often wants to get down – NOW!  And taking the little guy out isn’t always convenient for whatever reason.  Of course, you can overcome this little issue with a bit of pre-planning.

I’m so thankful for the tip I received from a colleague of mine to check out the Phil & Teds.  When we had our first baby, we anticipated having a second (and were blessed!) and selected a stroller that we knew would accommodate a growing family.  Phil & Teds is really the only stroller brand that offers a solution for the toddler-newborn, toddler-toddler combinations in the tandem configuration (of course, you can always go for a bulky doubles stroller).  I’m pleased to say we have only had one stroller and hope that Phil and Ted are with us for a few more years to come.





the danger years

17 11 2009

Confession: I have been completely consumed playing Cafe World on Facebook – mostly trying to come up with the most efficient layout to serve my customers and recently with figuring out how to time the cooking and serving of dishes to maximize profits.  Check it out – the “Buzz Rating” (the thumbs up in the top right hand corner) maxes out at 105.0 when everything is flowing perfectly in your cafe!  I admit it — I am a little bit obsessed with Cafe Revolution.  I mean, in many ways, it’s much like managing my household.  Keep high traffic areas free of clutter, make sure there’s enough money in the bank account for groceries (and upgrades!), keep the hungry mouths fed throughout the day, create an inviting and homey atmosphere for friends & guests – add a bit of personal flare – and there you have it!  A home away from home, so to speak!  (And, if you’re not convinced, start playing the game and you’ll understand!  Hey – we all need an outlet.)

In light of my recent online gaming addiction, some of my domestic duties have fallen by the wayside — just a little bit.  But, I DID do ALL of the laundry this weekend, including the linens.  Made amazing carrot muffins for C1’s pre-school class.  And, did a fair bit of reorganization – I had to re-locate a number of items out of a certain pre-schooler’s reach – childproofing is an ongoing task.  Never assume you are completely safe.  Always be on your guard for the new thing your little explorer will Houdini his way into – especially those curious boys!

So, what I have been meaning to share for awhile are simply a few of my favourite childproofing items – I’ve tested and tried many, many different items with varying degrees of success.  You will ultimately need to do the same as you are figuring out what degree of lock-down you need your home to be in through these early years.  I am not a safety expert.  There are many exhaustive lists and materials for you to read on baby- and toddler-proofing (I am a big fan of the Ann Douglas The Mother of All… books – very comprehensive Canadian information).  These are just a few products that are functioning well in our home right now.

Right now, these door stoppers are by far my favourite.  Patrull, from IKEA retails for 4.99 for a pack of 2.  Kidco (available at Babies R Us) are 7.99/pair.  I have three doors leading into my kitchen and I have two boys with an affinity for doors.  If it weren’t for the stoppers I would have pinched fingers and doors slamming every 2 minutes!

These are the Safety 1st door knob covers, 4.99 for a pack of 4.  Note that these ones have the open finger holes that only a bigger hand can manipulate – and have proven challenging for many of our friends!  Other door knob covers with the grey buttons on the sides were ineffective.  I have to reinforce the seams with duct tape, because C1 can pop the covers open with minimal effort.  They even fit over our front door knob – otherwise, he’d be perpetually wandering around our neighbourhood.

Of course, outlet covers are a must. Safety 1st has a 24-pack for approximately 2.99.  I like these “press n’ pull” ones.

The multi-purpose appliance latch (4.99) by Safety 1st (along with other adhesive cupboard latches) have been most effective at keeping the boys out of the fridge – until now, C1 has figured out how to unlatch and now is learning that he must ask permission to open the fridge.  I have had to replace them every so often, but well worth it.

I don’t have a personal recommendation for a good gate – we haven’t had to use one (in a condo for awhile and now we have a locked door to the basement).  But, if possible, the best type is one that bolts to the banister and/or wall.  I wouldn’t cheap-out on a safety gate.  $70 is the ballpark.

Tub stickers – the Safety 1st package contains 10 and is 7.99 at Babies R Us.  I think you need about 15 to adequately cover the tub.  If you install them according the the instructions, they adhere perfectly.

What hasn’t worked – and again, this is just for us – toilet locks (didn’t suction well enough), adhesive corner protectors (not sticky enough), drawer/cupboard latches (the kind that screw inside the drawer – too finicky).  There are some great-looking safety latches for closet doors and windows, but I haven’t found one that seems to work on ours.

The majority of childproofing in our home has simply involved the removal and storage of contra-ban items, which is why, when you come to our home, it looks like we’ve just moved in – it’s pretty sparse.  With boys on the loose in the house, I’ve found it’s pretty much futile to keep anything beautiful or decorative.  No plants, nothing on the mantle, no lamps, and probably no Christmas tree again this year *sigh*.  Home electronics are up high (although they could be climbed to by a determined child).  I have just removed everything from the under the sink in the bathroom… until now, the bathroom has been locked, but since C1 is toilet trained, he spends a lot of time going in there… and tends to linger… *groan*.  It’s just for a “season” of our lives, right?

Naturally, we do a LOT of teaching, re-directing, reinforcing, re-directing, reminding,  But, it’s a lengthy process and until the age of about 4, it’s difficult to rationalize the concepts of danger and safety with a child.  And, as you have probably already guessed at this stage, it’s much easier to teach your child to do something good than to UN-TEACH him to do something that’s not particularly good or safe.  Let’s face it.  Patience is a virtue.

I’m curious to know what others like, dislike, and have used with some degree of success.  There is tons to discuss on this topic which I haven’t even touched on. It could be a good forum for sharing.

We are not by far out of the danger years… just trying to keep them happy, healthy – and alive!





front and centre

5 11 2009

IMG_2420Three things have been front & centre on my mind over the past week – and I just want to air them from least distressing to most distressing.  As always, I welcome all comments and even a drawn out discussion!

H1N1 hype vs. hope

Media makes me crazy!  So unreliable, so untrustworthy.  The primary objective of the media seems to be to mobilize social chaos.  Is that how we want to live our lives?  In some elevated state of irrational fear based on speculation and hype?  Not I.  With no reasonable evidence in the media – or on the mommy blogs – of an expert or professional opinion on the efficacy and safety of the H1N1 vaccine, I was thankful for two insights that surfaced last week – one from my cousin’s wife who is a paediatric emerg doc at the U of A hospital in Edmonton, who encouraged us to vaccinate our children (whose boys sadly caught the virus just before they could get the vaccine).  And, two – through a Facebook thread where I realized that the only thing that mattered is that we relinquish control (once again) over our children placing the whole thing in God’s hands, who gifted them to us in the first place.  By succumbing to the fear mongering and becoming paralyzed by that fear, no matter which decision we made for our families, we were essentially saying that we did not believe that our God is Able.  He may not spare us from suffering, but he promises a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11)… it just may be a different future than our human imaginations can render.

motherhood

I just want to take a moment to encourage my mom friends… actually, I want to sincerely congratulate all of you!  You all look fabulous when we meet up, you are all perky and positive, you are still clever and witty, you are interesting and talented – and I know that you are all on significantly reduced sleep; you have babies who cry a lot; you have toddlers who are defying your “authority” (and I use that term loosely) at every step; you have pre-schoolers who are exerting their independence and testing the limits; they are teething; they are ill; they are bonking their heads; they are thwarting your best laid plans.  But, motherhood looks so good on you — your children make you glow with pride and gush with adoration.  Glowing and gushing trumps stress and anxiety.

On another note, I have pretty much decided that I will write a parenting book for moms with boys, because I’m convinced that most of them were written by mothers of little girls.  More about that later.  🙂

marriage

This is huge.  It’s material for 50 or more blogs.  But, this has been the most distressing thing on my mind for the past several days.  It has recently come to my attention that the marriages of many of my friends and acquaintances are already fractured or in trouble.  I am not aware of the circumstances in most cases… I have no intention of judging, it’s not my place.  But, I am so sad.  I know that there have been unspeakable hurts.  Actually, I don’t want to get into it at all… at least not today – just to say that it’s been very distracting and has been the subject of a lot of my prayers this week.  I hope you will join me in asking God to protect our families and to position Himself as the central figure in our marriage relationships – and in all of our relationships for that matter.





craigslist versus freecycle

19 10 2009

craigslist vs.

freecycle_logo

Craigslist originated in 1995 in San Francisco – initiated by Craig Newmark, craigslist started out as an email list of local events in the SF area.  Today, craigslist has expanded to 700 areas in 70 countries.  Users can post, largely for free, classified ads ranging from jobs to housing, goods to services, romance to local activities – even personal advice!  For parents, craigslist can be a literal goldmine of baby and kids gear – well-used, in good condition, used only once or twice – or the real find: still in the box!  Received doubles at a baby shower!  My best craiglist find – a backpack carrier for $30, barely used, the day after our carrier broke in half (*yikes*don’t ask – no injuries!).

The Freecycle Network, born in 2003 thanks to Deron Beal, is a non-profit organization and a movement of people interested in keeping good stuff (not always working or perfect stuff) out of landfills – up to 55 tons of goods a day!  Freecycle exists to establish a “worldwide gift economy”… and many folks are thinking – “awesome!  free stuff!”  But, freecycling’s a two-way street – freecyclers are expected not only to take, take, take — but, also to benevolently contribute to the community.  You can google Freecycle groups in your area and to find out more about how Freecycle works, click here.  Wanna check out some extreme freecycling?  Junk Raiders is a Discovery Channel Show featuring two freecyclers and a crew on a mission to transform a fully functional live/work space in Toronto on a budget of $5000 – and everything and anything that can be re-used, re-shaped, re-fitted, or re-built.  It’s so cool!  Our best freecycled gift – a 4-drawer filing cabinet.

What I love about Freecycle is the transparency and genuine sense of community.  Freecyclers are not shy about letting you know that what they are offering is used, slightly damaged, or missing parts. A face-to-face encounter with a fellow freecycler is warm and personable – it’s like a mutual pat on the back because you just did something good for planet Earth.

And, it’s not to say that craigslist doesn’t hold an important place in our communities – though a step up from a neighbourhood garage sale – sometimes I feel that craigslist users perhaps exaggerate or over-estimate the worth of the item they are posting… I would be wary and do a bit of homework.  Also, I have experienced craigslist buyers often trying to make a low-ball offer.  Personally, I just find that it lacks the warmth and friendliness of a freecycle “gift”.

References:

craigslist factsheet, http://www.craigslist.org

How the Freecycle Network Works, How Stuff Works, http://money.howstuffworks.com





“stroller-itis”: parenting and posture go hand in hand

14 10 2009

IMG_0335This is an article I wrote as an assignment for one of my graduate classes in June, 2007 at UBC.  It emphasizes the importance of carefully considering your posture and protecting your joints when performing baby care activities.  But, I think it’s timeless advice, even if you’re past the baby stage – because let’s face it, we’re just not getting any younger!

You’ve been caught up in the wonderful bliss of becoming a new parent, bonding with your baby, and proudly walking along the sidewalk displaying your shiny new stroller … you are eager to show the neighbours that you can be an active and energetic new mom or dad, even on four hours of sleep!  However, one day you notice that your wrists ache when you lift your baby from the crib and your shoulders feel tightly knotted when you hover over your baby’s change table.  What happened to your youthful mobility?

Within a few months of my son’s arrival, this nagging discomfort started cropping up in my wrists, shoulders, and lower back.  I realized that the new activities I was performing as a new mom: nursing, changing diapers, lifting and carrying a car seat, and pushing the stroller with one hand (while holding a cup of coffee in the other hand!), were compromising my posture.  So, I coined the term “stroller-itis” to describe this cluster of baby-care aches and pains.

As a new mom or dad you want to get out of the house, stay fit, and feel energized.  However, pain resulting from baby care activities can hamper your ability to stay active, not to mention experiencing all the joys of parenthood.  In a recent North American study, researchers discovered a relatively high incidence of lower back, neck, and shoulder pain in parents with children under the age of four years associated with performing child-care tasks1.

Poor posture can be a major contributor to soreness in the shoulders, neck, and lower back.  The next time you pass by a mirror, observe your posture.  Do your shoulders seem to roll ahead of your earlobes?  Does your chin tend to protrude forward?  Are you slouching?

Incorporating a few basic strategies into your routine baby care activities and gear can help you develop better posture habits, limit aches and strains, and enjoy time spent with your little one.

Stroller Selection

Your baby’s stroller is your ticket to freedom from your home.  Find a stroller that is right for you and your lifestyle and practice good posture using these tips:

  • Select a stroller with a handle that is elbow-height or height-adjustable.  3-wheeled strollers tend to be more maneuverable, especially in winter conditions.
  • Relax your shoulders with your shoulder blades pressed down toward the middle of your lower back; make sure that the handle height of your stroller allows you to do this comfortably.  Keep your chin tucked and your abs firm.
  • Gently grasp the handlebar with your thumbs resting on top and your fingers and wrists relaxed.

Car Seat Handling

Inevitably, you will find it awkward to lift your infant “bucket” carrier in and out of the car without bending and twisting your lower back.  Not to mention the strain on your neck and shoulders as you tote the carrier around with you.  To avoid injuries related to lifting, ensure that you:

  • place one foot inside the door to alleviate strain on your lower back when taking the carrier in and out of your vehicle.
  • carry the “bucket” carrier by grasping the handle with two hands from the side, holding it close to your body.  Do not plan to tote the carrier for long distances – because believe me, it is only getting heavier!
  • bend at the knees and grasp the carrier at the head and foot when lifting the carrier from a low surface.  Keeping the carrier close to your body, lift, avoiding bending at the waist.

Change Table Set-Up

You will likely visit your baby’s change table on numerous occasions throughout the day.  A changing surface that is too high or too low can contribute to shoulder and neck pain, therefore:

  • ensure the changing surface is at least elbow height, or slightly higher if dad is six feet plus.
  • alternate your baby’s position on the change table to prevent excess strain on one side of the body.
  • use the flat surface of your hand when picking baby up to reduce strain on your small finger joints.

Feeding Time

Feedings are special interactive times with your baby.  Manage your posture by:

  • sitting in a comfortable chair with your back supported when nursing or giving a bottle.  Use a breastfeeding pillow to support your baby; relax your shoulders and practice tucking in your chin.
  • sitting at baby’s eye level to reduce strain on your back, neck, and shoulders when your baby is ready to eat in a high chair.

If you experience persistent discomfort after trying these strategies, or if you notice any redness or swelling, consult with your family physician to discuss options for treatment.

Creating healthy habits now will ensure good posture and pain-free parenting in the future so that you can be as active as your growing children!

1Sanders, M. J., & Morse, T. (2005). The ergonomics of caring for children: An exploratory study. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 59, 285–295.