This article is looks at the background that pre-disposes new parents toward
developing ergonomics related conditions, including tendonitis, DeQuervain's,
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and back pain.
As humans, we are lucky that our children are born so small and easy to
handle. Unlike most animals, they are not born able to walk. Their light
weight and small movement excursion makes the initial care tasks fairly easy.
It also give you a chance to gradually strengthen so that as they become
larger, you become stronger. Even so, holding 6-9 pounds for an extended
period – sometimes several hours – can be a challenge.
Other issues surround the care and feeding of young humans. There are the
added safety concerns about how to support the head and neck. Depending on the
size of the infant and the size of your hands, this can create positional
problems. How do you support that tiny head without putting excessive strain
on your index finger, or wrist, or elbow?
New moms have other issues that pre-dispose them toward repetitive strain
injury. There is always increased fluid retention. This fluid puts added
pressure on the tunnel areas. Initially, there are incisions or IV sites that
need to heal, and other pressures on the immune system. If you are breast
feeding,this is another entirely new thing for your body to deal with.
Then, often for both parents, there is sleep deprivation. Especially at first
babies have a need for frequent attention. If your baby cries a lot, remember
that this is a need, not a desire. If you have concerns that your baby cries
too much, check with your pediatrician.
Sleep deprivation decreases your body’s tolerance for strain, both physical
and emotional. Take this into account as you deal with each other and with
life’s constant niggling problems. Be kind to each other and to yourself.
If you are a single parent, see if you can find a good friend who can babysit
for an hour while you go out and get some fresh air. This is especially
important if you have a baby that cries a lot.
Many parents find that babies will fall asleep better if they are moving –
from rocking, to pacing, to baby-buggy, to car. Any of these will often
work. Slow movement sensation routes through the brain stem and induces calm
and relaxation. Blessed is the parent whose baby can sleep through the night
in the first 3 months.
As new parents, you will experience valleys of low energy and some very real
highs, as you enjoy your developing relationship – with the baby, and with
All of these things involve your body and it's relationship to your world. All
of these things affect your ergonomics.
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