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Mommies Don't Get Workers' Compensation Part 3

Being a mommy is one of the toughest jobs in the world, and while it has
numerous intangible perks let’s face it; the benefits package sucks. No
medical, no paid vacation, and no workers’ compensation if you get
injured on the job.

So we’ve been talking the past few days about how to take better care of
yourself. It starts during
of course, but we’ve also looked at ways to make your
movements more
(that is, healthier!) while you take care of your
little one. But there’s more to it than that.

Making sure your bio-mechanics – the way your body does something – is
not enough. You need to stay on top of your body’s physical health if
it’s going to perform effectively when called upon. This means
strengthening, and stretching, and eating right.

Strengthening – back to the abdominal muscle called the transversus. All
that work you did during your pregnancy will really pay off now as you
call on it to help out. If you didn’t do any work during pregnancy, read
Julie Tupler's Lose
your Mummy Tummy
to learn how to strengthen that deep abdominal
muscle. Keeping that and your pelvic floor strong are going to be key in
getting you through the next several years.

And again, remember that strengthening that deep abdominal muscle isn’t
done with crunches; traditional crunch movements are not helpful, and
indeed should be avoided by most new moms since they can increase your
diastasis, which is the split in your superficial abdominal muscle that
most women get during pregnancy and/or childbirth. Julie’s book is the
best I’ve found for explaining this issue.

Upper body strength will grow with your baby (hopefully), but going back
to basic strengthening exercises in Julie’s book will keep those muscles
reminded that they need to work. You need to stay on top of those biceps
(see previous blog for why), but more importantly you want to keep your
upper back strong and working correctly to combat the mommy slouch.

And stretching. Yep, gotta do it. I mean it. Oftentimes someone who
feels like their back is “out” is actually experiencing extreme muscle
tightness. Now, I’m not saying that if your back is out you should start
stretching away. But stretching your hamstrings and hiney muscles, as
well as your waist muscles, will help keep those areas from getting
kinked up. And stretching your chest – your pec muscles – will help
fight against the closed chest and give your upper back muscles a
fighting chance. Back to Julie’s book for proper demonstrations.

Now, if you do all this and your back still goes out, don’t panic.
Conventional wisdom used to be to lie in bed until the back problem goes
away. Most medical professionals agree now that this can actually
exacerbate the problem, so don’t ask hubby to stay home for two days to
watch the baby while you lie in bed and pray the pain gets better. Get
in and see someone.

If you’ve never had back problems and don’t have a doctor or physical
therapist who knows you and your spine, think about calling your OB for
a recommendation. Some states require a prescription to see a physical
therapist, and others do not; if yours does your OB may give you one.
Chances are, she’ll at least have a doctor to suggest for this sort of
thing. Finding a doctor or PT from someone you trust is always better
than randomly picking someone in your health plan.

I’m a big believer in physical therapy; I’ve worked in a physical
therapy clinic for several years. I think a mommy with back strain would
do well to see a trusted physical therapist for her back; the PT can say
whether or not it’s something she thinks she can help with. Chances are,
she can, and while you’re there she’ll review your biomechanics and see
what got you into this jam in the first place. If it’s a more serious
back problem, she’ll be able to recommend a specialist for you to see.

I’ve also had great success with acupuncture, massage therapy, and
chiropracty. My hesitation in recommending these modalities is this:
first, the ability of these professionals can vary wildly, and second,
if you’re experiencing an as-yet undiagnosed problem, I’d seek a medical
diagnosis first before turning to alternative medicine to help you. If
you’ve got a slipped disk, for example, massage can make it worse. It’s
best to know what’s going on before treating it.

And finally, nutrition. In the early days with your first child,
nutrition’s not too difficult; you’ve got friends and neighbors stopping
by with nutritious meals and a solicitous husband bringing healthy
snacks (bought before delivery) to your side while nursing. Now, though,
you’ve got a mobile baby you’re chasing after all day, you’re trying to
get back to work at least part-time, you’re volunteering again at
church, your mom’s birthday is coming up . . . and you just run out of
time. You eat whatever takes less than 60 seconds in the microwave to
heat up, and you look on your baby’s balanced meal of strained carrots,
avocado, and mango with envy. You can’t remember the last time you had a
fresh vegetable, or a fruit that didn’t come on the bottom of a yogurt
cup or, more likely, on top of a drive-through sundae. Because let’s be
honest; food’s about quick jolts of sugar to get you through the day.

The more you turn to sugar to carry you from one nap to the next, the
more run-down you’re going to get. And the less healthy you eat, the
more run-down your body will get, making it more injury-prone. Try
cooking in bunches; make two casseroles instead of one and freeze one of
them for next week. Make 20 burritos at once and freeze them for
lunches. Buy jarred fruit and eat it instead of M&Ms. Any baby steps you
can take will help your body out.

As for that pre-natal vitamin – you still need it. We were so good about
taking it while pregnant, taking the best care we could of our babies.
Now the vitamin’s for you. If you eat one half of one serving of a
vegetable each day, I guarantee your baby is going to literally suck the
nutrients out of you. Baby’s needs come first while breastfeeding; your
body gets the leftovers. So please please please continue with that
vitamin; it’ll save your teeth from falling out (lack of calcium) and
help prevent muscle spasms in your back (potassium). And if you don’t
want to take the vitamin for your sake, take it for your future kids.
Breastfeeding will take your nutrient (especially the all-important
folic acid!) levels down to zero if you don’t eat right and stay on the

Last but not least on the nutrition front, you gotta keep up with the
water intake. Drink like you’re still pregnant. It’s nourishment for
your cells, and will help keep your milk supply up.

Look, I know taking care of your body is not a priority right now. But
when my girlfriend Abby’s back went out, it affected her whole
household; she spent a week not being able to hold her son while her
husband used vacation days to watch the children. So taking care of
yourself now means you can take care of your children later. Prevention
is the best path; good body habits, stretching and strengthening the
right muscles will all help keep you healthy. But if something goes
wrong, don’t ignore it. Deal with it now, before it becomes a more time-
and money- consuming issue.

‘Cause your kids need you healthy.

And last time with the didsclaimer:

I’m not a medical professional. I did not go to medical school. I’m just
a chick on the internet who had a baby and happens to be in the fitness
field and have a penchant for obsessively researching everything she
does. So for heaven’s sake, don’t take my word for anything. Talk to
your doctor and if anything she says contradicts what I say, whom do you
listen to? Your doctor. That’s right.


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