New moms should baby their hands
Updated: 2006-05-29 14:44

New moms can always use a helping hand, but experts say they may need help for their hands, too.

Proper baby-handling and baby-care techniques can help prevent hand, wrist, and arm problems that are common to new mothers, experts say.

"Get yourself into good habits right away. Moms do the same activities repetitively, such as burping, rocking and lifting their babies. Take breaks and maintain good posture. Even a small change like switching positions can make a big difference," Stacey Doyon, president-elect of the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT), said in a prepared statement.

The ASHT offers the following injury and pain prevention tips for new mothers:

Burp your baby over your shoulder.
Use nursing support. "When nursing the baby, try to use devices such as Boppies that help support baby and mommy," Doyon said. "Be sure to sit in a reclined position so that the baby's weight can be held by your body and larger joints versus shoulders, arms and strained hands. If you are nursing and need to use a pump, consider using the express electronic pumps that are easier on hands and fingers than manual pumps."
Keep the crib mattress height as high as safely possible, based on the baby's development. Move all mobiles and toys out of the way, lower the crib rail, and lift the baby with two hands.

When holding and rocking the baby, listen to gentle music rather than fast-paced music. Keep your wrists straight and in neutral position. Hold the baby's head closer to the neck versus higher up on the head. Walk slowly, rock gently and switch your arms and position as needed to avoid getting stiff or sore. If you're sitting down, use a lap pillow or Boppie for support.

When carrying car seats and/or baby carriers, make sure the handle is lengthwise with the carrier so that your hand and forearm are in neutral -- the thumb-forward position -- instead of the palm of your hand facing forward.

"Many moms strain their hands carrying car seats and heavy bags stuffed with baby supplies. Use common sense. Don't try to carry more than you can handle," Doyon said.