So far in our online clinic for new parents, we've covered how to hold a baby, how to change a baby's nappy, and how to push a stroller without hurting your neck, wrists or back (or at least making the problem worse). This week we're covering another sneaky culprit of postpartum pain: The nappy bag.
I know, we should all chuck a few things from the nappy bag so the load isn't so heavy, but I know from experience that the first time you leave the extra set of clothes, the hand sanitiser, the nappy cream, and the water bottle at home is the first time you find yourself in the Macca's restroom with a nappy blow-out, filthy hands, and a screaming baby with a rash. So given that we do in fact need to carry a ton of stuff, best to learn how to carry a heavy nappy bag with as little pain as possible.
To get a better idea of how to carry a nappy bag without wrecking your musculoskeletal system, I spoke to Stephanie Leaf, a physical therapist specialising in postpartum issues and the director of New Leaf Physical Therapy, for her best advice on protecting your back and neck.
If you're carrying a standard shoulder bag, don't lean to one side with your torso and head cocked. Keep your arms and wrists soft.
Consider a backpack nappy bag instead of one that hangs over your shoulder. I had a Skip Hop backpack that was a back-and-neck lifesaver, especially for situations in which I was carrying the baby and the nappy bag at the same time. "Carrying a backpack will feel better for long periods than anything on one shoulder or across your body," says Leaf. If you must carry a shoulder bag, carry it close to your body and keep your shoulders even without bending your neck to one side. "If you're carrying on one shoulder, you can support the bag from underneath" with one hand, says Leaf. "The closer the bag is to your centre, the more support you can give from your core and the less stress there will be on all your other joints."
My personal solution? A stroller that was comfortable to push, and the nappy bag stowed underneath. But if you must carry a heavy nappy bag, at least try to make it an ergonomic one. It will make hunching over a changing table at Macca's a lot less painful.
This is the fourth instalment in the Postpartum Pain Clinic, a multi-part series on managing the aches and pains that come along with caring for newborns and infants.