Feed the Baby and Nod YES in Celebration of National Physical Therapy Month

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As a new mommy, feeding my little H can sometimes be a pain in the neck; in the physical sense of course. Have you experienced pain with feeding? Whether you are breastfeeding or using a bottle (dads, grandparents, friends, sisters, brothers, and daycare providers might be helping with the bottle), the feeding process can bring about pain.

October is National Physical Therapy Month. In celebration of the month, I turned to Leigh A. Roberts, DPT, OCS, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, and a Polestar Certified Rehabilitation Pilates Practitioner right here in Columbia, MD for some tips on how to manage pain during feedings. Below is an excerpt of our conversation.

“New parents spend many hours nursing their little ones. Therefore, we also spend many hours looking down. When baby is newborn, it is important to be sure baby is latched correctly, whether on the breast or bottle; however, once baby becomes good at latching we continue this habit. Why do we continue to do this?

The answer is simple – our little ones make the cutest faces so we don’t want to miss any of their precious expressions. However, all of that looking down can cause neck pain and put stress on your upper back.

As a physical therapist and mom of three children, I can relate to you on a personal and professional level. If you are craning your head down every time you feed, you are setting yourself up for muscle soreness and pain.

  1. Hopefully, you have mastered good positioning for feeding your baby so you already are sitting in a good chair with pillows to support under your arms. Now you must think about your posture and neck position! You are going to learn to NOD your head instead of bending from your neck.
  2. Once you have baby latched, lean back against the chair to support for your upper back and neck. You should never lean forward toward baby to feed him / her, you should always pull baby to you.
  3. Next, tuck your chin in like you are making a double chin (it’s okay – baby won’t mind) and lengthen the back of your neck.
  4. Now, think of a bobblehead doll; this image is actually quite accurate anatomically. Our head sit on top of our spine and can nod up and down like a bobblehead. You can look down at your baby by nodding your head and then gaze down with your eyes.

Doesn’t that feel better already? Remember to also relax your shoulders in this position. Use the time you are feeding your baby as a chance to give your body and neck a break. Remember to support your back, nod your head, and gaze at that amazing child.”

For additional resources, be sure to watch Dr. Roberts’ video on neck pain and poor posture. To learn more about Dr. Roberts and her practice, L A R Physical Therapy, visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook. If you make an appointment, be sure to mention you learned about L A R Physical Therapy through Babies & Banana Bread.

Happy National Physical Therapy Month!

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Photos courtesy of Dr. Leigh A. Roberts (L A R Physical Therapy).

NEWSFLASH! Mean Girls and Nice Girls Unite as Mommies

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It starts young. We can all remember the group of girls that were mean. They would look you up and down, exclude you from the lunch table, and whisper behind your back. Sometimes they would even pretend to be your friend just to get your help on school work. I am not bitter or anything. It is funny, because we strive for more gender equality between men and women. But, ladies, shouldn’t we stick together and practice what we preach? How can women demand equality with men if we are not even playing on the same team?

Just think if we were more united as a gender, perhaps we could have already experienced seeing the first woman U.S. president shatter the glass ceiling into millions of pieces. Yet the Huffington Post‘s Juilette Frette explains women are quick to judge and compete with other women. Women are mean to other women. Many seem to think they have another woman’s whole story figured out just by her looks, her appearance, or her body type.

I should mention not all women are mean. But, sadly all too often women are mean to women. I have found motherhood seems to change all of this.

Outside of my amazing husband, I owe much of where I am today as a new mother to the women I have met and reconnected with along the way. Continue reading

There is No Single App for That?!

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These days there seems to be an app for everything. But, when it comes to parenting, there is no one, all-inclusive parenting app.

As soon as I found out we were expecting. I instantly inherited parenting books from family and friends. Immediately after skimming  the books, I realized  reading before the baby had even arrived was going to be information overload and create anxiety. I could have developed the best, most detailed plan, but I did not know my baby yet. What kind of personality does he have? Does he have colic or is he laid back? What if he is born with a concerning health condition?  I have continued to avoid reading books. Instead I prefer talking to real moms going through the same challenges and successes I am. I am so lucky to have built a support network with other local new moms through the new moms support group hosted by Healthy Families and the Howard County General Hospital.

Earlier this week, a new local mommy and I chatted about her bottle challenges. It was an awesome feeling to know she trusted me and wanted to use me as sounding board.  At the same time, I had some concerns about leaving my little guy in a few weeks to go back to work. She had some great advice for me. Later that same day I joined a Facebook discussion in reaction to the TODAY anchor, Savannah Guthrie, still putting mittens on her 7-week old little, adorable girl. It turned out Savannah was extremely fearful of clipping her baby’s nails and felt that was the only solution. I had offered some advice – use a nail file.  A few hours later TODAY mentioned me by name and referenced my advice in an online story.

OK, wait, what? Continue reading