Having worked as a physical therapist for 10 years, I know how new activities can tax the body. I know the importance of good body mechanics and keeping a spine in the best neutral position. I know that fatigue and not feeling well can create poor posture.
However, as a new mom, my PT mind shut down as I focused on getting my daughter, Charlise, off to the very best start in life – which meant mastering breastfeeding, sleeping in 1-2 hour stints, holding her for long periods of time until she calmed – and when I did get time to focus on my body it was about caring for my healing pelvic floor, preventing engorgement in my breasts, or getting a quick shower or meal in.
Into the second week of Charlie’s life, I was experiencing severe headaches, shoulder pain and weakness, jaw pain, light sensitivity, and full body diffuse joint pains. The headaches were getting so bad I had trouble concentrating and would nearly become nauseous from the pain. As a breastfeeding mom, I was afraid to take any medication besides ibuprofen. I was taking nearly the maximum medically recommended dose, and it wasn’t even touching my pain.
Oddly, it was my doctor who recommended (yes to this 10 yr PT) that I seek out the help of a physical therapist. DUH? Why I did not come across this idea, I am not sure, but I immediately called my coworkers at Alpine PT to get scheduled. By that afternoon, they had an opening come up and got me in.
As soon as Angela (aka Alpine’s spine ninja) started working on my upper neck (C1 and C2) I knew I was in the right place. She performed an extensive examination, then started with some manual joint mobilization of my upper neck followed by some muscle energy techniques and stretching. She then addressed poor scapular control of my left shoulder. She finished by reminding me of proper positioning and some very basic yet super effective home exercises. Needless to say, I went to Alpine PT with a high 8/10 headache, neck pain, and left shoulder issues. After just after an hour with Angela, I left with close to a 2/10 pain level and felt SO MUCH better!
I was so happy to return to my house where my daughter was meeting many of our good friends. I felt renewed and reset. Moreover, I could now be there for Charlise 100% now, and I could enjoy my visitors and this very special time in our lives.
I will be working on a handout for those new moms out there, a handout that will include exercises and recommendations to prevent this type of injury and also to remind them that even one PT visit can help dramatically! Someone told me I would learn more than I thought possible as a parent. This is only the beginning, I’m sure!
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