Here at MUTU we’re obsessed with helping mums back to full strength and body confidence after childbirth.
When it comes to postpartum back pain relief much of our focus is on helping you to improve core strength, alignment, mobility and pelvic floor health. But away from postpartum back pain exercises we regularly get asked about the role of diet, hydration and sleep in managing and recovering from lower back pain symptoms.
So much so we thought we’d put a quick post together to answer some of your most frequently asked questions:
- Can diet really affect my postpartum back pain?
- How does hydration affect postpartum back pain?
- Is that infant sleep schedule making my back pain worse?
- What’s stress got to do with postpartum back pain?
- What are some other complimentary care options for post-birth back pain?
- Want more MUTU advice for nutrition and recovery for back pain in postpartum?
What role does diet, hydration, and sleep play in relieving post-birth low back pain?
Diet, hydration, and rest are the essential pillars of recovery in motherhood — birth is no exception.
These three body fundamentals are particularly important when experiencing back pain after giving birth. They can start to address the underlying issues which may be manifesting as back pain.
Can my diet really affect my post-birth back pain?
Believe it or not, it can.
Eating a healthy diet can help to reduce inflammation and improve overall health, both of which can help to relieve back pain. A healthy diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Foods rich in protein, collagen, healthy fats, Vitamin C, and omega-3’s are great for postpartum recovery. You should also focus on adding high-fibre foods and probiotics into your diet to avoid constipation or difficulty pooing, which can make back pain worse.
Eating well doesn’t mean you have to go to fancy stores or buy postpartum-specific foods. Simple things like porridge with dried fruit (full of iron, B vitamins for mood and milk supply, fibre, and minerals), lean meats and fish with vegetables (lots of proteins, omega-3’s, healthy fats, vitamins), and low-sugar nut snacks are easy to find, prepare, and won’t break your back (or bank) to make.
How does hydration affect postpartum back pain?
When you are dehydrated, your muscles can become stiff and sore. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help to keep your muscles hydrated and reduce pain. It also helps to ensure you are emptying your bladder and avoiding constipation, which can cause or worsen back pain.
Is that infant sleep schedule making my post-birth back pain worse?
When you are sleep-deprived, your muscles can become tense and sore. It also can cause you added stress, or make handling stress and other mental health concerns seem much harder.
There’s no getting around it — having a newborn changes your sleeping patterns. We’ve adapted to the Western norm of sleeping mostly in one big chunk at night. We’re not born doing this and it usually takes several months or even half a year for infants to start sleeping longer stretches. There are good reasons for this, but it is a major shift.
Disrupted sleep, shortened sleep cycles, and the feelings of annoyance or hardship around these changes can see many new parents carrying added tension in their bodies. Women especially tend to carry muscle tension from stress in their upper backs and hips.
You might not be able to get long nighttime sleep stretches for a bit, try and take time through the day to rest or nap. The more space you can create by doing less, the easier it will be to snooze in those precious moments you can get.
What’s stress got to do, got to do with it?
You may be noticing a bit of a theme here — stress.
Okay, sorry, but no meal or special amount of water, or even a baby sleeping five-hour stretches on their own exactly at that magical six-week mark is going to take away all the stress of the postpartum rollercoaster.
However, taking time to consider areas of added stress in these three fundamental areas can definitely help. Where can you bring in your support team to help? Can someone bring you some food? Is another adult available to watch baby while you nap occasionally? Can you find ways of incorporating stretching and meditation while with baby? Can you limit the things you do have control over, like doom scrolling or toxic positivity, or feeling stuck inside?
What are some other complimentary care options for post-birth back pain?
- Strength training: Strength training can help to strengthen your core muscles and improve your posture, both of which help with back pain.
- Stretching: Gentle stretching can help to improve your flexibility and reduce back pain.
- Massage therapy: Massage therapy can help ease the tense or spasmodic back muscles causing you pain. It can also help with c-section scar tissue, which can often help with back pain.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is thought to relieve inflammation and treat overall pain. It can also speed up your body’s ability to recover.
- Yoga: Postpartum yoga can help to improve your flexibility, strength, and balance, all of which can help to reduce back and hip pain.
Want more MUTU advice for nutrition and recovery for back pain in postpartum?
The MUTU app and community focuses on a whole-person, whole-body, holistic approach to reducing back pain after birth. Whether you’re three days, three weeks, three months postpartum or your babies are having their own babies by now, MUTU can help you work through those mummy back aches.