You get the signal, you scoop up your babe, you're in position over the sink and cueing...but ugh, Baby is heavy! Is struggling with in-arms pottying a rite of passage with EC or is there a better way?
Listen for how to avoid back (and wrist!) pain while pottying an in-arms baby (plus posture tips for nursing and using the top hat potty!)
You will hear:
- posture solutions to lessen back pain and enable in-arms pottying
- back-friendly pottying holds for babies with and without head support
- the correct way to use a top hat potty (and nurse your babe!)
- whole-body posture hacks for the early days of parenting
- how to tell when you may need more help for your back or pelvic floor
Links and other resources mentioned today:
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
This is episode 172, Mama's Posture and Back Pain While Pottying, How Do We Resolve That? That's what we'll talk about, in today's show. You can check out the show notes at godiaperfree.com/172, where you will find a full written transcript and links to everything I mentioned in today's show.
Hey there, welcome to the Go Diaper Free podcast. I'm Andrea Olson, your host, author, and mom of five babies, all EC from birth, all out of diapers by walking.
If you have experienced back pain while pottying your baby, you definitely know that this is not something that makes you want to keep pottying your baby. You're like, "Ah, my back is killing me, but I really need to take my baby to the potty." And you're probably in the in arms phase, where you're holding your baby over the toilet, and for some reason, your back is not happy about it.
So today, we're going to talk about some solutions, some things you can do with your posture, that will help you to lessen the back pain that you're experiencing while pottying your baby. Are you guys ready to learn that? Because I think it's really important. For those of us, like me, who have always had a "bad back", this is super helpful. Once you get your posture in order, you're going to have a much better time pottying your baby. And it's actually going to let you continue to potty your baby, and not give up on EC just because of back pain. So if you have had back pain as well, today's show is for you for sure.
Now, the first thing I want to say is, when you're holding your baby in your arms, and if your baby is just really, really big, or you already had a bad back and you're feeling back pain, it's because you are not standing up straight. So there are a couple different fixes for this. The first thing I wanted to say is, move to doing in arms over your toilet. And, you know those kid stools that they have, that you can find the nice all natural bamboo ones, or you can find one that's Baby Bjorn, the one who makes the bigger potties. They have nice, no slip step stools for children. That's the kind of stool I want you to put in front of your big toilet, and then hold your baby over the toilet while you are sitting on the stool.
So depending on how tall you are and how long your legs are, this should put you at the exact right spot, so that you can hold your baby in classic or cradled EC position over the big toilet, and you won't have that strain on your back, especially if you have a super heavy baby who is not quite holding their head up yet. If you've got a baby who is sitting unassisted already, then what you can do is start moving from doing in arms over the sink or wherever, or the Top Hat potty, whatever you're using that's hurting your back, to putting them on the big toilet on a toilet seat reducer or using a Mini Potty. And you guys, if you've known me for long enough, you know that I have the Mini Potty on tinyundies.com. It is super short, so that a baby who's just newly sitting, like five or six months old, can actually touch the ground, and they are really comfortable on it because they can feel the ground under their feet. And that will save your back a whole bunch.
But please be warned, you probably have that breastfeeding hunch that a lot of new moms have. Now, I've had five babies myself. I've definitely had that going on. You also have the one hip always going while your right hand or left hand is always doing things. So, we usually come out of new motherhood with massive back issues. When you're pottying your baby, I want to make sure we avoid these. So, you can go from in arms over the sink or wherever, which is where I usually start my babies, to in arms over the toilet with a stool. Or, you can just mind your posture while you're over it.
And the thing I just mentioned was just to start using a mini potty, start using a toilet seat reducer on the big toilet. If your baby is holding up their head, you can hold them there. What we don't want to do though, is, if your baby is not sitting unassisted yet, you don't want to put pressure on their spine. So you want to make sure that they are sitting independently already, even if they kind of topple over, but you can tell that they have that strength. And if they don't have that, we don't really want to let their weight sit on the mini potty or the toilet seat reducer, without a massive amount of assistance from us. Okay? Hopefully that makes sense.
So the other thing, you'll notice that when you're nursing, you're looking over at your baby. So you've got your head down, even mine is still sore from years of doing this, and you've got your shoulders hunched over, and you're really making this little cocoon for your baby. What I want you to start doing instead is bring your baby to you. Instead of bringing your breast to your baby, you want to bring your baby to your breast. And I learned that from a yoga instructor, Mommy And Me Yoga, back in Berkeley a long time ago. And, every single woman in the room was hunched over nursing their babies, during yoga. And she was like, "No, no, no. Everybody, sit up straight."
So, you want to engage your core and pretend like there is a golden hook on top of your head. And there is a golden string going to the ceiling, and that will align your back over your pelvis, and your shoulders over your backbone, and your head on top of everything else, like they're a bunch of building blocks on top of each other. And then when you're sitting up like this, you bring your baby to your breast to feed, right? So that's how to have good posture while breastfeeding.
Well, we want to apply the same thing when we have a Top Hat potty in between our legs, and we're pottying our babies. We sometimes feel like we have to hunch over, in order to give our babies support on their back and spine. But the way we were designed, to hold our babies like this, is that when we are sitting upright and our chest is open and we have good posture, we have this wonderful place for the babies' heads and nestle in between our breasts. So this is exactly how we need to be, just being mindful of it, every single time you go to potty your baby, especially if you've had back pain, especially if your baby's getting heavy, especially if you're just exhausted. You want to not do damage to your postpartum body. You're already gone through enough.
So you want to, when you're holding them over the sink, the toilet or the Top Hat Potty, and they are leaning up against their back, as leaning against your chest, and your hands are underneath their thighs, you've got your body in a straight, upright position. They've got their body in a straight, upright position, and they're in a deep squat. Everybody's going to have a way better time and potty time is going to be way more sustainable. Does that make sense? So please, please, please, mind your own posture.
And the other thing is, have somebody be your accountability partner in this. So if you have a partner, husband, wife, whatever, and you are around each other, at least some of the day, to say, "Hey, hun, could you let me know if you see me slouching while I'm pottying our baby," and then they can definitely let you know. I also invite you to take a picture, have a picture taken of yourself when you're pottying your baby, and then look at your posture and see how you can improve it.
So again, I want to go over, and you can get pelvic floor therapy that will help you to engage your core, if you feel like nothing's there after having a baby, this is quite common, especially if you have diastasis recti. And I don't even know if I'm saying that right, but that's what I call it. It's basically where your abs are separated a little bit, and you can work with a physical therapist, a pelvic floor therapist specifically. They do internal and external work as well, and give you exercises. And I did that after my fifth baby. I wish I would've known about them way before then, because it really helped a lot of my back. My lower back pain was because my pelvic floor was not... You've got your diaphragm and your pelvic floor and they kind of make a balloon. And if part of that is not strong, then you're going to have a leak in that pressure. And that pressurized system is really necessary to hold your core in place, so that you can have good posture and no back pain.
So all of these things, starting from what I talked about in the beginning, which is you sitting on a stool and just taking care of yourself while you're not able to hold them fully, to, "Hey, let's actually look at what's causing this back pain in the first place, that EC and holding your baby is making worse." Does that make sense? So, if you go to a pelvic floor therapist, they're going to put you through probably 6 to 12 weeks of exercises and work, internal and external, to get you all ship shape. And it literally changed my life. I was able to lift weights and do squats and things like that, whereas before I wasn't. So, I definitely want you guys to look into that, if you're having back pain and a really bad mama's posture. When you're breastfeeding, bring your baby to you, don't bring your breast to your baby.
The last thing I want to mention to you about posture is your hands. I know this sounds really weird because your hands are not part of what holds you upright. But your hands, if you are holding your baby, and you've got your hand crooked, so your wrist is basically broken, the line is broken, and you're holding your baby, and you're nursing like that. With the amount of relaxation and hormones in your body at this time postpartum is still kind of cycling through and leaving your body, you are going to have some problems. You're still hyper flexible, right? You're going to have some problems, and you could actually get carpal tunnel symptoms, by holding your baby with this broken wrist, instead of being conscious of having it in a straight line.
So when we're holding our babies in EC position also, and in cradled position especially, make sure your wrists, make sure the line between your elbow and your fingertips is not broken by bending your wrist. Does that make sense too? Hopefully you can visualize that. Look it up if you need a visual. But basically, you want to have a straight line from your elbow to your fingers, anytime you're holding your baby. So that should help with any kind of wrist pain. So you're having pain while pottying your baby, you're not going to stick with it. And I really want you to stick with it. That's what I'm all about here at Go Diaper Free is I want to make sure that everything is as simple as possible. Though it might not be easy at times, we still want to make it simple, because this is a really simple process that we were all created to do.
And yeah, I think this is what a lot of you needed to hear. Let me just check my notes, make sure I didn't miss anything. Sometimes, it depends on which receptacle you're using, as to which will provide you with the least back pain and the best posture. And I really want you to work with your baby, and find out what's the best for you as well. Because again, if it's not sustainable for the mom, it's not going to be sustainable for the baby. This includes any caregivers you have and includes dad as well. You want to make sure that everybody who's doing this with your baby has good posture, because that also translates to your baby having good posture while they're leaning against you.
And that straight upright position is going to allow them and everything to flow downward. So it kind of makes sense. We're all in alignment. We're all in good posture. Babies are born with perfect posture. And when they sit for the first time, you're just like, "Whoa, look at where their head is." I studied Alexander Technique for a long time, and it really is amazing how just your head placement on the top of your neck affects your entire posture. So if you've been in bad posture because you're a new mom, again or for the first time, and it's because of nursing and cradling and shushing and holding this baby all the time, and you are leaning over and crouching around onto them, we want to change and pull your posture upright, bring your baby to you, and then adjust the way you're pottying by using a stool, changing up your receptacle, starting to set them on something when they have the ability to sit unassisted, and make modifications to make EC-ing sustainable, all right?
So that's all I had to share with you today. I will definitely be posting pictures on my Instagram and Facebook, every so often reminding you of the proper posture. For right now, while you're sitting here listening, let's practice. So we're going to engage the transverse abdominals by... You'll have to actually practice this and look it up and learn how to do it or work with a PT, but you're basically engaging the muscles that go across, not your abs, but across them, right? And in doing that, we're also doing a little kegel and pulling that up, like you're pulling a marble up. And at the same time, we are making sure that our shoulders are not forced backwards, but that they are falling gently straight down. And that our head and neck are not straight out, like we're on a stress response, but we've got it settled back on our spine a little bit.
And with all of this in alignment, we breathe and we learn how to breathe in proper alignment. And this is a whole process, you guys. I've spent years trying to get myself back in order after having all these babies. And definitely, you can do things, going from in arms to a mini potty to save your back. You can go from the sink to the toilet, with your butt on a stool, mom. And you can do all these things. But at its core, I encourage everybody, everybody who is hearing me right now, to go and see a pelvic floor therapist, if you have haven't, and just check it out and see what's going on, because you're going to find so much help if you're having back pain while pottying from that as well.
All right, you guys, thank you so much. It was great to see you today and to teach you all of these. Not see you, but to speak to you all today. And, I hope you have a wonderful time pottying. May it be sustainable and joyous, with no back. Awesome. Take care, you guys.
Again, you can check out the show notes at godiaperfree.com/172, and I hope you learned a lot today. Please go over to the show notes right now and let us know, do you have back pain while pottying? And if so, what are you going to do today to resolve it? I look forward to talking to you there.
Thanks so much for listening. This is the Go Diaper Free podcast at godiaperfree.com. We'll see you next time.
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 12 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)