Living with Chronic Pain
Tips for Parenting an Infant While Living With Chronic Pain
Having a new baby is one of the most exciting times in a parent’s life. However, when one or both parents deal with chronic pain, having an infant can also present a unique set of challenges. Some helpful suggestions for parenting an infant while living with chronic pain include using adaptive parenting items, adjusting the home environment, using proper lifting techniques, and asking for help when needed.
Use adaptive parenting products
Babies require constant and conscientious care. Adaptive parenting products may make life easier for parents with chronic pain. Examples include the following:
- Cribs that open from the side, preventing the need to bend over and reach down into the crib
- Ergonomic infant carriers
- Velcro bibs, shoes, and other accessories (for parents with dexterity issues)
- Baby clothing with magnetic closures instead of buttons or zippers
- Breastfeeding slings or pillows (for mothers who have difficulty supporting the baby’s weight while breastfeeding)
- Swivel car seats, which allows the seat to be turned toward the car door while placing or removing the child from the seat (reducing the amount of leaning and twisting required)
Modifying items, such as adjusting a changing table to a comfortable height or adding keychain rings to zippers on baby clothing to make them easier to manipulate, can also help.
Adjust the home environment
Adjusting the home environment to best care for an infant can also help make parenting with chronic pain a bit easier. Keeping a caddy with diapers, wipes, and other supplies in several rooms prevents the need to repeatedly carry the baby from one room to another. Creating a comfortable place to rock the baby — with items such as burp cloths and pacifiers within easy reach — can also help.
Use proper lifting techniques
For parents with back pain or other chronic musculoskeletal pain, using proper lifting techniques when picking up a baby is important. Instead of bending at the waist, parents should squat and lift with their legs whenever possible.
Ask for help when needed
There is no shame in asking for help from family members and friends. Help with household chores or child care can reduce levels of pain, decrease stress, and increase energy levels. A family member or friend may be thrilled to spend a little time with the baby while the parent rests or goes to a medical appointment. Hiring someone to help with cleaning or other activities of daily living is also an option.Additional sources: Green Child Magazine, The Mobility Resource, Disability Dame, National Rehabilitation Information Center