Postpartum Hand and Wrist Pain

Discomfort is expected during pregnancy, but many women are surprised to discover that not all the pregnancy pain disappears after giving birth. What’s more, in some cases, entirely new aches and pains emerge for moms once the baby comes along.

If you find that cradling your new baby causes more pain than joy, you’re not alone. Hand and wrist pain is common during and after pregnancy, with an estimated 25-50% of new moms experiencing some degree of discomfort.

Why does this happen?

There are a few causes for the discomfort in your upper extremities, but simply put, the pain is a result of changing hormones, inflammation due to overuse, and/or fluid retention:

Hormones | If you’re reading this, you’ve made it through pregnancy and are well aware of the havoc changing hormones can wreak on your body. These hormones, namely relaxin, help your joints loosen during pregnancy in preparation for delivery. Excess amounts of relaxin can last in your system for up to five months after childbirth, leading to instability and weakness in your hand joints.

Inflammation | Inflammation in the tendons of your thumb and wrist is commonly referred to as Mommy Thumb, or in technical terms, de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Mommy Thumb results from repetitively lifting and holding your baby. While neither of these tasks are avoidable, you’ll want to make sure you’re using proper form to prevent more damage. 

Fluid Retention | Pregnancy can also cause fluid retention, which doesn’t always disappear immediately after the baby is born. When the body holds on to excess fluid, it puts pressure on the nerves in the hands. This compression can ultimately lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, causing tingling, weakness, and pain in your hands and fingers.

What can I do get rid of my hand and wrist pain?

You obviously can’t stop lifting and carrying your new baby or change your body’s hormones, so what can you do to help ease the pain? Let’s look at a few options for minimizing damage and eliminating the pain:

1 | Switch up your position when holding your little one. Adding variety will help relieve some of the pressure on your hands and wrists.

2 | Try baby wearing – but make sure you find a carrier that fits well and provides proper back support. We don’t want you to trade one injury for another.

3 | Use pillows to take some of the weight off your hands and wrist when you’re feeding and snuggling your baby.

Remember, fatigue is normal, but pain isn’t – and it shouldn’t be ignored. If the discomfort won’t let up and you’re looking for long-term relief, reach out and book an appointment with Brittney Achtymichuk. Brittney has a special interest in hand & wrist therapy and has worked with many new moms over the years to help alleviate their postpartum pain.

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