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Wrist Pain In New Mums


As a new mum picking up and holding your baby quickly becomes routine and can lead to wrist pain. This new activity places a load through the tendons supporting the wrist and thumb that they are not used to. This can lead to de Quervains tendinopathy.

De Quervains affects two tendons in the thumb; abductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis. Any sudden increase in repetitive movement and load through the wrist and the thumb can lead to de Quervains Tendinopathy.

Activities that can increase load through the wrist:

Image: Tendons affected in de Quervains

Image source: Lex Medicus Pathologies
Image source: mayoclinic.org

Symptoms of de Quervains:

Image: Finklesteins test

But why are new mums more susceptible than new dads?

Most of the blame can be put on hormones. Tendons are full of Oestrogen receptors therefore with natural hormone fluctuation with IVF, pregnancy, miscarriages and breast feeding; tendons are vulnerable to injury. Tendons are injured with a sudden change in use, and to care for a baby you have to suddenly use your hands all day, every day, for months!

How to Prevent Wrist Pain in New Mums?

Being a new mum it would be impossible to not lift or feed your baby multiple times a day. So you need to ensure that you are doing so with an optimal posture.

During pregnancy it is also helpful to strengthen your wrist muscles by performing weights exercises – remember new babies with nappies and clothes will weigh >4kg, so your weights should be this heavy!

Feeding Position To Avoid Wrist Pain:

  • The baby should lie at your nipple level not lifted up to the correct level.
  • Use a pillow to support your baby to make sure your hand and wrist are not working.
1-feeding position new baby
2-feeding position new baby
  • When using a bottle ensure the wrist position remains comfortable.
3-feeding position new baby
4-feeding position new baby

Carrying Position To Avoid Wrist Pain

  • Carrying a baby in the following positions over and over again puts unnecessary pressure on your muscles and can cause wrist pain:
1-holding baby best position
2-holding baby best position
3-holding baby best position
  • Using your forearm to support your baby when carrying rather than using your wrist.

Picking Up Baby To Avoid Wrist Pain

  • Don’t let your wrists drop.
  • Keep your wrists cocked up when picking up your baby.
  • Be aware of the wrist position with daily activities. Changing your hand position can make a world of difference to your wrist pain
1. picking up baby bets position
2. picking up baby bets position

Avoid these positions

  • Wrist compression doing up bra
  • Loading in thumb down position

And think about your wrist position with all repeated daily activities:

How Physio can help?

Physio can diagnose the exact cause of your wrist pain and determine how to relieve it.

We also provide massage of the muscles that move the wrist, apply strapping support and give you exercises to strengthen weak muscles.

Click on the links below to book online for a physiotherapy assessment and treatment or give us a call on 0438 648 884.

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