Raise your hand Mamma, especially a new mom, if you are holding your baby in arms, maybe breastfeeding and scrolling through your smartphone. If you do, have you experienced any pain in the wrist or a twitch in the thumb?
Are you feeling any numbness, tingling pain in thumb, wrist or arm? Consult a doctor before ignoring it.
Like any other new mom, I used to spend a lot of time holding my Penguin. We had sailed fairly through numerous episodes of marathon feeds. Feed-pee-poop-feed cycles were our day. In between all these daily sagas, two weeks after my baby was born I noticed a pain in my left wrist while breastfeeding. It was not severe neither for too long, only a few seconds. And I did the mistake of ignoring those few painful seconds. It took me a few days to realize that something was wrong with my wrist. Every time I would pick the baby up, or position to breastfeed or adjust his head in breastfeeding position for a good latch, it hurt. I would feel a sharp pain starting from the base of the thumb to arms. I was diagnosed with, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome of a new mother. A.K.A the Mommy Thumb.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can sometimes appear during pregnancy or postpartum. It is a condition brought on by increased pressure on the median nerve at the wrist. In effect, it is a pinched nerve at the wrist. Symptoms may include numbness, tingling, and pain in the arm, hand, and fingers. There is a space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel where the median nerve and nine tendons pass from the forearm into the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when pressure builds up from swelling in this tunnel and puts pressure on the nerve. When the pressure from the swelling becomes great enough to disturb the way the nerve works, numbness, tingling, and pain may be felt in the hand and fingers. (Source)
When I got aware of the reason behind my painful condition, initially I was worried. But the proper treatment, exercise, and conscious wrist position bailed me out.
I met an orthopedic who suggested medication and physiotherapy. Hereby I am sharing a few tips and tricks which helped me out.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects. While lifting the baby, try to minimize the use of the thumb.
- Wear thumb splints. I used to wear them all the time except sleeping or unavoidable instances.
- I used to take ice massage in the painful area. Avoid taking warm compress, it enhances to pain. Learned from the mistake.
- Try a different breastfeeding position or use feeding pillows if needed. The aim is to reduce pressure on the thumb.
- Get help. Moms often tend to multitask while they do suffer from pain similar to this. Ask for help or hire help till you get better.
- Shake it out.
Shaking up hands are good warm-ups as well as gives quick relief.
- Fist it
Another warm-up is to make a fist and release it.
Extend both the arms in front and make a fist.
Hold it for 15 – 30 seconds and release it. Repeat 5 – 10 times.
- Wrist rotation
This is a basic one. Extend both arms in your front and make fists.
Now you need to rotate both wrists clockwise and anti-clockwise without straining the nerves few rounds.
- Stretch Armstrong
Extend one arm in front of you with your palm facing down.
Point your hand at the floor by bending your wrists.
Avoid turning your arm.
Apply pressure gently with your other hand until you feel a moderate stretch.
Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Then switch hand and repeat.
- Thumb touch
Touch the tip of each finger to tip of thumb making an O- shape.
Repeat a few rounds.
Few mothers might get a similar pain later when the baby has grown heavier and bigger. Medically it’s known as De Quervain’s syndrome, A.K.A “The Mommy Thumb”.
Though this syndrome is called the Mommy Thumb, it might occur to anyone who uses smartphones frequently.
Were you aware of the “Mummy Thumb?” Do share your story in the comment below.
Disclaimer: I am not a physiotherapist or doctor. Here, I am sharing my experience and in no matter, it can be taken as a piece of medical advice.