Postpartum Recovery Weeks 3-4

Entering weeks 3 to 4 postpartum I felt more comfortable with movement and desired it due to some of the aches and pains I was starting to experience from breastfeeding and repetitive carrying, bending, and lifting. During this time frame I started to experience my first bout of left arm, wrist and thumb pain. “Mommy’s Thumb and Wrist” are very common tendonitis issues to be experienced throughout parenthood due to the strain of supporting your newborn. In this blog I will be going over the exercises integrated into my week and how I delt with the tendonitis I was experiencing.

Week 3-4 Exercise Progression:

  • Step Matrix
  • Clamshell
  • Bent knee fall out and March
  • Quadruped – Rockback; Pelvic Tilts, Cat/Cow
  • Resisted Row
  • Shoulder matrix < 90 degrees

Management of thumb and wrist pain:

Mommy’s thumb and wrist is the inflammation of the tendons that lift the thumb up or out to the side and the nerves that run along the inside of your wrist. Managing this early is important for symptoms to not get worse. Symptoms you may experience with tendonitis are pain and burning along the top of your thumb and wrist, tightness in your forearm and hand. Symptoms you may experience with nerve tension along your arm are numbness and “falling asleep” feeling along the inside of your upper arm and forearm or hand. Nerve tension presents from muscle stiffness surrounding the nerve which can present after sustained postures, for example, slumped posture while breastfeeding or holding your newborn for an extended period.

Treatment Strategies:

  • Self Massage
    • Forearm- tennis ball or Lacrosse ball 2 min
    • Thumb massage – golf ball, focus on web space between thumb and index finger
    • Upper Trap – tennis ball or Lacrosse ball
  • Movement
    • Wrist and finger circles
  • Stretching
    • Wrist
    • Pec
    • Cat cow
  • Nerve glides
  • Bracing and Ice
    • Wrist and thumb brace while holding your child or breastfeeding
    • Ice Wrist and Thumb for 5-10 minutes
    • I found that the Lanisoh Therapy Breast Packs also made perfect wrist and thumb ice packs that I could wrap around my wrist
  • Ask your partner or friend for a massage
    • Pressure should be tolerable not painful, if you find a sharp point maintained sustained pressure for 30-60 seconds until it releases and then move to next point

I tried to spend 5-10 minutes during the day to perform these movements or when I was actively experiencing the pain. Pick 2-3 of the 5 things and it will help manage your pain. If your pain progressively worsens for greater than 2 weeks and you have tried these exercises, I recommend seeking out help through Physical Therapy. It is much easier to manage and resolve your pain early on.

I hope these tips were useful. If you are looking for more one on one guidance and support MOTI Physiotherapy has a Pelvic Floor team that has an expertise in pregnant and postpartum population. We offer in person and telehealth visits that are covered by insurance. Do not wait for your first postpartum checkup if you are starting to experience pain from the new demands of motherhood. Our Pelvic Floor Doctors of Physical Therapy can guide you through a personalized plan of care that will support you!

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