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Avoiding New-Mom Injuries

Sleep deprivation and the learning curve of parenting can put rookie moms at risk for several common injuries. These steps can safeguard you from unnecessary pain  -- so you can be ache-free when taking care of your little one.

EYES

Potential problem Scratched cornea

Cause "Infants are curious about eyes and want to feel and touch them," says Robert Cykiert, M.D., associate professor of ophthalmology at the New York University School of Medicine in New York City, "so they grab suddenly for them as if they were a toy." A direct hit on the cornea will cause an abrasion. If baby's fingernails are involved, the scratch may be more severe.

Ounce of prevention Trim tiny nails 2 to 3 times per week (longer ones can do more damage).

FEET

Potential problem Plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the ligaments in the arch)

Cause Getting up and down while carrying baby and not wearing proper footwear can cause this condition, says Glendale, Arizona-based podiatrist Kathleen M. Stone.

Ounce of prevention At home, wear sneakers instead of slippers for better shock absorption, cushioning, and support. Tennis mules are a lace-free option for middle-of-the-night trips to the nursery. Just remember to buy up a half size  -- the common postpregnancy size increase.

NECK and SPINE

Potential problem Soreness and lower back pain

Cause Both can result from carrying an infant, says Jerome F. McAndrews, doctor of chiropractic and national spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association in Arlington, Virginia. Holding baby on your hip throws off your alignment  -- as your hip protrudes, your neck tilts to that side, compressing the disc. Other causes of neck and back pain: picking your baby up and carrying a heavy diaper bag on one shoulder.

Ounce of prevention Use a baby carrier or stroller when carrying your child for longer than 15 minutes, and choose a backpack diaper bag that distributes weight to both shoulders. Avoid lifting your baby at arm's length: Lower the crib railing, lift a car seat while kneeling inside the car, and squat when picking your baby up.

WRISTS

Potential problem Tendinitis

Cause Repetitive activities such as using manual breast pumps, pushing strollers, and burping babies can cause inflammation in the joint, says Marcy Clements, an orthopedic specialist at The Orthopaedic Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Ounce of prevention If you pump frequently, consider using an electric model. And try this strengthening move: Grasp a soda can; extend your arm with palm down, then turn and rotate your wrist 180 degrees.

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