Living with arthritis and looking after a baby


Hi I'm 37 and found out I had arthritis at age 17. I struggle on a daily basis with a 14 week baby and 9 year old. I especially find it hard doing night feeds as I am in so much pain in bed. Does anyone have any tips or medications I could ask from doctor or chemist to help with the pain but not make me drowsy.


  • Shell_H
    Shell_H Member Posts: 548

    Hi @Sharlene1982 - welcome to the online community!

    You've had arthritis for 20 years now, but you're finding it especially difficult at the moment - mostly because you're having to get up in the night to feed a baby as well as dealing with a 9 year old child. Gettin up at night is especially hard with the pain.

    I completely understand - my arthritis is not as bad as yours, but looking after a baby even at the peak of fitness is hard, let alone having to deal with pain at the same time! I admit, my first thought on advice is to ask if your partner would be able to take on the night time feeds? There is absolutely no reason why you should be the one getting up when it causes you so much pain to do so (unless they too have arthritis or a similar condition which also causes pain, or if you don't have a partner). I apologise if this is something uncomfortable to mention, but with my partner we took turns at night feeding, which worked, but if I had been in huge pain to get up at night I'm sure my partner would have done most of them. Even if breastfeeding - either your partner could bring you the baby and deal with any changes which were needed, or you could express in the bed when you needed to, and your partner could get up and feed the baby when the baby needed it with pre-expressed milk. I suggest this as the pain is always worst in the middle of the night when you're made to get up - it's bad first thing in the morning as you haven't been moving as much while asleep, but to be woken up in the middle of the night your mind is tired and can't cope with pain as well as normal, on top of the normal extra pain after having been asleep. It is not unreasonable at all for your partner to support you in this, nor for you to ask it of them.

    Failing this, I believe both paracetamol and ibuprofen are safe to take eben when breastfeeding and very hard to overdose on, so you should be safe taking them when you get up in the middle of the night. They do, unfortunately, take some time to start working, so they won't provide immediate support. I'd also suggest taking them and / or any other painkillers you are prescribed about an hour before you go to bed, to make sure you get the best sleep you possibly can before you have to get up again, as pain can also make your sleep worse quality and you absolutely need the best possible sleep you can get. I'd also look into a stretching routine you can do in bed, and practice doing that before you get up - even if the baby is crying. I know how hard it is to delay going to them, but waiting an extra two minutes wont hurt them and you having the chance to stretch while still in bed will make it much easier to get up and may help alleviate some of the pain.

    You haven't mentioned which kind of arthritis you have, but I'm hoping your doctors are aware of it, and you may also have a specialist. I'd also suggest going to your GP and / or specialist and explaining that at the moment your pain is causing more problems, and that you need some extra help. They will know the possible painkillers which are correct for you to take and shouldn't cause drowsiness which you could try. You could also ask your pharmacist if there is anything over the counter you could take which would be safe. Co-codamol is safe over the counter, but I know it does cause drowsiness in some people, so asking an expert may well be a god idea.

    I'd also ask for referral to a pain clinic from your GP, and possibly also a physio (although that will need more time from you to go to the sessions). The pain clinic can help with what is right to take and have much more expertise in this area than a GP, and the physio can not only give you personalised exercises or stretches which you can do at home, they also offer massages or other treatments which can help you as well.

    There is more information about managing your pain and other symptoms at these pages - do take a look:

    I'd also suggest joining in some of the other conversations here - there are others in the same situation as you, as well as people who have got experience in how to deal with the pain and manage arthritis. They're all very friendly, and I highly recommend the community's expertise.

    Nice to meet you!


  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,487

    Hi @Sharlene1982

    Lovely to meet you. Congratulations on the birth of your new baby!

    I was wondering would your GP prescribe you something longer acting pain-wise? My anti-inflammatory is a 24 hour tablet and I also have pain patches (might not be ok if you are breast feeding) both of which limit the likelihood of breakthrough pain at night.

    Do come along in and join us all we are a very friendly community

    Take care

    Toni x

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,742

    I don’t have any specific advice, I just wanted to say I think you’re awesome. Having arthritis is hard. Looking after a new baby is hard. Being in pain while doing so is heroic. I do hope the advice from better informed forum members is helpful.

    I don’t know your domestic circumstances obviously, but a bit more sharing at the tasks you find hardest due to pain seems worth exploring. Some of us arthritis warriors are awful at asking for help, which is probably worse when “new mum” hormones are raging, but sometimes you need to step back and view the situation objectively to find the optimum solution, regardless of how you would prefer things to pan out in an ideal world. Be honest with your partner about how this is affecting you on a day to day basis, (sometimes partners don’t realise how tough this can get, we’re so good at just battling on)and see if you can find a way through this together

  • Sharon_K
    Sharon_K Member Posts: 460

    Hi @Sharlene1982

    I was just looking on our Instagram page and found this

    As regards having little ones, I brought up my daughter with hubby and my arthritis has did flare badly. I found the key things were, sleep when your children sleep. I just had to take my painkillers at night. I breast fed for the first 6 months I had my daughters bed attached to my bed so I could literally just lean over and grab her for night feeds. Hubby carried most of the weight with house work and cooking and friends were always grabbed to give a hand. Get as much help as you can and try to enjoy it as much as possible. I couldn't cope with a pram so I had a baby sling and as soon as she could walk we encouraged it or she went in the back pack. After her birth I did flare really badly and would recommend getting an appointment with your rheumatologist asap to get some extra help from them too. Congratulations with your new baby take care

    Best Wishes