For Your Body and Mind

Your health questions answered by top experts.

Q: While I was pregnant, I noticed a lot of stretch marks on my belly. Now that I’ve given birth, will they go away?

A: Stretch marks caused from pregnancy will often fade after giving birth. Vitamin E and cocoa butter also may be useful in minimizing stretch marks. Consult your obstetrician/gynecologist for more information.

Q : I’ve recently felt more fatigued than usual. Balancing work and family has become increasingly more difficult in the past months. What could be the cause and how could I boost my energy level?

A: Balancing work and family is difficult, especially when a new mother first goes back to work. In order to maintain energy, it’s important to set aside time to relax or exercise, both of which can boost energy levels. Support from family and friends, such as babysitting and cooking, can give new mothers the chance to take a break. A balanced diet is another key element to maintaining energy.

Q: I have always been involved in my son’s sports activities. But, recently my knees have been bothering me and I am finding it hard to participate. What can I do to ease the pain so that I can be more involved?

A: Participation in a child’s sports activities is rewarding for both a child and parent, and it’s disappointing when something restricts that. Consult a physician to determine how much activity is appropriate. A physician also can advise on knee supports, proper sneakers, stretches and icing techniques to decrease pain and increase flexibility. Remember that parents can be involved in a child’s activities in other ways that are not so physically demanding. Working on game strategies or photographing the games are some examples.

Q: I am 5’3 and 105 pounds. My daughter is 5 months old and already weighs 22 pounds. It is very hard for me to carry her around and I’ve been getting backaches. What can I do— I can’t imagine what it will be like when she gets bigger!

A: Carrying a baby on a regular basis can take a toll on a mother’s back. Some baby backpacks can evenly distribute the weight of the baby and cause less strain on the mother. Even for short trips across the lawn, use a stroller or backpack. Less traditional remedies, such as a visit to the chiropractor or yoga classes, also can be helpful by alleviating pain and improving flexibility and strength. A personal trainer can suggest many exercises to strengthen a weak back. Picking up a baby is a repetitive activity, and lifting with the knees instead of with the back can help mothers avoid back pain.