How Breastfeeding Moms Can Reduce Neck and Back Pain
The birth of a child is one of the most exciting times in one’s life. The gentle cooing and loving smile of your baby are unforgettable memories. As exciting as this is, the first year postpartum can come with unique physical challenges for moms. Some of these new challenges include sleep deprivation, frustration around understanding your baby’s needs and wants, and dealing with new aches and pains. Have you recently caught yourself searching “how breastfeeding moms can reduce neck and back pain?” I might have the answer for you!
What are some pains that new moms may experience?
There may be many times when you are busy caring for your new baby that you don’t get as much sleep as you used to. Following your birth, you may feel lingering pain or discomfort from a C-section, surgeries, vaginal stitches, and more. With all of these new changes, women can sometimes feel overwhelmed with all the new discomfort and pain they may be experiencing.
One pain that a new mom may experience is pain from breastfeeding. While nursing can cause different kinds of pain, such as pain associated with latching problems or thrush, another type of pain includes aches related to incorrect positioning while breastfeeding.
Why are breastfeeding moms at risk for pain?
Breastfeeding mothers are predisposed to musculoskeletal pain for a variety of reasons. Intermittent periods of rest, physical pain from the birth process or C-section, and marathon periods being hunched over when feeding are just a few. Add to this a flooding of hormones that keep joints lax or hypermobile, and you have the perfect storm for irritating the sensitive structures of the neck and shoulder.
Picture how pregnancy changes a woman’s posture: abdominal and pelvic floor muscles tend to get overstretched and weak, while the anterior shoulder muscles and hip flexors tend to become short and tight.
As a result, a postpartum woman may tend to sit, walk, or nurse in a slightly hunched position. Add to this sleeplessness, and the body never has a chance to recover, ultimately leading to neck and shoulder pain and dysfunction.
What is the importance of proper breastfeeding positioning?
There are several different ways women can breastfeed their baby to support their overall health and reduce the aches and pains they may be experiencing. The importance of using a proper breastfeeding position includes relieving pain in some regions of the body, such as the shoulders, neck, and back, and supporting latching during the process.
What are the best breastfeeding positions for back pain?
It is essential to understand that finding the correct position for you and your baby can take practice. Some of the best positions for breastfeeding your child include laying back, cross-cradling, or side-lying.
We will explore each of these different positions below. Here’s how breastfeeding moms can reduce neck and back pain by using correct postures while nursing:
Laying Back Position:
- Start by lying back in a reclined position on your bed or chair. You can use pillows to support your back, neck, and arms.
- Place your baby stomach-down on your stomach so that your belly and your baby’s belly are touching. Keep their head up at the same level as your breasts.
- Allow your baby to find its way to your nipple and latch. This can take some practice, and you may have to help them.
- Once latched, you can hold and support them or snuggle with them.
This is an excellent position for women new to breastfeeding that allows for more comfort throughout their bodies while nursing and provides for snuggling and bonding time with their new baby.
Another excellent option is the cross-cradle position. In this position, you will do the following:
- Start by holding your baby close and be sure he or she is facing you. Using a pillow on your lap may help support your baby.
- Gently support your baby’s neck, back, and shoulders. This will allow them to tilt their head back easier and quicker.
- Do not hold or cover the back of your baby’s head. Allow enough space for your baby to tilt their head back for successful attachment.
- Once latched, you can use the palm of your other hand to support your baby’s back.
Finally, the side-lying position is an excellent potion for women who have undergone cesarean delivery. This position shifts weight from the pelvic region, making it more comfortable for women who may still be healing from a cesarean delivery. Here’s how to do it:
- Place your baby on their back in the middle of your bed.
- Lie down next to your baby, with your stomach lined up near the baby’s head. You may also want to consider using a pillow as back support or between your legs if it helps make you more comfortable or if you are experiencing any pain.
- Ensure your baby’s nose is level with your nipple and your arm is above their head.
- Lay your baby onto their side and pull their hips or knees close to your hips. Try your best to position your baby so their ear, shoulder, and hip are in one line, which helps with milk flow.
Most babies will be able to latch on their own, but if there is a little bit of an issue in this position, or if the position is new for you and baby, your little one might need a bit of help latching. As with any new breastfeeding position, it may take some practice to perfect it, but you will feel much more comfortable after doing so.
Are there any other tips for how breastfeeding moms can reduce neck and back pain?
Yes! There are a few more tips that can help you have good posture while breastfeeding your baby. You will be surprised just how minor tweaks in posture and positioning can help your overall health and wellness (and even help baby with latching and milk flow!).
First, sit in a firm upright chair instead of a soft couch. If seated on a sofa, use a small pillow behind your back to promote an upright posture.
Second, do not curl over your baby when breastfeeding. Instead, bring your baby to your breast, propping him up with pillows.
Third, activate your shoulder blade muscles. Here is how:
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you were trying to squeeze a pencil between them.
- Hold for 5 secs and relax. Repeat 10x and perform 3-4 /day.
The fourth tip is to try and get some sleep. While that is often much easier said than done for new mothers, try your best to rest when the baby is sleeping. This will give your body a chance to repair and heal.
Move Empower Concierge Physical Therapy is here to help new mothers with aches and pains they may be experiencing. We understand that having a new baby often comes with different types of physical discomfort that may be new for mothers.
Are you tired of your sore neck or lower back disrupting your valuable sleep?
Are you curious if physical therapy could help relieve your pain and make nursing more pleasurable?
Are you frustrated by not being as active as you would like to be?
Please take advantage of speaking with a specialist physical therapist with our in-person or virtual Discovery Session. It’s a FREE 20 min consultation so we can learn more about your problem and determine if physical therapy is the best solution to get you back to the activities you love to do.
Call 512-659-5615 or click here to schedule your FREE Discovery Session: https://moveempowerpt.com/free-physical-therapy-discovery-session/. We look forward to speaking with you!