Move Empower Concierge Physical Therapy Austin TX
Mom breastfeeding baby

How Breastfeeding Moms Can Reduce Neck and Back Pain

As a mother providing nourishment to her baby through breastfeeding, one might unexpectedly encounter bouts of neck pain, sometimes described as nursing neck, caused by the accumulated tension and strain in the neck muscles. This unfamiliar stress, set in motion by a lot of changes and things happening simultaneously in your body, could escalate to headaches and even numbness in extreme cases, momentarily diminishing some of the inherent joys of being a new mom. Addressing these issues requires the right approach, stretching exercises, embracing chiropractic care, and even resources as simple as a towel to support your neck, all towards supporting both the mother and baby’s health.

The birth of a child is one of the most exhilarating times in one’s life. The heartwarming coos and precious smiles of your baby create unforgettable memories. Despite the excitement, the first year postpartum generally presents unique physical challenges for moms, particularly in the chest and neck area due to constant breastfeeding. This strain, with consequences on your overall well-being and health, could cause ailments like neck pain and headaches. Demanding tasks like sleep deprivation, confusion surrounding the newborn’s needs, and contending with new aches and pains can represent unfamiliar territory for many new mothers. If the phrase “How can breastfeeding moms reduce neck and back pain?” has been part of your recent searches, I – as a mother who has wrestled with these questions – might have the answers you seek!

Mom breastfeeding baby


How Breastfeeding Moms Can Reduce Neck and Back Pain

It is not unusual for new moms, engrossed in their role of caring for the baby, to compromise on regular sleep. This lack of rest could result in neck pain due to amplified stress and tension. Post-birth changes ranging from lingering pain from C-sections or surgeries, vaginal stitches, strains on the spine, and even motion-related pains present significant challenges. This phase could indeed become overwhelming for people dealing with these multiple changes and discomforts.

Occasionally, breastfeeding could introduce diverse kinds of pain for new mothers. While latching problems or thrush can cause specific pain, incorrect positioning during breastfeeding could strain the neck muscles, inducing headaches. It is essential to recognize these symptoms early and seek treatment, which could involve basic exercises or targeted chiropractic care, to maintain balance in this crucial phase.


What are some pains that new moms may experience?

Breastfeeding mothers are predisposed to musculoskeletal pain for a plethora of reasons. Intermittent periods of rest, physical pain resulting from childbirth or C-sections, and extended periods spent hunched over while feeding can stress the body significantly. The surge of hormones that keep joints flexible or hypermobile intensifies these complications. This hormonal flood creates ripe conditions to irritate sensitive body structures, particularly the neck and shoulder.

Envision the alterations in a woman’s posture through pregnancy: abdominal and pelvic floor muscles generally become overstretched and weak, while anterior shoulder muscles and hip flexors tend to shorten and tighten. Incorporating exercises and stretches, which could involve simple props like a towel, can help overcome this tension and restore balance.


How Breastfeeding Moms Can Reduce Neck and Back Pain


Why are breastfeeding moms at risk for pain?

Consequently, a postpartum woman might tend to sit, walk, or nurse in a slightly hunched position. In conjunction with sleep deprivation, the body rarely recovers fully, culminating in neck and shoulder pain and dysfunction. Regular exercises, stretches, and some chiropractic care can counteract these issues by strengthening the spine and neck muscles, thereby reducing the experienced tension.

There exist numerous ways for women to breastfeed their baby optimally to support their overall health and alleviate the aches they might be facing. Utilizing a proper breastfeeding position can relieve pain in regions like the shoulders, neck, and back, and support effective latching.

It is essential to be patient and understand that discovering the correct position for you and your baby may need practice. Some of the recommended positions for breastfeeding include laying back, cross-cradling, or side-lying. Adopting these positions with skeletal alignment in focus reduces stress on the spine and neck muscles. In the upcoming content, we will delve into each of these unique positions with a special focus on ergonomics. Understanding how your body, specifically parts such as your knee, foot, and hands, interact with these breastfeeding positions can aid in reducing pain and preventing an injury. By using the correct postures for breastfeeding and incorporating exercises when possible, we aim to provide mothers some insights on how breastfeeding moms can alleviate nerve strain and reduce neck and back pain:


What are the best breastfeeding positions for back pain?

The laid-back position is an excellent method, particularly beneficial for women new to breastfeeding. It allows more comfort throughout their bodies while nursing, reducing inflammation and providing opportunities for snuggling and bonding with their new baby.


How Breastfeeding Moms Can Reduce Neck and Back Pain

The cross-cradle position, a type of posture in the domain of ergonomics, is another commendable option. When adopting this position, you will:

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.

Finally, the side-lying position, a topic we’ve elaborated on in our blog in the past, is an excellent choice, particularly for women who have undergone cesarean delivery. This posture shifts the weight away from the pelvic region, providing relief and increasing comfort for women still recuperating from a caesarian delivery.

How Breastfeeding Moms Can Reduce Neck and Back Pain


Cross-Cradle Position:

Remember, consulting a doctor and possibly a chiropractor, to make certain adjustments, if needed, and asking all relevant questions is critical to addressing any breastfeeding-related pain effectively. Be confident in seeking help and utilize available research materials. Your health and your baby’s well-being are paramount. Adopting these strategies along with your chiropractor’s advice can ensure the benefits of breastfeeding are enjoyed without compromising physical comfort and overall health. A nursing pillow in front of you can provide additional support, aiding in part by easing any possible anxiety over the process.

Here’s how to do it:

  • 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.

Most babies will be able to latch on their own, but if there is a little bit of an issue in these positions, or if the position is new for you and baby, your little one might need a bit of help latching. This patient approach is crucial, especially when introducing new breastfeeding positions. As with any new breastfeeding position, it may take some practice to perfect it, but with proper care, patience and your hands positioned correctly, you will feel much more comfortable after doing so. Studies have shown that persistence often yields positive results.

Side-Lying Position:

  • 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.

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. For instance, be mindful of the placement of your feet and how you use your hands while breastfeeding. This practice alone can help manage inflammation and boost your wellness. In addition, simple stretches can alleviate the soreness in your ligaments caused by standing on your feet for long periods. Remember to address your own health issues in this process.

Firstly, 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. This approach, often recommended by doctors and chiropractors, ensures that the weight distribution on your body, particularly your knee and foot, is optimal, thus preventing any possible injury.

Secondly, do not curl over your baby when breastfeeding. Instead, bring your baby to your breast, propping him up with pillows. This type of adjustment can minimize the effects of the wrong posture.

Thirdly, activate your shoulder blade muscles. This is a part of the process that often gets overlooked. Here is how:

The fourth piece of advice 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 sleep will give your body a chance to repair and heal, as well-maintained health is paramount.

As a patient of Move Empower Concierge Physical Therapy, you’re part of a professional team dedicated to providing relief to new mothers dealing 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. Here at Move Empower, our experts adopt a holistic approach, considering how nerves and muscle interaction affects the overall health of new mothers. We’ll work together to reduce inflammation and make suitable adjustments to reduce any pain you’re experiencing.

Are you tired of your sore neck or elbow tendons disrupting your valuable sleep?

Do you feel the anxiety creeping in because of the discomfort and direction your health seems to be heading?

Does your mind constantly wander to the thought of your lower back pain?

  • 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.

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. Before the appointment, it may be beneficial to read an article or two about the therapy process. This approach, backed by multiple studies, ensures that the patient’s needs are adequately addressed.

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