Back and neck pain can be caused by a number of factors when nursing a baby. As you recover from childbirth and pregnancy, hormonal and physical changes might cause pain, swelling and unease in your ligaments. In addition, your body takes time to readjust to the forward weight distribution of the baby in the womb after pregnancy. The most common cause, however, is improper posture and repetitive nursing positions used every day during feeding. This is what leads to pain in the shoulder blade region, back, and neck.
Posture and support and greatly reduce strain and pressure of your neck and back. Below are some ways and methods of how this can be done effectively:
Find a comfortable spot when breastfeeding and assume a proper posture. Do not lean down to breastfeed the baby (instead, bring them up to your chest). This helps to ease any existing stress on your neck and back and also promotes an ergonomic posture.
Pumping and Nursing Bras
Choose a nursing bra that fits you well. Professional fitting can ensure that you get the best size, design and shape for your needs. This type of bra offers additional support to the back and breasts when nursing. It has wider straps than the normal bra so as to limit stress on the back.
Heat Bag and Cervical Pillow
The use of heat bags across your shoulders and neck while nursing also helps to relax the over-stressed muscles. It also boosts the flow of milk. On the other hand, a cervical pillow will help to rest your neck muscles while you are asleep and maintain a proper spinal curve. Lie on your side or back in order to put less stress on your lower back and neck. You may place a pillow between your legs to make the side lying position more comfortable.
Supporting the Weight
Add some pillows to support your back when breastfeeding and use chairs with armrests to help support the baby’s weight. You ought to use the recommended nursing pillow. This elevates the baby higher up so you do not have to support all of their weight with your back, neck, and arms.
Footstool to Support your Feet
This is particularly important for shorter women who cannot touch the floor naturally when seated on a chair. Failing to touch the floor will make you lean forward and slouch when nursing. Taller mothers might also need the footstool as it is helpful for posture and the back. It eliminates stress on the arms, shoulders, legs, and back.
Stretching Exercises to Reduce Tension
Performing regular exercises on your back and neck muscles can also help to prevent upper back and neck tightness – this is what leads to headaches, back and neck pains. Thus, ensure that you stretch your muscles throughout the day, before and after nursing. Below are some simple exercises that you can perform at home:
Place your right arm behind your back and look towards your left and downwards. Hold that position for two minutes and then repeat with your left arm. Perform this exercise as many times as possible during the day.
The Doorway Stretch
Stand on a doorway and place your forearms, palms, and elbows flat on the wall on the sides of the doorway. Use your right foot to step forward and press your chest through the doorway. Take deep breaths into your lungs and chest. Exhale slowly so as to allow your shoulders and chest to relax.
Cat and Dog Stretch
Get on all fours. Your hands have to be under your shoulders with your knees hip-distance apart. Take a deep breath as you arch your back and look upwards. Exhale slowly as you look downwards and tuck your tailbone under. Repeat this exercise a few times on a daily basis.
The above tips will go a long way in relieving stress on your neck muscles and the lower spine. This will give you and your baby the much needed extra comfort. Nevertheless, if you are already suffering from back or neck pain, you should consider visiting a chiropractor. You can carry your baby along with you so you can show the chiropractor how you normally breastfeed. They will be able to identify how the problem arose and give you the ideal recommendations.
Contributed by Coraline Huard