As a new mom, you have a plethora of responsibilities you need to do. One of these is breastfeeding. Many women breastfeed because they believe it provides more nutrients for their baby than a formula. In addition to this, breastfeeding is thought to create a strong bond between a child and mother.
While breastfeeding has many benefits, it also has a few downsides, including causing back and neck pain. This pain can make it difficult for you to do feedings and other basic tasks. Below you’ll discover more behind why breastfeeding causes back and neck pain and a few tips you can keep in mind to help prevent it.
Why Does Breastfeeding Cause Back and Neck Pain?
Breastfeeding can cause back and neck pain for a few different reasons. One of the most common culprits behind it is because of improper posture. When breastfeeding, many new moms tend to bend forward more than they should and keep this position as their baby feeds. This can be very uncomfortable, but many moms try to avoid moving because their baby is feeding. Poor posture can put significant strain on your spine which can stress the vertebrae in your back and neck.
Besides posture, many moms sit in chairs that don’t provide lumbar support. Because of this, many will try to find a comfy position to feed in. While this position might feel fine at first, it can cause back and neck tension.
5 Ways to Stop Back and Neck Pain When Breastfeeding
Watch How Far You Bend
A common problem that causes back and neck pain when breastfeeding is when one bends their body too much. While you need to do so when breastfeeding, sometimes moms overdo it which can put significant strain on their back and neck muscles.
When breastfeeding you want to make sure to use correct posture. One of the best ways to do this is with the cradle position. To do this position, hold your baby across your lap so that they are lying on their side. Make sure to support them with your hand behind their back. Hold your baby close to your body so that they can feed. This will help you to monitor them but without bending your neck and back.
You could also try the side-lying position. By lying down on your side, you’ll be able to better support your back and neck while being in a comfortable pose. Once you lie on your side, bring your baby close to you so that you face each other. Hold your arm behind them to provide support as they feed. It might also be helpful to place a pillow behind your baby to support them.
Use a Wrap-Around Pillow
Another way to prevent back and neck pain is to wear a wrap-around pillow. As its name suggests, this pillow will wrap around you. This will provide extra support which can make long feeding more bearable.
To use a wrap-around pillow when breastfeeding you’ll first want to place it where you plan to hold your baby. Wrap it around your body and gently place your baby on it. While holding them, place them close to your body so they can feed. This will provide a soft place for them to rest and position them higher up so you can watch them without straining your neck and back.
Do Back and Neck Exercises
You can also do simple back and neck exercises to keep your muscles strong and flexible.
One exercise to consider is the pelvic tilt. This stretches your lower back, the portion of the spine that often takes the brunt of improper breastfeeding. To start, lie with your back on the ground and your knees bent. Keep your feet and arms flat on the ground. Then, use your arms and legs to gently lift your lower back up. Hold the position for a few seconds and then release. Continue this motion a few more times.
Another exercise to do is the hamstring stretch. This will also provide relief to your lower back. To begin, stand with proper posture and then lower your arms straight down toward your feet. Try to go as far as you can without bending your knees. When you feel a slight pull in your hamstring, stop stretching and hold the pose for a few seconds. Then, return to a standing position.
Wall Arm Stretches
This popular yoga pose will provide relief to tight and sore neck muscles. The first step is to find a wall. Place your palms flat against it and then move your body until your arms are straight. Slightly bend your body down toward the ground while keeping your arms straight. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then release. Take a deep breath and then repeat.
Utilize a Heating Pad
A heating pad can also be useful. While wearing it, the heat will soothe sore and tense muscles that could cause painful muscle spasms. Once you’re done breastfeeding, immediately put the pad on for a few minutes. This will prevent the muscles from contracting. You’ll also find that a heating pad will boost your blood circulation. This could increase breast milk which can give your baby additional nutrients.
Use Chiropractic Care
If you find that your back and neck pain is too much to handle, it might be beneficial to stop by a chiropractor. They’ll do adjustments that will ensure that your spine is aligned while reducing muscle tension. A chiropractor will also make sure that your joints are invigorated after the adjustments which can prevent them from being easily worn and stressed. These adjustments can also help you get rid of back pain after pregnancy.
Chiropractic care is safe to use if you’re breastfeeding. In fact, it could improve blood flow which can help your baby receive even more nutrients when they feed so they stay healthy.
If you want to stop back and neck pain during breastfeeding, definitely keep these tips in mind. Not only are they easy to do, but will provide quick relief and will make it easier for your baby to breastfeed.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Anchorage and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. He offers a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care, massage therapy, and physical therapy to Alaskan patients.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.