Bringing home a new baby has its challenges with plenty of new skills that you slowly learn
when caring for your new baby. During this time, it is normal for your beautiful new baby to be the sole focus of attention and often there is little thought about the effects these new tasks are having on your own body.
Breastfeeding your baby is one such task that can be tricky in itself and often mums don’t think about their own body positioning outside of what is comfortable for the baby to have the best feed. And as all new mums know, this is a very repetitive task that is required of you several times a day and feeding sessions can take some time!
Breastfeeding Position – Why does it matter?
Breast or bottle feeding your baby is a wonderful moment to connect and bond with your child.
Most times, sitting is the preferred position to breastfeed where mum can maintain eye contact with the baby during feeding. And as mentioned above, feeding can take quite some time and is required multiple times throughout the day.
This can place a significant amount of load on the mid back as you hold your baby to your body and look down at them, placing the muscles in your back on stretch. This load can cause fatigue of the muscles in the middle of your back, which can cause them to become tight or spasmed and subsequently cause pain. This is especially true when the same muscles have to cope with the workload of feeding if you often adopt the same position.
Tips and Tricks to Help:
- Change Position – Where possible, change your feeding position throughout the day. If
comfortable, you can try feeding while walking or standing (baby slings can be helpful
here to take the load off your arms), or lying on your side so you can still maintain eye
contact with your baby. It is important to also try and feed evenly from both sides.
- Pillows – To reduce the load on the muscles in your back and shoulder, you can use a
pillow across your lap to place your baby on that will bring them to you. Often, we end up
leaning or slouching forward to bring ourselves to our baby which places a lot of demand
on our muscles!
- Express – If possible, having some assistance from a loved one who can bottle feed
expressed milk will allow for a much earned break. It will also allow you to feed your
baby in potentially different positions to take some of the strain of your back.
- Chairs – Selecting a supportive chair to sit in while feeding can make a big difference.
Sitting on a comfortable couch that allows you to ‘sink in’ can cause you to be slouching
more than you would otherwise. A comfortable but firm chair can provide better back
What can I do to help relieve the pain?
Once you have developed pain in your back, you may need a little bit of assistance to help
reduce the muscular tightness that can occur from muscular fatigue. In addition to the tips
above, there are several things that can help relieve aches and pains once they have started.
These can include:
- Heat packs and hot water bottles
- Gentle exercise such as walking
- Try to sleep when the baby sleeps (when possible!)
The following stretches can help for tight and sore muscles as well as promoting spinal mobility.
These exercises are best practiced ‘little and often’ where you spend a minute or two performing
them throughout your day where you can, such as in the morning, lunchtime and at the end of
the day. You can also perform them when needed!
Chin Tuck Stretch
Targeted towards a gentle stretch of the muscles from the back of your neck down between your shoulder blades.
Relax your head to look down towards your toes. Place your hand on the back of your head and gently pull your head down till you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
Begin on all fours. Gently relax your back to allow your stomach to drop down towards the floor as you breathe out. As you inhale, push your mid back up towards the ceiling in an arch. Pause, then exhale and allow your stomach to slowly come back down to the floor.
Repeat for 30 seconds.
Place a hand or bath towel, tightly rolled into a log, onto the floor. Lie with the towel at the level of the bottom of your ribs, facing the ceiling. Allow yourself to completely relax as your back is gently arched over the towel. If it is too stiff, you can unroll part of the towel until it is more comfortable.
Breath in slowly as you relax. Hold for 30 seconds.
Repeat this with the towel at the level of your shoulder blades, then once more at the level of your arm pits.
I think I need help!
If you have any concerns or questions, or you feel like the pain is not settling or improving please do not hesitate to contact our team for a discussion or a consultation today.
The Strategist. (2020). Nursing Pillow [Image]. https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-nursing-pillows.html