You’ve mastered birth and now have a beautiful baby to cuddle and stare at. Now comes the challenge of breastfeeding.
While this is a magical bond between you and your bundle of joy, it can be hard work. If you are anything like I was, it took some time for both of us to get the hang of it. Some moms and babies get it right away within the hospital, while others struggle for months. I think it is safe to say that all moms experience some level of pain when they first start, and some have lasting pain for months. Then there are also moms who pump exclusively, and have their own challenges. As we all try to learn our baby’s specific needs, our bodies are also trying to cope with the changes of the supply demand and healing from birth.
During my learning curve my poor posture caused me a great deal of back and neck pain. I was using my body in a different way than it was used to. My muscles were sore, my body was healing, and I was holding an extra 8 pounds in my arms constantly. As a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor, this pain just was not acceptable, so I found some tricks to help me avoid those pains so I could breastfeed for as long as I wanted without it.
Here are my top suggestions to help other moms avoid nursing neck pain.
- How to Breastfeed with an Overactive Letdown
- 5 Simple Ways to Get Your Breastfed Baby to Sleep Through the Night
- How to Double Your Breast Milk Supply in 2 Days
5 Easy Hacks to Relieve Neck Pain From Breastfeeding
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1 Use Pillows for Support
First, we want to make sure we are bringing baby to breast and not breast to baby to allow for good posture through our back and avoid hunching over. As we hold baby up to our breast, we also want to support our arms so they don’t get tired.
Avoiding a hunched over position, especially during the duration of nursing, will limit back pain. When you nurse several times a day, for about an hour or so, the repetitive stress of a non-supportive posture brings on pain and discomfort.
Use pillows or nursing support pillows to help hold baby comfortably and support your arms. Any pillows will work, just make sure they are tall and firm enough for you.
2 Limit Looking Down
This will be hard in the first few weeks, or months, of learning to breastfeed, but as you feel like you are getting the hang of it, try to limit looking down at your precious baby.
Continuously looking down when nursing brings on more stress on the neck and strains your muscles, which causes pain and discomfort in those areas. Because you are frequently nursing in this posture often, you need to limit the repetitive stress on your neck as much as can.
3 Sit in a Supportive Chair or Seat
To avoid nursing neck pain, you have to support your body in a supportive chair with proper posture.
We all know that good posture is important and slouching is not, but when you are nursing as frequently as you are, correct posture makes a huge difference. Make sure your chair or seat is supportive and not too soft, with a good sturdy back and room to add those pillows for your arms. It will be tempting to get comfy on a soft couch or even your bed, but as you are learning to nurse try to avoid these soft seats.
After nursing, it is key to stretch.
New moms are commonly in a “rounded posture”, with rounded shoulders, flexed (looking down) neck, and a hunched back from holding baby and nursing. We want to open up and give our muscles some oxygen to relax.
A great easy way to stretch is to use a foam roller. Place the foam roller on the floor, gently sit on the end of the roller and lay down so your spine is laying along the roller, or the foam roller is vertical to your spine.
As you lay there, let your arms rest outstretched on the floor and relax your shoulders. Let your chest open and stretch, which will help combat the rounding posture and prevent back discomfort. Lay here for as long as you need, while taking some deep breaths, or as long as baby will let you.
You can also do this while baby is enjoying tummy time.
5 Get Adjusted
Chiropractic adjustments allow your body to move better. You naturally have added stress of having a new baby and now adding in repetitive stress of nursing posture, this can inhibit the proper function and mobility of your overused joints, your spine included. Getting those areas to move better will bring more circulation and nerve function to increase healing and decrease pain.
Perinatal chiropractors are perfect to help you through this time and understand your postpartum needs.
You can find a perinatal chiropractor in your area who is qualified in caring for your specific needs by checking out icpa4kids.com. I got adjusted weekly to help heal from birth, as well as, help with breastfeeding posture. It helped me tremendously.
Conclusion: These Tips Can Help Eliminate Neck Pain from Breastfeeding!
Following these 5 steps will greatly reduce any nursing neck pain or back pain. These steps made the most impact on my nursing journey and I am passionate to share it with all moms to help them as well.
I strongly believe that breastfeeding is a wonderful joy and special bond between you and your baby, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard and challenging. I had many tears while learning, felt very lonely nursing at night, and felt secluded when I needed to nurse in a separate room, all while battling painful clogged ducts, sore nipples, and neck and back pain.
Mama, you are doing an amazing job. Keep up the great work and best wishes for a successful nursing journey pain free!
Don’t settle for pain. Try these tips! If they help or you have any questions at all, let us know in the comments below.