Breast Feeding and Back Pain
New mothers often experience upper back and neck pain looking after their babies, the following are some helpful ideas and observations that might be of assistance to you or someone you know well.
As any kindergarten teacher can tell you if you spend much time with people much shorter than yourself it is easy to get poor posture and back pain from repeatedly bending down to help small children and listen to their little voices.
The comfort and safety of your baby is very important if he or she is to thrive, sometimes this happens unnecessarily at the expense of their mother’s comfort. Women are often taken by surprise when they inexplicably get pain in their upper back, shoulder, neck and even headaches when their children are still breastfeeding. This is often related in no small part to the posture they adopt when they breastfeed their baby.
Most back pain is posturally related, keeping your chin tucked in, shoulders back and spine straight is important in avoiding back pain whatever you do. How often have you seen a young mum bent forward from her waist, leaning to one side and craning her neck diagonally forward while she is breastfeeding her baby? A better question might be when was the last time you saw a breastfeeding mother NOT in poor posture?
If you raise the height of your baby on your lap when you breastfeed you can sit back and straight with a cushion supporting the natural curve in your lower back. This upright sitting position can be achieved using a foam bolster under your baby (you can buy these at baby shops) and can negate the need to tip sideways toward your baby. Set yourself up with your baby fully supported without posturally stressing yourself. A slightly uncomfortable posture at the beginning of breastfeeding will become much more uncomfortable by the end of a feeding session.
Young mums usually love watching their blissful infant happily sucking away by craning their head diagonally forward and looking down which causes neck and shoulder pain. If you cannot resist doing this you can try using a mirror or even a camera and monitor to watch your baby’s face as he or she is feeding.
I have heard lots of mums comment over the years about how their baby seems to psychically react when the mother is unhappy or uncomfortable you will be more relaxed around your infant if you are comfortable so it is a win /win situation if you breastfeed with postural awareness.
There are some very practical Self Massage techniques for nursing mums in the Self Massage book for any upper body muscular tension and safe upper back exercises to strengthen your posture and to stretch a tight neck and shoulders.
It is just as easy getting into poor posture bottle feeding babies too for similar reasons so please be aware of your posture if you do this.