Four months ago when my baby was born I was all smiles and full of gratitude, glad that the hard part was over and I was in for a picnic with my son. Little did I know that more pain was yet to come. Trying to meet the feeding demands of the young man left me with long hours of sitting and walking around the house while breastfeeding. I tried to look for all positions to breastfeed but none eased the pain. My lower back, neck, shoulders and wrists were literally killing me.


My gynaecologist was reluctant to issue painkillers and advised me to try conservative ways. That was when I visited my physiotherapist who managed my pain and gave me lots of education. I felt that this is very vital information that every mother should know about before the arrival of the bundle of joy.

1. Proper Posture

During breast feeding, pay attention at how you are holding your chest, shoulders and head. The shoulders commonly form a rounded shape towards your baby and your upper body curves downward to get breast to the mouth of the baby. Once your upper body is in that position, it is hard for the head to stay centered over the shoulders and usually ends up forward. This poor posture will cause you pain.

NB: Bring your baby to your breast and not your breast to your baby.

2. Make sure you are seated in an ergonomic way.

Back or arm strain can make a nursing session torturous, it is very important to ensure mom is comfortable, and can stay that way for the next 20-40 minutes. A chair with excellent back support and an armrest is a must. Avoid sitting up in bed to breastfeed unless you have a lumbar support.

3. Nursing Pillow

A U-shaped nursing pillow is ideal to help reduce strain on the neck during a feeding session.

4. Nursing Bra

Your breasts undergo various changes during the pregnancy and breastfeeding phases. Your heavier, larger breasts often cause back and neck pain.

Simple stretches to ease pain caused by breastfeeding.

  1. Pelvic tilt Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on floor. Flatten the small of your back against the floor, without pushing down with the legs. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
  2. Single knee to chest. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly pull your right knee toward your shoulder and hold five to 10 seconds. Lower your knee and repeat with the other knee.
  3. Hamstring stretch.  Start sitting with legs extended and toes directed toward the ceiling. Slowly lower the trunk forward over the legs, keeping knees extended, arms outstretched over the legs, and eyes focus ahead.
  4. Chest Stretch-Place one hand on a doorframe, with your upper arm at least 90 degrees to your upper body. Gently lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch across your chest. Hold for up to 20 seconds.
  5. Neck Stretch – ‘Do It While Feeding’ –While feeding/holding baby, tilt your head to one side, lengthening between your neck and shoulder. Do this for both left and right sides.
  6.  Help Your Posture While Picking Up Baby –Before lifting, try to bring your shoulder blades down and towards each other. This should activate your mid and lower traps. It’s a gentle contraction, almost like you are gluing your shoulder blades to your back.

Women who delivered via C-section may need to modify these exercises with their doctor’s approval to prevent abdominal strain. Breastfeeding in itself is actually calming. The hormone prolactin is released during breastfeeding, which gives mom a feeling of peace and tranquility.


Dion Njogu
Physical Therapist
Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Health Centre
 

Isn’t Breastfeeding Supposed To Be Fun

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