Breastfeeding postural related aches and pain
"I am a recent mother. And I have been breastfeeding my 3-month old baby daughter. Since about 2 months ago, I have started have neck aches and around my upper back. I think this is related to my breastfeeding posture. Is there anything I can do about it? Thanks in advance! - Melinda Q."
Yes, I suspect your pain may be contributed by improper breastfeeding positions and posture. For all breastfeeding postures, the positioning of your body and your baby are extremely important. More often then not, the nursing mummy tends to lean towards the baby, instead of bringing the baby closer to her. Hence, mummy will have the tendency to slouch and crane her neck more towards the baby. Sustained forward chin movements or craning of your neck, lengthens and strains the neck muscles. This strain accumulates over time, leading to soreness and tightness over your neck and upper back.
Some things you can try out:
- Make sure you sit well supported, preferably with a high back chair or using pillows to support behind your back (place pillow vertically).
- A footstool to raise your lap, if your feet is not resting firmly on the floor and the baby is not high enough to feed.
- Place a pillow or two on your lap to support your baby (so baby lay at chest level), draw your shoulder blades back and keep your chin in as you bring your baby towards you for nursing. Experiment with the placing of pillows to achieve the most comfort. Alternatively,there are several "nursing" pillows on the market that help raise baby to a comfortable height and position. Whatever position you choose to nurse in, make sure you have a good posture and feel comfortable.
- Have frequent short breaks (about 30s) while breastfeeding to stretch your neck.
- Place hot packs around neck and upper back for about 20 minutes each time. Alternatively, try showering with warm water over the neck and upper back where it is sore.
If your neck pain does not resolve within 3 months, it is best you seek a women's health physiotherapist to help assess and manage your pains.