Breastfeeding pain – best avoided

by Michelle Wright (Mishfit)

Any new mum will tell you that you will love your new baby so much that you will ache. Unfortunately the breastfeeding pain or ache can often occur in the shoulders, neck, upper and lower back. New mums are prone to back and neck pain due to the long hours they will stay in one position while nursing and calming their newborns.

Whether you breast feed or bottle feed, your posture will often be compromised for the long periods of time that you feed.  Add into the mix lack of sleep and even the strongest bodies can bend and slump. This can pose for many women both short and long-term issues.

In the haze of those early days when your baby’s needs are king, mothers will often soldier on putting their needs last until it turns from ache to chronic breastfeeding pain. And like any repetitive stress injury, the rehabilitation journey can be long and slow.

To keep optimal back, neck and shoulder health during this precious time, here are my 5 top tips to reduce breastfeeding pain.

  1. Become ambidextrous

Notice what arm you habitually use to carry the capsule or shopping, or what hip you keep baby on and try using the other side. Sure it will feel weird to begin with, but it really will go a long way in evening out the muscles in our body

  1. Post reminders to roll your shoulders around and back

Instead of shying away from mirrors, use them to remind yourself about your posture. Sit or stand tall and draw back your shoulders as if to lift your breasts off your chest. Also bring your chin parallel to the floor and draw your ears back to line up with your shoulders

  1. Push the pram with a tall spine

Getting out and about with baby is not only essential for your physical health, but also for you mental health. Try to walk tall and notice if you hips are always rolling back (as your body may still be in pregnancy posture purely through habit). Rolling your hips forward to align them in neutral spine will help engage your lower abdominals. Breathe deep and don’t forget to activate your pelvic floor

  1. Use an ergonomic pillow when breastfeeding

It is essential that you elevate baby to breast, rather than breast to baby. A pillow I thoroughly recommend is UltimateSkies maternity pillow. Not too soft that baby keeps sinking down, or not too hard that baby is uncomfortable, UltimateSkies fits effortlessly to the shape you need for optimal postural support

  1. Seek relief

Get a massage or support through a women’s health physiotherapist at the “niggly” stage of your ache or pains, rather than allowing it to get to the chronic breastfeeding pain stage. Your rehabilitation time will be much shorter and you will feel much better.