How to Breastfeed Your Baby Without Back and Neck Pain
This is the fifth part of the “ Postpartum Pain Clinic”, consisting of several parts devoted to the treatment of pain and pain that occurs with the care of newborns and babies.
So far, in our online parenting clinic, we’ve covered how to hold a baby , how to change a baby’s diaper , how to push a stroller, and how to carry a diaper bag without hurting your neck, wrists or back (or at least exacerbates the problem ). This week we’ll look at another source of postpartum pain: breastfeeding.
Of course, the early days of breastfeeding can be tough: getting a baby to latch on properly can sometimes take weeks or even months of effort, and many women suffer severe breast and nipple damage as they and their baby learn to do this. And even after this is dealt with, mothers still experience neck and back pain that comes from hunched over and uncomfortable breastfeeding positions.
I spoke with Stephanie Leaf, a postpartum physical therapist and director of New Leaf Physical Therapy , for the best advice on preventing and treating neck and back pain caused by breastfeeding a newborn.
“Sit on your back and upright to protect your lower back,” says Leaf. “Move your shoulder blades back to support your neck and upper back.” Keep your baby flat, open arms to avoid tendonitis and wrist pain, and keep both feet on the floor. Bring the child to you and do not slouch in his direction.
A nursing pillow can be a lifesaver for breastfeeding comfortably (I myself have used a terrifyingly called My Breast friend pillow, and on newborn days I sometimes shove an extra pillow to throw under there for support.) Some women swear by a nursing chair to keep their feet and legs supported.
Do not do this:
Liszt says: “Don’t sit hunched over with your legs crossed. Don’t lower your shoulders and don’t lower your head. ” Right before my second child was born, I also picked up a glider from my parenting list, which helped me avoid the neck and upper back pain I had with my first son – I could tilt my head back instead of hunched over the baby.
Also, if you have a newborn, know that it will become much easier for him when the baby is a little older and can reach the breast without significant support. And if you haven’t already, try breastfeeding lying on your side, which, if you have proper head support, can be much more comfortable than sitting.
Do you have severe musculoskeletal pain caused by caring for your baby? Stay tuned for our latest issue next week: How to Pick Up Your Baby.