Breastfeeding Posture Tips

Posted on in Back Pain, Postpartum, Posture by Dr. Marie Battaglia

breastfeeding

Do you feel stiff after a breastfeeding session, experience tense shoulders, headaches, neck and upper back pain?

Breastfeeding (and bottle-feeding) can take a toll on your body. As a busy mom, this is the last thing you want to deal with. Not only that, your baby may also experience some unintentional discomfort as a result… it’s definitely not an easy task!

Here are some do’s and dont’s when it comes to breastfeeding ergonomics for you and your little one:

For MOM:

Look Up. I know, all you want to do is gaze downwards at your little pride and joy. However, every few minutes take a moment to look up and get some movement in your neck – look up and down, and side to side a few times in each direction.

Loosen Up. It’s easy to tense up your shoulders and upper back and not even realize it. Using pillows when possible to support the baby and bring them up to your chest level will help give your arms and shoulders a rest.

Straight Lines. Be aware of the angle you carry your elbows and wrists in. If you’re finding your wrist in some contorted position readjust to straighten it out.

Change It Up. Changing positions or places to sit will help alleviate pain and tension in your neck, back and shoulders.

For BABY:

Relax. Being rigid with the forearm and hand that are supporting your baby’s head may create pressure on your baby’s delicate spine and skull. The bones of their skull are still malleable so be sure to avoid sustained pressure to the head.

Change It Up. Changing positions while breastfeeding often is not only good for you, but for your baby as well.

Stay Neutral. Keeping your baby’s head and neck in a neutral position while feeding is important. Avoid extreme neck rotation where their body is facing up to the ceiling and their head is facing you. Bring their chest to your chest to keep their neck neutral. Also keep an eye on their lower back and legs. It is common as babies get longer for their legs to dangle off your lap, creating excessive extension in their lower back. Make sure their whole pelvis is supported to avoid this.

I get it, sometimes you need to breastfeed in super awkward positions, on the go, in the back seat of the car, wherever. You often sacrifice your body to make sure your baby is comfy. And even if you do your best to be ergonomically sound while feeding it is still a stressor on your body.

Here are some action steps you can take to keep your body functioning well despite the stress:

Stretch Your Pecs. Using a doorway, place your forearm against the trim (shoulder and elbow at 90 degrees). Shift your body forward and hold position for 30 seconds per side.

breastfeeding
doorway stretch

Wall Angels. Lean against a wall so that your butt, shoulders, and head are all touching. Bring your arms up to meet the wall so that your elbows and wrists are touching it and your shoulders and elbows are at 90 degrees. Slide your arms overhead while maintaing contact with the wall. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps. 

breastfeeding
wall angels

Chin Tucks. Begin by standing with your back and head against a wall. Look forward with your shoulders back. Bring awareness to your core muscles and activate them. Now attempt to draw your head directly backwards into the wall while maintaining a level head position (don’t tilt your chin up or down). Hold for 2 seconds. Return to start position and perform 3 sets of 10 reps. 

breastfeeding
chin tucks

Chiropractic Check Ups. Your spine directly affects your Nervous System. Your Nervous System controls every function in your body. Poor posture, aches and pains, and stiffness are all signs that your spine & nervous system are over stressed. Chiropractic care enhances the function of your spine and nervous system, allowing your body to heal and operate at its highest level possible.

This has been the single best thing I have done since my baby was born (and throughout my pregnancy) to keep my body feeling and working great! I hope you found these tips helpful. Get started on those exercises right away and if you aren’t already seeing a Family Chiropractor who offers prenatal and postnatal care, book a consultation today! 

I’m Dr. Marie and helping moms be more effective, happy, and healthy humans is my passion. I love working with people to create a holistic plan that leads to more energy, less pain, better sleep, happier pregnancies, smoother births, better post partums, and healthier babies and families. Dr. Graham and I are life partners, business partners, and parenting partners to our two daughters, Zoey & Eloise. It definitely keeps life interesting but we wouldn’t have it any other way.