Pregnancy and birth can wreak havoc on a mom’s body. Many women experience arm, neck, and back pain either during pregnancy or while breastfeeding and caring for an infant. The three main culprits for this discomfort are:
- Hormones. A mom’s body has to prepare itself for birth and hormones are in part responsible for these changes. They have an effect on the ligaments, which may cause swelling, pain, and unease. Both hormone levels and the ligaments take a while after birth to readjust, which can leave a new mom’s body out of whack.
- Childbirth. The act of giving birth to another human puts an enormous strain on a mom’s back, not to mention the nether regions. It can take several weeks—even upwards of six—for the body to recover from childbirth, and many aspects, such as how difficult the birth was, how much rest a mom is getting, and how well she’s breastfeeding, all contribute to how quickly she recovers.
- Recovery. After giving birth, the body has to readjust to the shape it was in prior to pregnancy. Something as simple as fluid retention and swelling, which can cause pain and breastfeeding, can exacerbate any problems with the arms, neck, and back.
Here are some tips on how to avoid or reduce back, arm, and neck pain while breastfeeding.
- Ergonomics. While finding a comfortable spot when breastfeeding is crucial, the most important aspect to keep in mind is that you should be ensuring that the baby is brought up to your chest (instead of leaning down to breastfeed). This will promote an ergonomic posture and will reduce any existing strain on the back and neck.
- Support. It can be helpful to add extra pillows to support your back while breastfeeding and a chair with armrests will also help support the baby’s weight. If you suffer from arm, neck, or back pain, but would like to be more mobile, a sling or a KoalaKin can be a great investment, as they offer support of the baby’s weight and are comfortable to use when out and about.
- Nursing and Pumping Bras. Choosing a well-fitting maternity or nursing bra will offer you additional support to the breasts and to the back during the nursing stage. A professional fitting can help to make sure that you buy the best shape, size, and design for your needs.
- Stretching. Regularly stretching out your neck and back musculature after breastfeeding is highly recommended as this will prevent neck and upper back tightness, which can lead to pain and headaches.
These tips should go a long way in taking a lot of stress off the arms, neck, and back and should give you time to focus on what’s really important: bonding with your brand new little one!
What have you discovered? Do you have any tips that helped you ease the strain associated with breastfeeding? Please share in the comments below!