At the clinic we see a lot of mothers struggling with back pain from breast feeding. If back pain is stopping you from breastfeeding or making breast feeding difficult then this is the blog for you.
The choice to breastfeed or not is an individual one which should be respected, however some ladies feel that they have to give up sooner than they would have liked due to back pain.
Why can breastfeeding cause back pain?
There are several changes that occur in your body during pregnancy that will still be present in the early stages post partum. One of those changes is the presence of the hormone Relaxin. This hormone has helped your body to go through pregnancy and labour by helping your ligaments to become lax and allow your joints to move more freely. However, after birth this hormone can stay in the body for 3 months if you are not breastfeeding, and up to 6 months if you are, this differs depending on how long you breast feed for.
This hormone can contribute to new mum’s finding it more difficult to maintain a good posture and in turn it can increase loading on your joints.
To help cope with this we encourage mums to focus on their position whilst breast feeding, different positions will work for different mums and babies. Remember this may change as your baby grows too.
Below are some preferential positions for breastfeeding from a Chiropractic perspective (Chirobeans Worldpress.)
The ‘Cradle hold’, ‘Cross cradle hold’ ,‘Football hold for twins’, “side laying”
*Photos from momjunction.com
- Neck stretches are recommended after feeding to help reduce the accumulative stresses that may build in your body from repetitive feeds. If you are not sure how to do this please speak to your Chiropractor.
- Sitting in a chair with your feet touching the ground can help distribute weight equally. Make sure that the chair is supportive to your lower back, if not roll up a towel or place a pillow in the base of the spine to help maintain a good posture.
- Resting your elbow of the hand supporting the breast on a pillow can help to reduce shoulder hiking.
- Try not to keep looking down at the baby corn long periods, eye contact can be important to help the baby to latch on but once the baby is feeding looking up can help reduce pressure on the neck muscles.
- Use a large dense pillow to lift the baby higher up to you, this can help reduce strain on your neck and back.
- Laying down on your back or side can help too.
- The use of a pillow under your head can help support the neck, and one between your knees can help protect your lower back if you are lying on your side. If you chose to lie on your back a pillow under the head is again useful along with one or two under your knees to encourage a small knee bend
If you are struggling with neck and back pain whilst feeding and these positions don’t seem to help book a consultation today. We have Chiropractors at both the Newport and Cardiff Clinics specifically training to help with issues faceing new mums and their babies.
Written by Dr Rachael Hughes (Doctor of Chiropractic)