HAS BREASTFEEDING BECOME A “PAIN IN THE NECK”?
Let me start this post by saying I’m definitely pro breastfeeding, hence between my two children I breastfed for a combined time of over 2 years. However, despite the many benefits for both mum and baby, there is a downside for mums, let’s call it, ‘breastfeeding posture syndrome’ (note: this is not a technical term – I have just made it up). Let’s face it, the reality is mums are almost always tired, and when their baby is crying for a feed (daytime or in the middle of the night), typically all a mum thinks about is getting milk into her little cherub, and generally is not too concerned about whether she is in the most supportive chair, with text book posture, engaged tummy muscles, feet on a footstool, and everything she needs during the feed in arms reach… I think you get my point. The ideal and the reality are not in sync most of the time. Let me add that I am not encouraging an unfavourable set up, I am just keeping it real and I understand what actually happens.
So let’s look now at what you can do to help ease tightness around your neck, shoulders and upper back- these are the areas that suffer the most from the often hunched over position during breastfeeding. Here are four easy stretches that should take no more than a couple minutes, so no excuses!
- Bending your left arm, place it behind your back
- Place your right arm on your head and gently pull towards your shoulder until stretch is felt
- Repeat on other side
CHEST AND ARMS
- Interlace your fingers behind your back
- Turn your elbows inward and slowly raise your arms
- Make sure you do not arch your back
- Bend your arms and place them out in front
- Wrap your left arm under your right elbow and place your left hand on your right wrist
- Pull your shoulders back, then raise your arms until your feel a stretch around your right shoulder blade
- Lower and repeat on other side
- Place your left hand on the wall with a flat palm and your finger facing behind you
- Turn your shoulders to the right side until a stretch is felt and hold
- Repeat on other side
Please be aware that the hormone relaxin remains in your system for up to 5 months after you give birth. Do not push your stretches too far during this time.
Here are a couple of simple tips to help prevent that “pain in the neck”:
- Don’t continue to look at your baby throughout the feed (yes I know this can be hard as they are quiet and very cute while feeding)
- Bring your baby to breast, not your breast to baby!
A common question I have been asked by many new mums is:
Can I exercise if I am breastfeeding?
The short answer is yes. Of course low impact exercise is less likely to make the breasts sore. You might choose to exercise after feeding your baby, so your breasts won’t feel uncomfortably full.
Some research suggests that breastfeeding straight after very rigorous exercise, can cause milk to contain high levels of lactic acid that can temporarily affect taste. However, this only applies to truly strenuous exercise .