Did you just start nursing and noticed after nursing your back hurts? Or maybe when you are done nursing it is hard to stand up straight? When I was nursing, I found that learning to nurse was hard. It is not comfortable at the beginning and actually pretty painful. Both baby and I were learning a new skill that should come naturally to each of us, but still needs tender care to get the hang of.
While I went through the many steps of figuring this special relationship out with my daughter, I also noticed that my back wasn’t feeling good. And, if you follow our blog, you know that I’m a chiropractor and I couldn’t live like that. I started noticing my posture while nursing and linked my pain to a few critical things I was doing. I came up with a few ways to help me prevent my back pain and I want to share them with you, because I am sure I am not the only one.
Here are 6 ways to help you manage and decrease back pain that may come from nursing posture.
1. Raise Baby to You
Always try to bring baby to you instead of you leaning down to baby. Use pillows to help bring baby up to you by propping baby on pillows, as well as your arm. When you lean down to meet baby on your lap it leaves you hunched over and puts stress on your spine and back. Sitting in this posture every time to nurse will lead to a sore and achy back. It can also make your back feel stiff after nursing when you try to stand up.
2. Have Correct Sitting Posture
This can be hard when you are trying to learn how to nurse, but once you have that down this should get easier. Make sure to sit on your sit bones, or your ischial tuberosities. These are the bones that are at the bottom of your bottom when you sit. Sitting on those will give you extra support and let other muscles relax. You also want to make sure your elbows, shoulders, and ears are lined up, which will help put you in the correct posture. Picking a comfy but sturdy seat is also very important. The cushy sofa that you sink down into, although comfortable, is not the best for good posture and supporting your back.
3. Supports Ander Arms
As I mentioned above, supporting your arms with pillows or something similar will help your muscles relax and not tense up. Babies get heavy, even the little ones, try not to muscle through it, but relax. This time doesn’t last forever and bonding with your little one is healthy for you both.
4. Limit Looking Down at Baby
This is also another tip that may take some time to adjust to or at least until you and baby get the hang of nursing. At first, when learning, you need to look down to make sure baby is latching correcting and it’s also irresistible not to look down and see the new love of your life comforted and being fed by you. I mean how cool is that? Our bodies are amazing! But looking down off to one side strains your neck. Have you heard of text neck? Similar to that when looking down for extended periods of time it increases tension in your neck muscles and causes poor posture, which can lead to headaches and neck pain.
While we are sitting hunched over learning how to nurse, the best thing to open everything up that was closed off from hunching over is to stretch. The best way to open up the chest is to simply lay on a foam roller vertically. Laying on the roller so your spine is supported, let your arms and shoulders hang to the side while your legs relax on the floor. This will stretch your pectorals major and minor, as well as restore your shoulder’s function. Not only does this feel amazing, but it gives you a jump start to feeling better. Give your baby some tummy time while you stretch!
6. Get Adjusted
The last tip, and the most important, is to get adjusted. Luckily, my husband is my chiropractor, so getting adjusted was convenient, but regular chiropractic adjustments will help make sure your spine is moving properly and functioning at its best. Your nervous system is your body’s message system, so when it is not functioning properly it can’t get messages from point A to point B. This is when we start to see tight muscles, pain, and fatigue. With the added bad posture and stress with nursing, your spine may not be moving as well as it should, which leads to a decrease in function of your nervous system. And since we already know that your nervous system pretty much is in charge of keeping you alive, it is super important to keep it healthy. When your spine moves better you will feel less stiff and have less back pain to enjoy that bundle of joy more.
Our bodies are amazing and the power inside us is unstoppable. Nursing is hard and challenging, but so rewarding for you and baby. You are doing a great job mama! Keep it up! Try these tips to help you feel even better after nursing and share them with a friend who could use them, too.
If you need a chiropractor and are in the Bay Area give us a call. We would love to take care of you! And if you are not in the Bay Area, check out the ICPA website (http://icpa4kids.org/Find-a-Chiropractor/) to find a local prenatal/pediatric chiropractor in your area.