Breastfeeding can be a pain in the back: How to avoid discomfort and strain

Breastfeeding is a beautiful and fulfilling experience for both mother and baby. However, it is not always a walk in the park, especially when it comes to posture and muscle strain. If you are experiencing uncomfortable pain or muscle imbalance due to breastfeeding, you are not alone. In this blog, we will discuss how breastfeeding can be hard on your back and what you can do to reduce pain and improve your comfort level. Let’s dive in!

Breastfeeding is a static postural disturbance, which means that your body remains in one position for an extended period of time. This can cause strain and muscle imbalance in your back, neck, shoulders, and hips. The solution is to move, stretch, and change positions often. Laid back/biological nurturing is a great hands-free position that is comfortable for both you and your baby. This position relies on gravity to support your baby when they lay on top of you, reducing the strain on your back.

Another beneficial position is side-lying. This is particularly helpful when you are tired or need to control the flow of milk. Side-lying also reduces pressure on your perineum or tummy while the tissues heal after delivery. Switching sides regularly ensures that you are feeding equally on both sides and avoiding muscle imbalance.

Using pillows to support a neutral spinal position and to support the baby can also be helpful. You can use a nursing pillow or simply place a few pillows under your arms and behind your back to provide support. This way, you will avoid hunching your shoulders or leaning forward, which can cause pain and discomfort.

Now, let’s talk about the positions that increase strain and should be limited. Sitting at the edge of a seat or bed, leaning forward or sitting without support can exacerbate back pain and strain. The cross-cradle hold and cradle position require increased trunk flexion and reach to support the infant. Prolonged adoption of these positions may predispose nursing mothers to breast-feeding-related postural issues.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience, but it can be hard on your back. The key is to find a comfortable position that works for both you and your baby, and to switch positions often. Using pillows to provide support and maintaining a neutral spinal position can reduce pain and muscle imbalance. Avoiding positions that increase strain, such as sitting without support or reaching too far, will also benefit your posture. Your physiotherapist can help you with specific exercises to correct any postural problems. Remember, a little support goes a long way when it comes to preventing discomfort and improving your breastfeeding experience.