You have just given birth to your child and are both overjoyed and overwhelmed. As you begin to settle in to being a new mom, enjoying the quiet times feeding your child, something unexpected happens: back pain. Although back pain associated with breast-feeding is very discouraging to a new mom, it is a common experience. The stress and strain placed on a new mom’s body caused by hormonal changes preparing her for birth and lactation play a major role in back pain. Change in body weight as well as muscles stretched and weakened by the birth process cause postural changes that also contribute to back pain. However, back pain does not have to keep a new mom from enjoying those new moments with her child. Listed below are a few tips to help ease that pain.
Wear a nursing bra that provides proper support. Finding the right bra that is easy to use while nursing and provides support without placing pressure on the neck and shoulders may be initially difficult. Consulting with the maternity nurse or maternity clothing store prior to giving birth is a good first step.
Use a chair that supports your back while nursing. Rocking chairs and gliders are designed to provide a new mom with back support. Straight back chairs also provide support and can be used effectively. Beds and soft couches do not provide as much support and often require the use of pillows to support the new mom and the child.
When feeding try to sit straight and avoid bending over to feed your child. Bending forward while nursing and holding a 6-10 pound child places a great deal of stress on the neck and upper back especially between the shoulder blades. Bringing the baby up to you will help you to sit straighter and decrease the stress placed on your neck and upper back. Rocking chairs are generally designed to help minimize bending forward while feeding.
Use pillows to provide support for you and your baby when needed. One of the most commonly used pillows during nursing is a U shaped pillow that allows a new mom to sit straighter and provides support for the child. U-shape pillows are most effective when using a straight-back chair, bed or soft couch. Using regular pillows to support a new mom and the child can be done but requires experimentation to find the right combination and position of the pillows.
Use a small footstool when nursing. Using a small footstool when nursing will help you sit straighter and reduce the stress placed on your mid and low back. The height of the stool should allow you to sit comfortably without excessively bending or extending your knees. Old telephone books will due in a pinch.
Begin a gentle exercise and stretching program as soon as possible. Being a new mom is a full-time job that requires lifting, bending and twisting many times throughout the day. Even though all of these activities are for your child, they still place extra stress and strain on your back and spine. As soon as possible, begin a gentle exercise and stretching program that is designed to strengthen upper and lower back muscles as well as abdominal muscles. These core muscle groups will help support you during the day. Gentle stretching will help to reduce the strain placed on the spine and muscles. Initially this program should take 15-30 minutes with a gradual increase as your body and available time allows. A good time to begin this program is during the baby’s nap.
Create an environment that promotes relaxation. Creating an environment that allows both you and your new baby to be comfortable when nursing is essential. Using the tips listed above will help a new mom feel comfortable when nursing and minimize the strain placed on her body throughout the day. These tips can also help a new mom adapt in an environment that is not ideal and still feel comfortable.