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3 Questions to Ask Yourself About Breast Feeding Posture

Breastfeeding for your body.

Breastfeeding can be hard, especially when you first get started. The emphasis (and often for good reason) is on getting the baby to latch to the breast. However, this often leaves the mom’s posture neglected which can lead to upper back and neck pain and strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, low back pain and strain, and headaches.

Here are 3 questions you can ask yourself while breastfeeding to determine whether you are in the best possible position or need to adjust yourself or your environment to prevent injury. 

1. Are you bringing your breast down to the baby?

If you are leaning over to bring your breast to the baby’s mouth, you most likely are sitting with bad posture. To bring the breast down to the baby, you will round your shoulders forward and often compensate with neck extension. Both of these can lead to numbness and tingling in your hands / arms, strain in your upper back and neck, and headaches. 

Here’s how to correct it:

  • –Use props (pillows) to lift the baby up to the breast.
  • –You should have enough props to bring the baby to the breast height.
  • –You should be able to sit with good posture, shoulders down and slightly squeezed back and head / neck in a neutral position. If you have a long torso, this may require 2-3 pillows to bring the baby up.
  • –You can put a regular sleeping pillow under your nursing pillow. 

2. Are your legs crossed?

During pregnancy and postpartum hormones cause your ligaments to be lax which can make your joints more susceptible to hypermobility or moving more than they should. When you cross your legs (especially only one direction as we all tend to do), you place a lot of stress on your sacroiliac joints of the pelvis. This can cause low back and buttock pain long term. 

Here’s how to correct it:

  • Uncross those legs! Even if you are on a recliner or glider with your legs out straight, uncross those ankles!
  • If you ABSOLUTELY must cross your legs, make sure to switch sides frequently, but allowing for equal amount of time on each side.
  • The best position is sitting far back in your chair with both feet on the floor or a small nursing stool that adjusts the angle of your feet such as this one

3. Are you gripping with your upper arms, forearms, or hands?

In the beginning, you are so tired and often worried about dropping the baby, so you instinctively grip on the baby and nursing pillows with very stiff, tight arms. This can lead to increased tension in the neck and arms which can lead to nerve symptoms like thoracic outlet and carpal tunnel syndrome. It can also tighten the muscles around the neck and head causing headaches. 

Here’s how to correct it:

  • –Again, use props or pillows more!
  • –You should be able to prop the baby up to a height that you can sit with good posture and they are so supported that you only need to lightly keep your arms around the baby to keep them in the correct position and from falling.
  • –Switch holds between feeds – if you do a football hold one time, next time switch to a carry hold.
  • –You can always try feeding in sidelying to give your neck / upper back a break, but make sure to use both sides. 

Want to learn more?

Join us for our breastfeeding workshop on October 24th where we will be discussing a variety of topics related to breastfeeding and the mom’s body. 

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