Updated: Jun 2
Whether you are new mum or mum again, breastfeeding your little one can definitely take a toll on your body. Stretching is one important activity to help ease tension in your body and ease your feeding journey.
Mums who bottle feed their little one may also find useful tips and stretches to ease neck and back tension, so keep reading.
Most women may recognise a stiff and tight upper back, tight shoulders and/or neck pain which can also be associated with headaches and/or migraines in some cases. To reduce your pain, here are some postural tips and stretches to make breastfeeding a bit more enjoyable for you.
Childs Pose - Start in all fours position (crawling position) and lean to rest your buttocks on your heels. This is an easy and gentle stretch for your back and hip muscles. To get a deeper stretch of the upper back and shoulder muscles, bend your arms up behind your head and place the palms of your hands toughing together.
Cat/Cow mobilisation - Start in all fours position (crawling position) and align your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Inhale and arch your spine so that you tilt your pelvis and your tailbone points to the ceiling, take your gaze up to the ceiling without over curling your neck (should not cause pain). Hold position for 10-20 seconds. Then exhale and tilt your pelvis forward and tuck your tailbone under as you curl your neck down and tuck your chin in. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 3x.
Downward Dog - Start in all fours position crawling position) and align your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Bring your hands slightly forward of your shoulders and spread your fingers. Tuck your toes under, and exhale as you engage your lower belly drawing the navel back to the spine. Press through your hands and lift your hips back and up to bring yourself into an upside-down V pose. Keep your knees bent in the beginning as it is more important to lengthen your spine. Hold for 5 breaths and then return to start position and bring your knees back to the floor.
Eagle arms - In a kneeling or standing position, begin by reaching your arms out in front of you with palms facing down. Then cross your arms and wrap them around yourself, like you are giving yourself a hug, with the right arm on top of the left arm. Hold for 10-20 seconds.
Resistance Band - In a standing position, with one hand holding the end of a resistance band bring it up behind your head and find the end of the resistance band with your other hand from behind your mid-low back. With both hands holding each end of the resistance band give a gentle pull and hold for 8-10 seconds. Repeat with hands in opposite positions. Repeat 2x.
Sitting position - choosing a position and chair you are comfortable sitting in can ease back and neck pain experienced with breastfeeding. With an upright and comfortable posture we can also ease hunching and chronic shoulder tightness. Good posture can also help improve milk flow and ease the stress of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding pillow - using a breastfeeding pillow can help you keep an upright posture, by bringing baby closer to you instead of hunching further down. It also helps by taking weight and pressure off your arms so your shoulders can stay relaxed during a feed.
Heat pack - using a heat pack across the shoulders (during/after feeds) can also keep shoulder muscles relaxed and ease chronic tightness.
Chiropractic - get adjusted! Chiropractic adjustments can help restore your function, mobility and reduce pain levels in your neck and back to ease the comfort of breastfeeding your little one.
In the early days, weeks and months post birth it is important to allow yourself time to heal, so go easy on yourself. Be gentle on your body to allow it time to heal by finding a nice balance of gentle movement, stretches and rest.