How to Avoid Neck and Back Pain when Breastfeeding? With Elodie, director of MyFrenchPhysio.

At French Nanny London, we love new mothers and are dedicated to making their lives easier. We understand that the journey of motherhood can be both beautiful and challenging, which is why we offer comprehensive childcare solutions, including maternity nurses and night nannies. Our goal is to support you every step of the way, ensuring you have the best care and resources at your fingertips.

In this spirit of care and support, we’re delighted to present this article in partnership with My French physio, on good postures for breastfeeding. Proper posture can make a significant difference in your comfort and your baby’s feeding experience. Read on to discover helpful tips and techniques that will make breastfeeding a more pleasant and pain-free experience for you and your little one.

Breastfeeding is a long journey and not always easy at first: the nipple can crack, mastitis can occur, latching can be challenging, …

The early days of breastfeeding can be incredibly demanding and often leave little time or energy to focus on maintaining a good posture. However, it’s essential to prioritize your comfort and well-being whenever possible, as poor posture during breastfeeding can lead to discomfort and even back pain over time.

Elodie Poissenot, a women’s health physiotherapist, director of My French physio is sharing her best tips to enjoy this amazing journey!

What are the good breastfeeding position?

1, The cradle hold,

It is one of the most commonly used positions for breastfeeding. 

A very common mistake is to bend your back, support your baby hand with one hand et bring the nipple toward your baby’s mouth with the other one.

Why could it be bad for your posture?

Your hands are not relaxed, so if feeding lasts too long, you will tense wrists, shoulders and neck.

Your back is hunched, your shoulders are rolled up to bring you closer to baby., leading to upper back pain.

For baby is not ideal either, his head is supported only by your hand that does not completely cover his neck. He will also tense, clenching his jaw and not swallowing the nipple completely. And then your nipple can crack! 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit comfortably: Sit in a chair at 90 degrees with good back support and armrests. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor or on a footstool for stability. Sitting cross-legged or sitting against a wall (or a hard support not to fall in) with legs outstretched are very comfy positions.
  • Maintain proper posture: Sit up straight with your shoulders relaxed and your back supported by the chair. Avoid leaning forward or slouching, as this can strain your back and shoulders.
  • Support your baby: Hold your baby in the crook of your arm on the same side as the breast you’ll be nursing from. Your baby’s head should rest in the bend of your elbow, with their body facing yours. Your hand (active breast side) will slightly support to turn the baby’s head (the main support is the nursing pillow, the hand turns the head to access the nipple)
  • Position your baby: Bring your baby’s mouth to your breast, aiming for their nose to be level with your nipple. Use your free hand to support your breast and guide your baby’s mouth to latch onto your nipple.
  • Achieve a good latch: Wait for your baby to open their mouth wide, then bring them quickly to your breast so that their mouth covers a significant portion of the areola (the darker area around the nipple). Ensure that their lips are flanged outward, not tucked in.
  • Use pillows for support: Use a nursing pillow or cushions to support your arms, back, and baby during breastfeeding. A nursing pillow can be particularly helpful for propping up your baby to breast height and reducing strain on your arms and back.
  • Switch sides: After nursing on one side, burp your baby and then switch to the other breast for the next feeding session. Remember to alternate which arm you use to hold your baby to prevent muscle fatigue and strain.

2. The “side-lying position,” 

Lying down on your side while breastfeeding can be a comfortable and convenient way to nurse your baby, especially during night-time feedings or when you need to rest. You could also do your pelvic floor exercises in this position!

That is my favourite!

Common mistake baby is on the back with just the head turned to the breast. As in the sitting position, baby can not relax its jaw and can not catch the nipple properly. Nipple cracks on the horizon!

Here’s how to breastfeed in the side-lying position effectively

  • Find a comfortable surface: Choose a comfortable bed or couch where you can lie down on your side without any discomfort. Make sure the surface is firm enough to provide support but soft enough to be comfortable for both you and your baby.
  • Position yourself: Lie down on your side with your head resting on a pillow and your body in a relaxed, straight line. Bend your bottom arm and use it as support under your head or pillow.
  • Position your baby: Place your baby on their side facing you, with their body facing your chest. Your baby’s nose should be level with your nipple. You can use your top arm to support your baby’s head and guide them to your breast.
  • Latch your baby: Wait for your baby to open their mouth wide, then bring them closer to your breast so they can latch onto your nipple. Ensure that their mouth covers a significant portion of the areola for a deep latch.
  • Support your breast: Use your free hand to support your breast and help guide your baby’s mouth to the nipple if needed. You can gently compress your breast to encourage milk flow if necessary.
  • Relax and enjoy: Once your baby is latched on and nursing comfortably, you can relax and enjoy the bonding experience. Use pillows or cushions to support your back and keep yourself comfortable during the feeding.

The side-lying position can be a convenient and comfortable option for breastfeeding, especially during nighttime feedings or when you need to rest. However, it’s essential to ensure that both you and your baby are in a safe and comfortable position to prevent any accidents or discomfort. Experiment with different pillows or cushions to find the best support for your body and enjoy the bonding experience of breastfeeding in a relaxed environment. If you’re unsure about breastfeeding in the side-lying position or experiencing any difficulties, consider seeking guidance from a lactation consultant for personalized support and advice.

3. The rugby hold

It is another popular breastfeeding position, particularly useful for mothers who have had a caesarean section, mothers with large breasts, or mothers of twins. In this position, your baby is held under your arm on the same side as the breast you’re nursing from, with their body positioned alongside yours, similar to how a rugby player holds a ball. 

It is not an easy one, but it is essential to alternate positions!

Here’s how to do it:

  • Find a comfortable seating position: Sit in a chair with good back support or on a bed with pillows behind your back for support. Ensure your feet are flat on the floor or on a footstool for stability or cross your legs. Put a pillow on your side to support your baby.
  • Maintain proper posture: Sit up straight with your shoulders relaxed and your back supported. Avoid leaning forward or slouching, as this can strain your back and shoulders.
  • Position your baby: Place your baby under your arm on the same side as the breast you’re nursing from, with their body facing towards you. Your baby’s legs can either tuck under your arm or extend behind you, depending on their size and comfort.
  • Support your baby’s head: Use your hand or a nursing pillow to support your baby’s head and neck. Your baby’s head should be positioned at breast level, with their nose aligned with your nipple.
  • Guide your baby to latch: Use your free hand to guide your breast towards your baby’s mouth, ensuring they have a wide open mouth for a deep latch. Your baby’s mouth should cover a significant portion of the areola, not just the nipple.
  • Switch sides: After nursing on one breast, burp your baby and then switch to the other breast if desired. You can easily switch sides by lifting your baby and shifting them to the other arm.

The rugby hold can be particularly helpful for mothers who need to see their baby latch or have difficulty getting their baby to latch in other positions. It also allows for better visibility of your baby’s latch and can be more comfortable for mothers recovering from a caesarean section or experiencing nipple pain.

As with any breastfeeding position, it may take some practice to find the right technique and level of comfort for you and your baby. If you’re having difficulty with the rugby hold or experiencing any discomfort, consider seeking guidance from a lactation consultant for personalized support and advice.

HOW TO STRETCH ?

Here are some stretches that can help alleviate back and neck pain commonly experienced during breastfeeding:

  1. Spinal stretch
    • Sit with legs crossed
    • Keep your pelvis neutral 
    • Gently tuck your chin towards your chest: Without tilting your head up or down, slowly draw your chin in towards your neck as if you’re making a double chin. You should feel a stretch at the back of your neck.
    • Hold the stretch: Hold the position for 5-10 seconds, feeling the stretch along the back of your neck. Remember to breathe deeply and relax your shoulders.
    • Release and repeat: Relax your chin back to a neutral position, then repeat the movement for a total of 5-10 repetitions.
  1. Upper Back Stretch:
    • Sit or stand tall with your spine straight.
    • Clasp your hands together in front of you, palms facing outward.
    • Extend your arms forward and round your upper back, like you’re hugging a big beach ball.
    • Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds while breathing deeply.
    • Repeat 2-3 times.
  1. Shoulder Rolls:
    • Sit or stand tall with your arms relaxed by your sides.
    • Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, then roll them back in a circular motion, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
    • Continue the circular motion for 10-15 repetitions, then reverse the direction for another 10-15 repetitions.
  1. Neck Stretch:
    • Sit or stand tall with your spine straight.
    • Slowly tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder until you feel a gentle stretch along the side of your neck.
    • Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, then return to the starting position.
    • Repeat on the other side.
    • You can also gently rotate your head from side to side to release tension in the neck muscles.
  1. Chest Opener Stretch:
    • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
    • Clasp your hands behind your back and straighten your arms.
    • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your hands away from your body, opening up your chest.
    • Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds while breathing deeply.
    • Repeat 2-3 times.
  1. Child’s Pose Stretch:
    • Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
    • Sit back onto your heels, lowering your chest towards the floor and reaching your arms out in front of you.
    • Relax your forehead to the floor and let your chest sink towards the ground.
    • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute while breathing deeply.
    • To deepen the stretch, walk your hands to one side, then the other, to stretch the side of your body.

These stretches can help relieve tension and stiffness in the back and neck, promoting relaxation and comfort during breastfeeding. 

Incorporate them into your daily routine to help prevent and alleviate back and neck pain. If you experience persistent or severe pain, consult with a healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.

Make sure to change position regularly, always be comfortable while breastfeeding (if you feel crunching, your baby will be too).

The moment of feeding must be a moment of sharing and connections with your baby, each of you 2 must be relaxed to enjoy it.

For further information, the Leache League is a gold mine of breastfeeding questions and answers.

Don’t hesitate to Contact MyFrenchPhysio (www.myfrenchphysio.london) to book an appointment with their Women’s health physio!

For childcare solutions tailored to your needs, contact us French Nanny London at families@french-nanny-london.com !

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