How to Relieve Back and Neck Pain When Feeding Your Baby

Guest Blog from Jessica at Treetots Yoga in Totnes, UK

New mother’s neck and upper back pain

Neck and upper back pain is common in new mothers, particularly those who are breastfeeding. A rounded shoulder position and forward neck posture puts a strain on the jointsand discs in the neck and upper back. This is a very easy posture to get into when feeding and once baby has latched on is difficult to correct.

Symptoms

Pain is often achy with a tight feeling between the shoulder blades or the back of the neck.

In the neck there may also be sharp twinges on sudden movement, stiffness, or achy discomfort.

Managing Neck and upper back pain.

Chiropractic treatment for neck and upper back pain pain includes releasing stiff joints using gentle joint manipulation to free the movement of the joints. Massage techniques are also employed to relieve muscle tension across the shoulders, between the shoulder blades and at the base of the skull. The most important action in reducing neck pain is correction of postures which are causing the problem.

The following should be practiced to minimise strain on the neck and upper back:

  • Stand with the head held high and chin tucked, not jutting out.
  • Relax the shoulders back and down, even when carrying you’re your baby there is no need to hunch up your shoulders.
  • Try to alternate which side you carry your baby on.
  • Get comfortable when breastfeeding, sit with your shoulders back and use supports and cushions to raise the baby up to your breast rather than lowering yourself down to the baby.
  • When feeding check for tension in your shoulders and whether your head is forward.

 

Notice the difference in posture in the second picture below to the first picture.

Back is straight and well supported, shoulders relaxed, elbows hang vertically below shoulders, neck straight and looking forward, knees lower than hips, and baby well propped in cushions to hold them at the right height without strain on Mum’s neck and shoulders: 

comfy Mum- good latch- happy baby! 
 
All these points can apply to a well supported sitting position on a chair.


Below are some stretches to release tightness in the neck and between the shoulder blades.

Shoulders, stretch 1: 

Pull arm across body keeping torso facing forward.
 


Shoulders, stretch 2: 

Put backs of forearms together with elbows one on top of the other, it doesn’t matter if you can’t link palms. Gently push elbows downwards and pull arms outwards against each other, keeping them linked. You should feel a stretch between the shoulder blades.


Shoulders and upper back stretch 3: 

Kneel on the floor and lengthen arms in front. Reach as far forward as possible feeling a stretch in the upper back.


Neck strengthening: 

Lie flat and tuck chin to lengthen back of neck. Push head gently backwards into the mat (if you have a hard floor you can use a small cushion or towel). This will release muscles at the back of the neck whilst strengthening the deep muscles in the neck.

The content in this factsheet is intended as general advice only and does not replace a diagnosis by a qualified professional. It is based our combined professional opinions. Do not carry out stretches or exercises which cause pain, discontinue and seek advice. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

Sally Scott is a Chiropractor with a special interest in pre and postnatal care. She is based in Chorlton, Manchester http://www.sallyscottchiropractor.com

Jessica Healy is a baby and toddler birthlight yoga teacher with classes in Totnes. She is also a mum of three. More information can be found on http://www.treetotsyoga.com
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How to Bring the Principles of Yoga onto Your Bike

5 Ways to Improve Your Posture while Cycling on an Upright Bike.

  1. Lengthen Your Spine: 

Imagine there’s a peice of string pulling the crown of your head towards the sky as you cycle along. Really feel the space opening out between the vertebrae in your spine. Try and elongate your spine and imagine yourself two inches taller.  

2. Engage Your Stomach Muscles

Understand that in order to protect your spine, you must make your stomach muscles work. Try tilting your pelvis forward slightly, as if you zipping up some trousers.

3. Bring Your Shoulders Down

Make sure there is a space between your shoulders and your ears. Bring your shoulders all the way up to your ears and then allow them to drop down. That’s where they should be.

4. Awareness

As you cycle along, observe the abundance of the world. Notice the leaves or branches of the trees, notice the patterns in nature and the patterns made by

man. Feel the breeze on your face.

5. Smile

It’s OK. Cycling is fun! Put a little yogic smile on your face as you whizz along.

For some yoga poses to help stretch you out after a big cycle, please click here.