New moms often face many challenges when it comes to feeding their babies. That first month as a new parent may be a blend of survival-mode with a never-ending question of “Am I doing this right?” So naturally, posture and body mechanics may be the last thing on their minds. Sleep deprivation and “whatever works” rein supreme in those early weeks of caring for a newborn. Additionally, the sudden onset of these new nursing and pumping postures often add to the extensive discomfort a mom is already experiencing (i.e. from traumatic labor, hormonal changes, insomnia).
Breastfeeding mothers often have neck and shoulder pain due to the slumped posture they find themselves in while feeding their babies. This can be magnified if you are having trouble with your baby latching during nursing sessions and you find yourself looking down to make sure everything is positioned just right. For those that need to pump milk, they may have similar challenges and find themselves looking down to make sure the flanges are positioned correctly or are hyper-fixated on milk flow or quantity!
As a mom of two little ones, I have been in your shoes and know all-to-well about latching issues, pumping schedules, undersupplies, and oversupplies. Despite all these differences, one thing stayed consistent…Me feeling so much tension in my upper back, neck, and shoulders. This is why I wanted to reach out and give a little TLC to those new mamas out there.
Let’s talk about 3 EASY things you can do to help improve your posture and make you feel a little more like yourself…
With your arms relaxed by your sides or in your lap, squeeze your shoulder blades back and downwards, away from your ears.
Gently draw your chin inwards (not down) while simultaneously lifting the crown of your head up towards the ceiling. Imagine a string is pulling you upwards, making you taller.
Try this reset several times throughout the day: 3-5 reps, holding for 5 seconds each.
Isometric External Rotation with Towel
Sitting with tall posture and elbows bent and by your sides, gently pull outwards on the towel.
Engage your back muscles by squeezing your shoulder blades together during the towel pull.
Perform 5-10 reps, holding these muscle contractions for 3-5 seconds.
Open Book / Thoracic Rotation
Lay on your side with your neck supported by a pillow and your legs bent so your hips are at a 90 degree angle with your torso. Optional: Place a pillow between your knees for comfort.
With both arms extended out front, take the top arm and rotate it open to the opposite side (like opening a book). Make sure to rotate your head as well to fully open up the chest and thoracic spine.
Hold open for about 3-5 seconds or a few deep breaths. Return to your starting position.
Perform 5-10 reps on each side. Remember to only stretch to your comfort level and avoid pushing into any painful ranges.
Disclaimer: As with any stretch or exercise routine, please make sure your body is ready and consult with your healthcare provider as needed. These exercises are meant to be gentle and should not be increasing your symptoms. These are general suggestions and should not supersede personal medical advice from your doctor.