Feeding your baby: How to treat/avoid neck and upper back pain.

Neck and upper back pain can be common in the post-partum period. This is caused by different factors such as: long-sustained feeding positions looking down at your baby, carrying your baby on the same side or placing them over the same shoulder. These can provoke postural imbalances and muscle tension. 

Possible symptoms may be:

  • Tension  in the neck and/or back that can spread down to your arms;
  • Cervicogenic headaches;
  • Pain when lifting, feeding, carrying your baby;

Here some tips to manage these symptoms:

  • Breastfeeding positions

First, make sure that you and your baby are comfortable, your shoulders should stay relaxed and the neck of your baby should be well supported. Try to avoid keeping your neck bent down throughout feeding because this posture can strain your neck. Use pillows to support your arms and back and to raise your baby towards you. 

  • Regular stretches

After feeding, perform stretches for your neck and upper back such as: neck and upper back range of movement exercises. 

  • Strengthening

During pregnancy and after delivery, mum's bodies often go through significant changes. You can strengthen your body with resistance exercises such as wall push ups which work the arm and upper back muscles that you use to lift and carry your baby. Your physiotherapist can give you extra guidance about how to make your body stronger. 

Keep an eye on how you lift and carry your baby, as it is important to equally distribute the weight when lifting.

  • Drink enough water

Water makes up two thirds of our body, it is therefore vital to drink to maintain a healthy balance. 

  • Muscle release & Heat 

You can do this by simply using a tennis or spiky ball. Here is an example of how to use it: 

  1. Stand with your back against a wall with a tennis ball between the wall and your upper back with the ball on one side of your spine, into your muscle belly.
  2. Move the ball around in all directions until you find a tender spot.
  3. Using your body weight, press the ball gently into the wall.
  4. Roll up and down slowly on the ball, massaging any knots you may encounter.
  5. Repeat on the other side of the spine. 

The use of heat packs can also help to relieve muscle tension. Always remember to protect your skin with a cloth to avoid burns. The heat pack should not be too hot and you should keep it on for about 20 minutes. 

  • Use a HEADREST in the car

Supporting your neck and back in the car will give your muscles a chance to relax.

While these things can make a difference it is important to seek advice from a professional Women’s Health Physiotherapist for a full Assessment and to tailor your exercise program to your specific needs.