Anyone who has experienced the pain knows, it is a pain in the neck! Maybe even the shoulder, arm, and across the mid-back.
Pain occurs in the neck, mid back, shoulder blade region and shoulders while nursing primarily due to the posture we sit in for 15-30 minutes, every 2-3 hours. Holding the baby up with the arm, bringing the shoulder up towards the ear, and turning the head down to gaze at the baby puts strain on the neck and can start to cause postural pain, nerve pressure and muscle strains over the course of weeks or months of nursing. Do not give up on nursing if neck pain begins. I have some suggestions that may help improve your symptoms. Trust me, a 30-60 minute massage is amazing! You are worth it! Think of it as an extra hour nap.
- Avoid forward slouching while nursing.
- Sit in a comfortable, supportive chair. Use a tall backed chair so you can rest your neck by extended it backward slightly. Consider using a neck roll, travel pillow or neck support pillow. A glider or rocker are the most commonly used chairs.
- Use a footstool to support feet. This is especially important for petite moms, who cannot touch their feet to the ground when sitting in the glider or rocker. If your feet do not naturally touch the ground when seated back in the chair, you will start to lean forward while nursing and your posture will slouch. Even for taller moms, resting your feet on a stool and letting the low back relax is helpful for back and posture.
- Place a pillow under your lower back for support. This may decrease lower back fatigue.
- Support your arms. Many nursing pillows allow for support under the arm and across the body for the baby. The proper fit should keep the shoulder even when nursing, not up near the ear or hanging. Either the shoulder too high or too low will cause neck strain and postural problems that can lead to misalignment’s in your spine.
- Stretching before or after nursing may give some relief. Massage may benefit too.
- See a Doctor of Chiropractic to have a thorough exam to determine if you have a pinching of nerves. When you bend your neck to look at you baby, your neck bones should move freely as nature intended. If the bones are pinching a nerve or are locked then you may feel symptoms associated with nursing mother’s neck. Your chiropractor will explain why this occurs and determine a care plan for correction.
Be mindful of your posture when nursing your new addition to your family. Get a good night’s rest and asked for help from your significant other. Remember that nursing mother’s neck, in most cases, can be corrected and it can also affect your significant other when they are nursing (bottle feeding) the baby too. – Dr. Lawrence Bagnell, DC, April 14, 2016
Dr. Lawrence Bagnell has had great success in helping mothers with this condition.