Breastfeeding is so foreign before you experience it, so you don’t know what all to expect: both joys and pains. And while there is plenty out there about what to do if you experience nipple cracking or engorgement, there is less information about what to do if you experience back pain while breastfeeding. That’s why Chirp is here. We will tell you everything you need to know to help fix your back pain because that’s our job.
What causes back pain while breastfeeding?
You might have leftover back pain from pregnancy.
Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy. Possibly the biggest change is that you have a huge belly, which throws your center of balance off and changes the way you hold yourself up. After having the baby, it’s possible you will experience back pain from transitioning back to having your body back (except for your breasts).
You aren’t breastfeeding in a comfortable position.
While you do need to focus on getting your baby in the right position, arguably more important is getting yourself in a position that supports your back and neck (details on how to do this in the next section).
You aren’t used to holding a baby.
After a lifetime (if you’re a first-time mom) of not holding a baby for 12 hours a day, transitioning to lifting, holding, and snuggling your new baby might cause some unwanted back pain.
How to prevent and reduce back pain from breastfeeding
Use a support pillow.
The number one recommendation for most moms experiencing back pain while breastfeeding is to use a support pillow. A wrap around pillow or regular pillow can help hold the baby close to your breasts so you don’t have to hold the baby up yourself, saving you from lower back and upper back muscle strain. Bringing the baby to your breast rather than bringing your breast to the baby will help you avoid back pain.
Make sure you have lumbar support.
Whether you use a lumbar support pillow for your lower back or recline your chair 20 to 30 degrees back, make sure you have lumbar support. This can dramatically reduce back pain because you’re helping your back maintain correct posture.
Breastfeed in the right position for you.
Make sure that you are comfortable and the baby’s comfort will follow. Try sitting criss cross applesauce or reclining in a rocker. Maybe walking while feeding is what works for you. You can also try changing positions in the middle of a feeding. Get creative because your comfort is just as important as the baby’s.
Lift your baby safely.
When lifting your baby, make sure to bend your knees and lift correctly. Lift with a straight back and bend at your knees and hips not your back. When holding your baby, switch arms periodically or use a child carrier if you want to be close.
Try not to strain your neck.
Looking down at your baby while breastfeeding is one of the best moments of being a mom. But sometimes looking down for too long causes neck pain, which leads to more back pain. The best way to avoid neck pain during this time is to sit in a reclined position so you don’t have to strain your neck to look down. You can also use various types of pillows, like a traveling pillow, to support your neck as you look down at your baby. The key to avoiding neck pain while breastfeeding is not to strain your neck for too long. Of course, another option is to try not to look down at all, but looking at your baby is sometimes worth the pain.
Try to maintain good posture.
Overall, the best thing you can do for your back is to maintain good posture. Whether you decide to breastfeed sitting, standing, or lying down, keep your spine straight. Avoid crossing your legs or looking down for too long. Use helper pillows to obtain a straight spine. These things should help to reduce your back pain dramatically.
How to recover from back pain after breastfeeding
Sometimes you can’t do much to escape back pain no matter how hard you try. So here are a few ideas to recover from a sore back after breastfeeding.
Roll on the Chirp Wheel+.
Using pain relief tools like the Chirp Wheel+ can help reduce the back pain you’ve accumulated from hours of feeding your baby. The Chirp Wheel+ has many benefits that can help get rid of back pain. The wheel helps elongate your spine, reverse damage from poor posture, give your back that pop it’s been needing, and massage and loosen up your tight muscles. Roll out in between feedings or at the end of the day.
There are countless stretches you can do to recover from back pain: pelvic tilt, knee to chest, hamstring stretch, hip flexor stretch, and more. There are even more stretches you can do with the Chirp Wheel+ to help recover from back pain. Check out these other blog posts on how to stretch to relieve back pain: “8 Stretches Using the Chirp Wheel+ to Relieve Lower Back Pain” and “How to Use the Chirp Wheel PLUS Bonus Stretches.”
Exercise in between feedings.
Getting your blood flowing will not only help with your back pain, but it will keep you healthy and happy. One of the main reasons it is important to exercise in between feedings is so that you don’t just sit in one position all day. Even if you decide to go for a walk or just do the dishes, getting off your seat and moving will loosen up your muscles and help you recover from sitting in one position for too long. If you want more intense exercises to do rather than walking, check out this blog post.
Get enough sleep.
You may have just read that sentence and thought I was joking because with a new baby how are you supposed to get any sleep? I’ll just say what you’ve probably heard many times: sleep when your baby sleeps. Getting enough sleep is important especially with back pain because it is one way your body starts to heal itself. Try to do all you can to continue to take care of yourself as you tackle taking care of a newborn.
Drink a lot of water.
Breastfeeding takes most of the water your body has. So drinking a lot of water is key not only when breastfeeding, but when breastfeeding with back pain. Staying hydrated can help your back heal faster and will keep your spinal discs plump, reducing the amount of back pain you have. Ask your doctor how much water you should be drinking while breastfeeding so you can stay hydrated for the baby and for yourself.
Anderson, L. (2017, November 15). How to Nurse a Baby Without Back and Neck Pain. Retrieved from https://offspring.lifehacker.com/how-to-nurse-a-baby-without-back-and-neck-pain-1820445452
Clarke, D. (2015, September 17). 12 Tips to Help Reduce Back Pain While Breastfeeding a Newborn! Retrieved from https://breastfeedingbabycomfortably.com/breastfeeding-support/12-tips-to-help-reduce-back-pain-while-breastfeeding-a-newborn/
Khan, A. (2020, January 28). Back Pain during Breastfeeding: Causes & Tips to Relieve Pain. Retrieved from https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/back-pain-while-breastfeeding-causes-and-tips-to-relief/
Rehan, K., & Ammerman, J. M. (2020). Easing Back and Neck Pain While Breastfeeding. Retrieved from https://www.spineuniverse.com/wellness/exercise/easing-back-neck-pain-while-breastfeeding