Forward leaning when feeding your baby is literally a pain in the neck. In some ways aches and pains are inevitable as a new mum, but being mindful of your posture will go some way to avoiding the worst of it, and more importantly, ensure that you’re not entrenching pain into your body for the long term.
Anya with newborn Maurice
When you’re feeding, particularly when breastfeeding but also relevant if you’re bottle feeding: bring your baby up to you rather than hunching forward for your boob to reach your baby’s mouth. Prop baby or your elbow up with enough pillows and cushions, maybe have a couple of pillows on your lap underneath baby to support his body closer to your own without strain.
Always remember to bring baby to boob, rather than lower your boob to baby. Notice what kind of position you adopt when you’re feeding. Often we’re crouched and distorted, balancing on our toes with a crook neck, to ensure that our baby is happy and comfortable – mother yourself a bit. Bolster your back and arm with pillows, make sure you have a footrest if you need it. You’ll avoid longer term neck, lower back and foot issues by taking a moment to consider your own comfort.
Neck stretch and release
After each feed, make sure you do the following:
Take a long deep breath in and sigh the breath out through your lips, as if you’re fogging a window in front of you.
Relax the jaw and features of your face. Lengthen the crown of your head towards the ceiling.
Sitting upright, nod your right ear down to your right shoulder, looking forward.
Then, slowly and gently turn your neck to look down towards your right shoulder. Allow your left shoulder to release away and feel the stretch.
Return slowly to centre, then repeat to the left.
Return slowly to centre, then look up, opening the throat. Then slowly look down, nodding your chin to your chest.
Your wrists and arms are put under so much strain when you have a newborn with lots of regular activities suddenly introduced into your habitual movement: nappy changing, picking up and handling your baby, putting your baby to the boob, pushing a buggy. Often this causes real tension issues and it might be worth investing in a wrist support rather than ignoring it and hoping it gets better. Always make sure you stretch your wrists and forearms as follows:
Sitting upright, relax your shoulders and neck.
With bent elbows, bring your hands together at your chest in prayer position.
Then bring the backs of the hands together, fingers pointing down.
Release one arm down, and with long fingers, circle the lifted hand all the way around 5 times, in both directions.
Change arms and repeat. Stay soft and lifted through the torso, relaxing the shoulders.
More exercises and stretching tips can be found in Pilates for Pregnancy, available now! If you’ve got any questions about pregnancy or postnatal strength, healing and recovery, get in touch! xxx