No matter if you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, posture is something everyone should be mindful of. This raises the question, what are the best feeding positions?
To find a position that your little munchkin enjoys and fits best in your priority is not that tough, so let's talk about it.
A lot of new moms experience lower back, upper back, neck, and wrist pain, along with tightness in muscles. There could be many reasons for that, including:
Incorrect feeding posture
Incorrect baby carrying techniques
Incorrect car seat carrying
Pre-existing muscle imbalances in arms, shoulders and upper back
Weakness of pelvic floor muscles
Pregnancy and delivery have a huge impact on the body and by this, I am talking about alignment, structural and biomechanical changes that can really impact daily movement and function. These are further compounded by the additional stresses of feeding and carrying the baby.
Calculate how many hours you log a month with baby feeding? For some people, it's almost like being in the same desk job with poor posture for 2 years and you don’t want to come out of that job with humpback and a lot of pain.
Breast Feeding positions:
In an ideal world, the best feeding position will involve sitting in a straight back chair with armrest, sitting up nice and tall with your shoulders down, eyes forwards (not looking at your little munchkin), knees bent and feet on the ground, make sure baby’s head is aligned with rest of its body.
Wowww, that’s lot of instructions and not always possible for everyone especially in middle of the night when you wake up to feed.
How to minimize strain on your body during feeding
On a feeding chair :
Prop a pillow under your elbow and forearm to help support your baby’s head
If your feeding chair reclines, limit the amount of time spent in the reclined position. Prolonged periods in a reclined position cause your pelvis to tilt posteriorly (backward) which can lead to lower back pain.
On the couch:
It's comfortable and convenient to sometimes be on the couch. Couches come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of firmness. Let's talk about a few tips to minimize the risk of lower back pain .
Prop yourself up with pillows. Rest your baby on a large, firm pillow to support them and minimize how much support you need to give them.
If you are in for a long-haul feed and want to watch television while you’re on duty, try and position yourself front on to the TV so that you are not turning your head and neck (this will strain your neck and can lead to pain and at times headaches).
In the middle of the night:
You want the convenience to feed in bed, definitely, that’s not ideal to do it for every feed but its ok to do it when you want that convenience and comfort of not getting out of the bed.
Try to avoid sitting with both legs out straight. That can lead to lower back pain, leg pain, and tightness.
Try sitting with one leg bent and one out straight and keep swapping legs every so often
Change positions (or legs) whenever your baby takes a break to burp
Try laying on your side (with a pillow supporting your neck) with your baby lying next to you.
Don't forget that you can still move a bit during feeding sessions. Gently move your neck up and down, or slowly from side to side and keep repositioning your arms and legs during feeding sessions. Remember, Motion is Lotion!
Doing a few stretches after feedings will help open up your body from that curled and compressed position.
- Roll your shoulders forwards and backwards
- Bring your arms overhead and stretch your upper back and shoulders. Stretch out your pecs
- Bend your trunk side to side.
- Then do a few rotations or twists through your spine.
- Remember to breathe fully to expand your rib cage several times as well.
It will literally take you one or two minutes to do all these stretches. Putting in the time after each nursing session will help to counteract that force of gravity and it really does make a difference. If you’ve got a bit more time on your hands then stretch, out your lower body as well, especially the hip flexors and do some pelvic tilts.
At Harmony Physiotherapy we coordinate all patient care with your obstetrician, midwife, physician, and other health care professionals. Harmony Physiotherapy will help you reduce any pain/discomfort and increase your strength during the post-partum period, assisting you in your recovery. Book an appointment with our Harmony Pelvic Physiotherapy Experts, no matter how many weeks or months postpartum you are. We can help get you back on your path of recovery!