How to Avoid Nursing Neck While Breastfeeding
Neck pain is very common among breastfeeding mommies. During the first few months, these aches can pass after a few minutes. However, the longer you make the mistakes that cause neck pain, the easier it is to crop up. Eventually, when “nursing neck” becomes a part of each breastfeeding session, it can be pretty stressful and discouraging.
Luckily, there are so many simple ways to keep your neck pain free as you breastfeed for months and years! So, do you suffer from neck pain while feeding your baby? Here are some tips tip help:
Bring baby to breast NOT breast to baby.
This is a fundamental rule when it comes to avoiding “nursing neck.” When we breastfeed, we tend to crouch down or adjust our posture so our breasts can reach our baby's mouths. This causes severe neck and shoulder pain in the long run.
In this case, it would be much easier to sit up straight. Though that seems counterintuitive, good posture never leads to body pain. When nursing upright, let your arms--not your neck, shoulders and back--do the work.
This is where breastfeeding pillows come in.
Use pillows to support your arms.
Pillows offer so much comfort and support for breastfeeding moms. It's no wonder specialized pillows for nursing have cropped up everywhere. However, any basic pillow can support your arms and help you avoid neck pain while breastfeeding.
When we are sitting down while our little ones are on the boob, we tend to slouch because our arms get so tired. As we mentioned before, good posture matters most. So, to aid your arms, simply place them on a pillow or two. Rearrange and fluff up your pillows to make sure you settle into a comfy position.
Keep wrists in neutral position.
Your wrists also affect how much stress is put onto your neck. Isn't that pretty crazy? The body is a network of interconnected muscles and nerves after all. So, a tense wrist leads to tension in the neck, too.
When breastfeeding, be mindful of whether your wrists are doing too much work or exerting too much effort.
Relax your shoulders.
Another body part directly (and more obviously) connected to the neck are the shoulders. Hunching over to kiss our babies is okay. But getting comfy in that position will leave us aching soon enough.
Why not practice some breathing exercises? These will help you relax your shoulders. It also helps you pay attention to which parts of your body are uncomfortable and need adjustments.
Whichever part of your body is holding tension while nursing should ease up.
Move your neck around.
Moving the neck often, gently and slowly, can do wonders to avoid "nursing neck."
You can do a few sidewards, forwards and backwards neck bends while breastfeeding. You can count from 1 to 8 for each position, repeating until you feel some relief.
Rotating the neck clockwise and counterclockwise also releases any strain and keeps the neck muscles strong and supple.
There are some specific neck and upper body stretches that you can do throughout the day. Again, this is all about letting go of that tension and discomfort from long nursing sessions.
Shoulder rolls, going backwards and forwards, are simple and easy yet highly effective for "nursing neck." You can also squeeze your shoulder blades together often to open up the chest and shoulders. Try the genie stretch, a highly recommended exercise for neck and upper shoulder tension.
Thanks to these tried and tested tips from mommies worldwide, we can avoid "nursing neck." Remember: Breastfeeding does not have to be painful! You deserve a breastfeeding journey that's filled with joy, lightness and love.