Just when you think you’ve heard everything there is to know about breastfeeding, you stumble into so many other oddities you never imagined. Once you begin the journey yourself, you quickly realize that while every mom’s challenges are different, there are still quite a few things most breastfeeding moms can relate to in one way or another. One of those topics include the things no one tells you about your back when you’re breastfeeding. Because honestly, of all the breastfeeding stories and woes you hear, back issues never seem to come up until you start experiencing them for yourself.
In my experience, there were a lot of little aspects surrounding breastfeeding that would’ve been nice to know ahead of time. Things like you’ll want good, sturdy support for your back when you’re sitting down to breastfeed, and no matter how much you use breastfeeding support products, like pillows, it's going to physically wear on you. Even when my breast milk was just letting down, I would feel a tingly, weird dropdown feeling all the way into my back. And most importantly, the best breast feeding positions might not be the most traditional, in terms of the effects on your back. For as little as it’s brought up, it’s surprising how fundamental your back is to comfortable breastfeeding, soreness prevention, and overall nursing positioning.
If you’re wondering what to expect or curious whether you’re experiencing some of the same back issues that many other breastfeeding moms are, here are a few items you probably haven’t heard a lot of talk about just yet.
1. You Have To Support Yourself, Not Just Your Baby
Undoubtedly, your baby has the proper support they need while nursing, but what about you? When you’re breastfeeding, especially if you’re on a bed or piece of furniture without comfortable backing, support is key for your comfortability and even milk flow. My favorite place to breastfeed in my own home or a guest’s home was generally on the bed, and I quickly learned that sitting up on my own without support behind me would really take a toll on my back, especially as my baby got heavier and heavier. Those ounces really add up. Additionally, it can pull your back and shoulders forward making your neck and shoulders sore, too. A simple way around this is to prop up a few pillows against the wall or headboard and to lean back. Or use a pillow or two against any other piece of furniture that doesn’t offer great support. If you really want to be prepared, however, you can also invest in a specific type of pillow, like this wedge pillow ($36, Amazon) which some moms swear by.
2. Don't Get Sucked In A Slouch-Warp
It’s so easy to get in the habit of slouching forward — much like you would while you’re on the computer or sitting and looking down. Stay conscious of keeping your shoulders back and your back straight. Medical Daily shared that poor posture and slouching can lead to spinal deformity, affect energy output, cause stress, cut off circulation, and create an out-of-shape effect. Take steps to practice sitting up straight when you are and aren't breastfeeding, and do some good-posture-promoting exercises (like yoga) in between nursing sessions to keep your back healthy.
3. To Protect Your Back, Try Breastfeeding ON Your Back (Or Side)
Many moms feel that they need to sit up to breastfeed and hold their baby in a cradle or football position, but the truth is that breastfeeding on your back is one of the most effective positions you can try. "Human neonates are born with an innate ability to find the breast, latch and feed" while mom is laying on her back and even immediately after birth, according to Biological Nursing. A newborn can actually work it's way up to his mom's breast to breastfeed at birth, which is amazing in and of itself. Additionally, breastfeeding babies in the laid-back position actually stimulates natural feeding reflexes in both mothers and babies, which is something that's super beneficial to know.
Alternatively, breastfeeding with both mama and baby on their side is a position that you will not only find less taxing on your body, but you might even find that your baby is so cozy, they fall right to sleep. And who doesn't want a snoozing baby, right?
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