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Back Pain From Breastfeeding Can Really Throw You For A Loop — Here's What You Can Do

by Mishal Ali Zafar
Originally Published: 

For moms who breastfeed, the commitment struggles are real. Sure, it’s super beneficial for you and your baby’s health, but if you aren’t careful, it can do a number on your back. Whether you are a first-time mom or an experienced one, breastfeeding can bring up questions and situations that you would not have expected. Nipple and breast pain are commonly associated with nursing, but breastfeeding back pain is common, too, and one of those things no one mentions.

At some point, every mom will face some strain when breastfeeding, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Mina Rorcharshky tells Romper — especially when they aren’t nursing in an optimal position. But she says that when you implement the right support measures and keep your spine neutral, it shouldn’t be an everyday issue.

I breastfed both of my babies for two years each, and it wasn’t until a few months into nursing my first that I realized how badly it was affecting my back. I have bad posture to begin with, and my style of nursing wasn’t helping at all. With some time and experience, I found that implementing proper nursing positions really helped ease my back pain, and after that it was smooth sailing.

If you are suffering from pain of any kind when you’re nursing, talk to a lactation consultant. They know everything about breastfeeding and more, and they can definitely help make your breastfeeding journey easier. I wish someone warned me about my back when I started nursing, so here are a few things I learned that you should make note of right now.


You Literally Need Support

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You might have a tendency to lean forward and hunch when you breastfeed, but that could be causing strain in your back. Posture is key when it comes to nursing with back pain, so it’s important to be mindful of your position. When you're in a slouched position, it puts stress on your back muscles and spine, We Have Kids explained, and can cause considerable back pain. This is why it’s important to keep your back well supported when nursing in a seated position.

And honestly, when you’re nursing, an old rickety chair won’t cut it. To keep your back in check, sit in a comfy chair, preferably with armrests for support. Try to find a chair with a tall back so that you can sit up straight with your shoulders back and your lower back supported against the chair, Rorcharshky says.


It’s Easier To Lie Down To Nurse

For me, the laid back position for nursing was a holy grail in relieving my back pain. I stumbled upon it out of sheer exhaustion as I plopped on to the bed with my baby nursing on top of me. I feel that the side-lying and laid back positions are super underrated, and more breastfeeding moms should take advantage of them.

As La Leche League explained on their website, when you lay back or recline to nurse, you relax your neck and back muscles, making your body less rigid and tense. Because your baby is working against gravity in this position, the organization noted that it could be helpful in maintaining a good flow of milk. So if you have back pain, lay back, relax, and give the laid-back position a try.


Lap Pillows Are A Thing

When you are sitting up to nurse, you may find yourself bending over to feed, which could really do a number on your back. Try propping your baby up to your breast level, suggested Breastfeeding Baby Comfortably, with supportive pillows on your lap. This way you don’t have to lean forward to nurse and you can keep your back straight against the back of your chair. For support, you can choose from a traditional Boppy Nursing Pillow ($40, Amazon), a My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow ($35, Amazon), or a more advanced one like this Leachco Natural Boost Adjustable Nursing Pillow ($30, Amazon).


Drinking Water Will Help

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With all the chaos of being a mom, you might forget to drink enough water. You’re losing fluids when you nurse, so it’s important to replenish and stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to back pain, according to The Joint, and it can even thin out the discs that cushion the vertebrae in your spine. Staying hydrated can really help ease your back pain, so drink water whenever you can. And if you don't like the taste, you can infuse it with lemon or other fruits to make it more palatable.


Keep It Moving

The weight and hormone fluctuations from pregnancy to breastfeeding can really add to your back pain. Breastfeeding Baby Comfortably explained that it’s important to keep your body strong and healthy by strengthening and stretching out your back muscles with some light exercise. You may not have time to exercise, but even taking a five-minute stroll in between feeding sessions can help. The website also recommended switching up positions when you nurse, because the same repetitive positioning can strain your back muscles.


Mina Rorcharshky, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)

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