Neck, back and shoulder pain can be really common while breastfeeding, especially during growth spurts when babies can nurse for what seems like forever.
There are a few things you can do to help to reduce the chances of aches and pains.
1) Make sure you are supported when you sit. You need make sure you are sitting on your sitz bones rather than your sacrum. To help with this it may be easier to bolster with a pillow or rolled up towel underneath your buttocks so your pelvis is tilted into a neutral position. Bring your baby up to you rather than lean down to them, if your arms get tired then use cushions to rest your baby on at the right height to avoid you having to bend down. (see photo)
(Taken by my 9 year old who was desperate to get back to playing Roblox so not the best photos in the world)
On the left you can see my back is rounded as I bend down – rounded back and sitting on my sacrum creates a lot of strain on my back – on the right I’ve used a cushion under my bum to tilt my pelvis forward so the weight is off my sacrum and my back can straighten, I’ve lifted my arms so my little one is off my lap – if I was nursing for a long period I’d use a cushion to put under him so my arms could rest)
2) Change position often, you can nurse lying down, standing up, in a sling, and change positions in a chair (sitting on it cross legged for example), or sit on the floor. (you can find a local sling library or sling consultant here or here to help with breastfeeding in a sling)
3) Make sure you are keeping well hydrated and eating nourishing food. It can be so easy to just grab crisps or biscuits but make sure you have something like mixed nuts, fruit etc instead.
4) Get out for a walk everyday. Slings can make getting out easier and the gentle rocking motion is really helpful to soothe your baby.
5) Make sure you are getting as much rest as possible – I know it’s easy to say, but if you can get some sleep while your baby naps throughout the day it can be really helpful. Making sure you have at least the first week after your baby is born as a time of rest – staying in bed if you can – can really help with your recovery after birth (in some cultures it is normal for a mother to have a period of rest where they stay in bed with their baby to rest and bond while others do cooking and cleaning and look after the other children – see if you can figure out a way of getting friends and family to help in the first few weeks)
6) If you are suffering a lot it may well be worth visiting an osteopath or chiropractor
7) Try these 5 exercises to help with neck, shoulder and back ache.