It’s also hard work and as a new mom, we’re here to help as you navigate the ins and outs of mommy-hood. From choosing a comfortable chair to working with a lactation consultant to find the best breastfeeding positions, here are a few tips for taking care of your back health.
On airplanes, we’re told to put our own masks on before helping others put on theirs; the same is true with breastfeeding. To best support our babies, we have to support ourselves, first. That means setting ourselves up for success.
Pillows can help support your back while you breastfeed and we definitely encourage you to find a position that works for you. Many moms find that circumferential neck pillows (like you use to sleep on a flight) work well for babies that feed upright. If you prefer to breastfeed in bed, try a “husband pillow” to give added back padding and support.
You can even prop your baby on a pillow to get them closer to your breasts. Just remember to always let the baby come to the breast, and not your breasts to the baby. It makes a big difference on your back.
Take a seat
For moms who rarely feed from their beds, consider investing in a comfortable chair or other furniture. While it might sound counter-intuitive, deeply cushioned chairs aren’t always the best option for nursing. While comfy at first, you’ll sink into the cushions and that often leads to back pain. Instead, firm chairs that have you sitting in an upright position are better on the back.
The more upright you sit, the straighter your back will be, which means you won't need to prop your baby up. Pillows work wonders for that and nursing pillows are really great while your baby is small. As they grow, they can sit on your lap and reach your breasts more easily.
Find your rhythm
As you continue your breastfeeding and pumping journey, start to notice what works best for you and your baby. For example, maybe they feed better during certain hours of the day or night. Or, maybe there’s a breastfeeding position they gravitate toward.
While it’s so important to check in with your baby and make sure they are getting the milk they need, don’t abandon your own needs. Assess your stance. Are you slouching or sitting upright? Are you leaning forward or back? Does one position cause a lot of pain while others are more comfortable?
There’s always going to be a bit of a learning curve and that’s totally okay.
Pro tip: "You might also want to adjust your position as your baby grows and gets heavier. What works when they weigh 5 lbs will probably not work for you when they weigh 20 lbs or even 30 lbs." — Maria G.
Remember, if you’re struggling, there are people out there who are ready and willing to help. We did a whole post on the difference between lactation consultants and lactation counselors, as well as a mental health toolkit for new moms.
Make a move
We know that as a breastfeeding or pumping mom, you’re going to be sitting down for a large chunk of your day. That said, it’s always a good idea to get up and move around whenever you can. It’s important to take breaks in between feedings, not just for your body but for your mind, too! Get up and take a walk around the house or outside for a quick stretch.
A lot of exercise can be done right on your living room floor. According to Spine Universe, there are 7 really helpful stretches and exercises to aid in relieving back pain:
- Pelvic tilt
- Single knee to chest
- Double knee to chest
- Partial sit-up
- Hamstring stretch
- Hip flexor stretch
Pro tip: "Keeping your core strong will also help relieve the stress on your back muscles. They never tell you that having a baby will literally mean heavy lifting, so you need to make sure you don't hurt yourself in the process." — Maria G.
Hydrate and replenish your body
Remember to hydrate, mamma! We recently partnered up with Ready, Set, Food and they outlined all the ways diet can affect breast milk production. In addition to staying hydrated, try to recoup the 400-500 calories it takes to breastfeed daily. Here are some nutrition tips and meal ideas from a Lilu Mom.