If you’ve just had a new baby, you know how challenging that can be on your body. In addition to lack of sleep, hormonal changes and adjusting to life as a new parent you may also experience neck or upper back pain from breastfeeding. However, “nursing neck” as it is often referred to is not just limited to breastfeeding mothers. Incorrect posture during bottle feeding can also cause neck pain for new moms as well as moms who are sitting to pump.
Can Breastfeeding Cause Neck Pain?
Yes, breastfeeding can cause neck pain and is a common cause of neck, upper back and shoulder pain in new moms. The repeated posture and motion of breastfeeding can cause strain on your neck. Often called “nursing mother’s neck”, this type of strain on your neck can cause pain, burning, numbness or tingling. It can also sometimes cause headaches in addition to the other symptoms.
The flexed forward motion of the neck while in the breastfeeding position causes strain and inflammation on the muscles and ligaments in the neck and upper back.
How to Relieve Neck Pain from Breastfeeding?
There are several things we recommend to avoid neck pain while breastfeeding:
- Try to sit in a reclining position while nursing or feeding the baby. By allowing your head, neck and shoulders to relax against something you will avoid additional strain.
- Another tip we recommend is placing a heating pad or warm towel across your shoulder and neck to help relax and loosen the muscles.
- A nursing pillow is also a great way to help support the weight of the baby while breastfeeding or bottle feeding. It can help relieve some of the weight causing strain on the upper back, neck and shoulders.
- One of the most important things breastfeeding mothers can do to help relieve neck pain is to implement stretches. Stretches help to keep the muscles release tension and relaxed. We recommend all new parents implement stretches like the one shown below to prevent headaches, stiffness and soreness by stretching the neck muscles throughout the day!
Stretches for Breastfeeding Neck Pain
How to do the neck stretch:
- With your shoulder down and back, tilt your head down in front of you and to the side towards your shoulder
- On that same side that your head is tilted, place your fingers at the top of your collar bone
- As you raise your head, tilt it backwards in the opposite direction while holding down the muscles that attach at your collar bone (you should feel a good pull)
- Repeat the stretch about 10 times on each side
Not only is stretching the neck great for stretching and mobilizing the muscles but it is key in preventing strains in the future. By implementing neck stretches during your breastfeeding session, to can help prevent pain from the start!
How Chiropractic Care Can Help Relieve Neck Pain from Breastfeeding
Whether you’re a new mom who is breastfeeding, bottle feeding, pumping or just adjusting to life as a new mom (or dad) there are ways chiropractic care can help.
Rehabilitative Exercises for Postpartum Moms
Rehabilitative exercises that can help stretch and strengthen the muscles in the neck, shoulders and back. It can also help you avoid injury. During pregnancy and postpartum the hormone, Relaxin, is increased to help relax and loosen your joints, muscles and tendons. Even though this hormone is specifically designed to help with pregnancy and giving birth, it can also potentially lead to more injury.
By working with a chiropractor who specializes in postpartum care, they can prescribe a series of individualized exercises that will properly help strengthen the muscles and prevent injury. It can potentially take up to 12 months for your body to go back to pre-pregnancy levels after giving birth and is more common in women who are breastfeeding.
More Chiropractic Treatments for Breastfeeding Neck Pain
Other chiropractic treatments such as manual adjustments, soft tissue work and dry needling can also be very beneficial.
Manual adjustments can help realign and ensure the neck and shoulders are in proper alignment. The repeated motion and strain of feeding a baby can often times cause the neck to become misaligned. Misalignment can cause pain and weakness and make it difficult to find a comfortable position.
Soft tissue work, such as scraping, can help reduce muscle pain and inflammation. It works by using a metal tool to break up scar tissue and ensure that blood and oxygen flow is restored to the muscles.
Dry needling is also another great form of treatment for neck and upper back pain because it works to relieve trigger points or knots that form in the body due to stress, injury, and tension.
Chiropractic Care for New Moms
It is important to find a chiropractor who is trained to work with postpartum moms. The body is still going through a ton of hormonal and structural changes and it continue to heal and working with a chiropractor can help ensure the easiest and most efficient recovery. Chiropractic care offers a safe, natural and holistic form of care if you are experiencing neck pain from breastfeeding,
Get Treated at Kaizo Health
Our goal at Kaizo Health is to always get you back to feeling 100%. Our doctors provide treatment to help you be pain-free. We also have a dedicated team that will work with you and your insurance. We want to make sure you get the most from your benefits. You should experience relief for as little cost to you as possible. If you are ready to experience relief from the pain, make an appointment to see us now.
Kaizo Health offers locations in Rockville, MD; Landover, MD; Fort Washington, MD; and Fairfax, VA. Our doctors an evidence-based approach by combining chiropractic care and individualized rehabilitative exercises. We provide the treatment and resources you need to recover your health. We are here to help! If you’d like more information, check out our blog. You can also take our free virtual self-assessment on app here.