The posture from breastfeeding can cause discomfort in the shoulders and neck. Use these stretches for breastfeeding to help relieve back pain. These breastfeeding stretches are low-impact and will help open up the chest and reduce pain in the back, neck, and shoulders.
What Causes Back Pain While Breastfeeding?
Neck and shoulder pain while breastfeeding is common. This is because new moms spend so much time in a hunched over the position from:
- Laying on the couch
All of the above creates tension in the upper back as it rounds forward. Likewise, new moms are often exhausted and not up to making use of the “best positions” each day.
Want to skip to the stretches? JUMP here.
Can Your Back Hurt While Breastfeeding?
So, both your upper and low back can hurt from/during breastfeeding. Similarly, they’re interconnected.
Both areas of your back can (and will) hurt from poor posture and the everyday demands of a new baby. Breastfeeding especially will cause a lot of tension.
Likewise, once your upper back begins to hurt and round forward from the demands, it causes tension in the low back.
Furthermore, another cause of low back pain comes from carrying your baby with a tucked under bum (posterior pelvic tilt). Instead of using the muscles, we should be using to carry a baby, most moms compensate by leaning back, tucking the bum under, and “balancing” the baby.
What Helps Back Pain While Breastfeeding?
In order to help alleviate back, neck, and shoulder pain while breastfeeding, you need to take a multi-faceted approach.
A combination of strengthening the upper back and posterior chain muscles. The muscles of the posterior chain are essentially your “posture” muscles. They target the back of the body.
Thus, keeping them strong is one aspect of alleviating back pain.
Some of the best exercises to include are:
- Neutral rows
- Face pull
- High row
- Rear delt fly
Check out this YouTube workout video to give you an idea of how to target the upper body muscles postpartum.
Along with strengthening, stretching the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and back (see the best stretches for breastfeeding below!) will help as well.
However, there is such thing as the power of repetition. Meaning, given new moms, spends most of their time feeding or carrying, you need to consistent in your efforts to alleviate discomfort.
Furthermore, know that it takes day-to-day work to help manage the symptoms and that there is no “perfect” fix given that the amount of time holding, and feeding will always outweigh the time stretching.
Stretches For Breastfeeding Back Pain
Below are the best stretches to ease back and neck pain from breastfeeding!
All of the stretches are:
- Low impact
- Safe for new moms
- Require equipment you have around the house (chair, wall, etc)
When it comes to stretching, make sure you warm up your muscles slightly (if you plan on deep stretching). Even a few arm circles will help.
You want to hold the stretches for 60-90s each making sure to breathe throughout the movement.
Lastly, keep the focus on keeping your ribcage tucked down and not flared. This makes it so you gain movement through the upper back and shoulders versus the low back. This is crucial for both alleviating back and neck pain but also starting the process of healing diastasis recti.
- Puppy dog stretch
- Thread the needle
- Crescent child’s pose
- Weighted pullover
- Thoracic openers
- Elevated triceps stretch.
- Assisted neck stretch.
- Sideways reach
- Assisted lat stretch.
- Eagle arm stretch.
Don’t forget to pin these stretches for breastfeeding back and neck pain!
Puppy Dog Stretch: think of bringing your belly button up and holding a neutral to posterior pelvic tilt. This ensures you stretch in the underarms and not the low back.
Thread The Needle: use the floor as resistance to twist from the upper back while keeping the hips squared so that the low back is not twisting.
Crescent Childs Post: this stretch is also great for relaxing the pelvic floor. The goal is to get breath into the side body and ribs.
Weighted Pullover: keeping the knees bent makes this easier. Really focus on engaging the internal core muscles. Use a yoga block as “weight” to start and slowly scale up. Also, REALLY ensure the rib cage stays down. If it comes up, you’ve gone too far.
Thoracic Openers: mobility drill that helps get movement in the shoulders and upper back. Make sure the knees stay stacked and hips face forward to ensure movement in the upper and not lower back.
Elevated Triceps Stretch: open up the underarms to get the upper back into extension. Make sure the belly is pulled to the spine so there’s no arch in the lower back.
Assisted Neck Stretch: use your own strength the stretch out your neck. Remember to work WITH your breath and move gently.
Sideways Reach: keep the chest open and breathe air into the ribs. Likewise, if it hurts to look up, keep the neck in a neutral or downward position.
Assisted Lat Stretch: use this position to move to what feels good. Sink your body back but don’t feel you need to stay in one spot. Shift weight to experiment with where you feel the best stretch.
Eagle Arms: can be done statically (not moving) or as a dynamic stretch where you move the arms up and down,
These breastfeeding stretches are meant to reduce back, neck, and shoulder pain caused by the everyday posture of a new mom.
The stretches are light, low-impact, and effective. Likewise, in conjunction with strengthening the upper back can help alleviate tension for breastfeeding moms!