Breast-feeding can feel awkward at first so don’t stress if it takes a few attempts for your baby to latch and for you to find a comfortable holding position. There are a few props you can use while breast-feeding which can help to maintain a better posture whilst feeding your baby
- A chair with arms (if using one of the sitting positions).
- Cushions/pillows/folded towels.
There are a few different holds that you can try, no one particular hold is better than the other it is a matter of trying different positions until you find the most comfortable one for you and your baby.
If you are adopting a seated position for feeding it is important to remember to
- Sit back against the backrest of the chair.
- A chair with arms will help you to support the arm that is cradling your baby.
- Placing a pillow on your lap can help to prop your baby up so that you don’t have to hold all of their weight; your growing baby will quickly weigh a few kilos.
Without proper support for the back and arms it is difficult not to slouch whilst feeding; slouching can lead to neck and upper back pain. Also you need to remember that your breast will be bigger and heavier due to your milk production and you will be carrying the weight of your baby in your arms, without proper support tightness and pain in the shoulders and upper back is common.
Here are some of the more common breast-feeding postures:
The football hold. This can be a useful position if you’re recovering from a c-section or you have large breasts. Hold your baby in one arm with your elbow bent. Support your baby’s head with an open hand and face baby towards your breast. With your other hand you can support your breast in a c-shape. Bring your baby close to your breast to allow them to latch rather than leaning towards them. Ensure your baby is facing the nipple, they shouldn’t have to turn their head. Placing a pillow on your knee and using a chair with arms will improve comfort. Sit with your back against the backrest of the chair.
The cross-cradle hold. Position your baby across the front of your body, tummy to tummy. Hold your baby in the arm opposite the breast you’re feeding from ie.left arm for right breast. Support the baby’s head with an open hand and face baby towards your breast. With your other hand you can support your breast in a c-shape. Sit with your back against the backrest of the chair, do not bend over or lean forward, hold your baby close to your breast.
The side-lying position. A useful position if you have had a c-section and when you are very tired. Lie on your side and face your baby toward your breast, support the baby’s head with an open hand. With the other hand, grasp your breast and touch your nipple to your baby’s lips. Use one arm to support your own head and the other to help support your baby. You can place a pillow behind your back to help support your back
Whatever breast-feeding position you choose, it helps to hold your baby close to you with their back and head in a straight line. Try to line up your baby’s nose so that it’s level with your nipple, this will minimise the backward tilting of the head when your baby latches on.
Whilst you are still breast-feeding if you are experiencing neck, shoulder and upper back stiffness and pain it is advisable to have an osteopathic assessment to help you to avoid any chronic postural dysfunctions from developing and to provide advice on ways you can help to relieve this stiffness on a day to day basis in your own home.
The Osteopathic Centre Pte Ltd
Paul Bell, Osteopath.