Hi there, Dr Tarn (chiropractor) here! I own and practice at Tui Chiropractic in Whangarei but I am also a mum of 2.5 year old twins! I wanted to share some information that I found quite helpful when I was a new mum. I remember those early days (well, sort of remember, there was a lot of sleep deprivation!) and the aches and pains that went with being early post-partum and breastfeeding.
It’s really important to focus on your own posture and positioning while breastfeeding, especially if you are sitting and feeding for long periods.
Here are a few tips that you may have heard before, but a reminder is always helpful!
- Bring your baby to your breast, (rather than slouching to reach baby). This will help prevent hunching over and upper back and shoulder pain.
- Relax your shoulders down and relax any muscle tension in your arms.
- Use a small pillow in the small of your back to help support your lumbar spine. This will be especially helpful for those who have lost a lot of core strength.
- Use a footrest. Don’t underestimate how much difference a footrest will make!
- Use pillows to prop your baby up if they are small, or to prop up under your arms to keep the muscles relaxed.
Depending how long ago you’ve given birth, you may want to think about starting to strengthen up your core muscles. Lack of core strength is a massive issue which may extend months and years post pregnancy.
The exercise targets the transverse abdominis (TA) which is a deep core muscle that provides a lot of stability and protection for the spine and pelvis.
This is a quick, easy and safe exercise. It's a great starting point for core recovery. For our c-section mums, please wait for at least 6 weeks post-birth and only try this if you’re healing well.
- Begin on your back in a neutral position. Place your hands on your hips with your fingers just inside your hip bones.
- Gently contract your abdominal muscles. You should be able to feel your muscles contracting under your fingers. If you can't feel this contraction, you may need to poke in a little with your fingers and try to brace against the pressure.
- Hold the contraction as you breathe in and out, feeling with your fingers to ensure those muscles are still engaged.
- Hold for 3-5 breaths or longer if you're able.
- Rest then repeat.
If you’re in the depths of sleep deprivation, navigating breastfeeding and all that comes with a new baby, don’t put pressure on yourself to add something else into your day. Revisit this exercise in a month or so.
Finding the time to shower with a new baby is tricky, let alone get out and exercise! Because time is precious, but we need to take care of our bodies so we can be there for our babies, we’ve developed a stretch sheet with four great stretches. It’s designed to be quick but effective and targets the main muscle groups that may be causing pain and stiffness in your body. The stretch sheet is free to download here.
We’ve also created a group on Facebook just for mums, called the Well Mum’s Hub. There is lots of information in the group about different aspects of staying well while looking after a family, and we’re always adding to it. Check it out here and join us in the Well Mum’s Hub.