Fitness and Feeding? Phew!
You have had your baby and whilst you are now grappling with the day to day challenges and steep learning curve around parenthood, at least you can say a fond farewell (more like thank god for that!) to back pain….or can you?
I know when I was breastfeeding and bottle feeding my children that I would contort myself into goodness knows what position and my carefully planned out supportive pillows got literally throw out and instead I bent myself every which way to make sure they had a decent feed. Cue hunched forward posture, neck, back and shoulder ache!
Whilst there are pillows and support that are designed to help you support your baby whilst they feed, did you know that exercise can play a huge part in reducing back pain associated with feeding your newborn?
As well as the aches and pains you may be feeling as a result of carrying your little person around from dusk until dawn?
Want some help or advice about how to help a sore back, chest tightness and other aches and pains?
Read on for some practical tips of what can help with this common postnatal problems!
Top Tip 1
Try to incorporate a stretch into your daily routine. Focus on the neck, upper back and shoulders. Here a few suggestions to get you started.
Neck tilts and rotations
Perform movements slow and controlled – McCall Minnor writes via Aaptiv, also providing a great walkthrough for neck stretches :
“looking straight ahead with your shoulders relaxed and arms at your sides. Now, tilt your chin down so that you’re looking at the bottom of your shirt. Hold your gaze for ten to 20 seconds, and then tilt your head back to look at the ceiling. Switching between the two will stretch and contract your levator scapulae (more muscles between your neck and back).” (1)
Arm hugging stretch
Reach your arms out as if you are hugging someone to the front of you, then gently retract your arms back (keeping a soft bend in the elbow) with palms facing forward. Remember, keep this move slow and fluid, not a ballistic mad swinging of the arms back and forth.
Four your shoulders and chest try this stretch with a walkthrough written by Jessica Connor C.PT via https://www.openfit.com/best-shoulder-stretches
“This shoulder stretch also opens the chest, helping ease the tension built up from hours spent hunched over.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and interlace your fingers behind you
- Roll your shoulders back and lift your chest up as you pull your hands back and down.
- Hold for time. You should feel the stretch in both your chest and shoulders.” (2)
Key Point Mummys!
Only work within a comfortable range of movement when you stretch as you still have relaxin in your bodies (the hormone that helps relax joints and muscles to prepare your body for labour and delivery) and whilst it does what it says on the tin, this “relaxing” can mean your ligaments are looser and therefore prone to damage if overstretched!
Top Tip 2
Be mindful of posture – Self-correct!
When you are going about your normal day to day remember posture! I have big tendency to stoop my shoulders forward and throughout the day try and pep talk myself as follows:
“Shoulders back, open chest and engaged core”
Sometimes taking a moment to think about your posture is all it takes to prompt an instant reaction.
One way to incorporate this, once your baby is either latched on or feeding comfortably on the bottle, take a moment and slowly and intermittently tilt your gaze upwards during feeds
Top tip 3
Strengthen your core
Nope, I don’t mean sit-ups!
Graeme Keys writes for Spine Universe:
“Since your abs are the front anchor of your spine if they are weak, then the other structures supporting your spine (your back muscles, for example) will have to work harder. By developing stronger core muscles, you’ll be less likely to injure or strain your back muscles.” (3)
My number one go to for a mew mummy? The static abdominal contraction. Can be performed sitting, in a four-point kneel or standing:
Imagine a thread joining your belly button internally to your spine. Taking a long breath out, slowly draw your belly button in as if the thread is pulling it back to your spine. Feel the tension in your core and try not to lean forward. Maintain a neutral spine throughout.
Have a try and let us know how you get on and any questions, just post a comment or get in touch!
Please remember to consult with your health professional before undertaking any advice with regards to exercising during and after pregnancy as everyone is different and exercise and stretches may need to be adapted to your needs.