Ergonomics for Moms: Breastfeeding Positions

Physical Therapist Dr. Gia Fruscione helps you overcome the awkward positions motherhood puts you in.

If you’re a first-time mother, you’re most likely unaware of the workout your body’s about to experience from a daily nursing routine. Breastfeeding can be a daunting task! It requires moms to commit to multiple hours a day, holding and supporting a baby, in more positions than you could have ever imagined. But similar to adding a new exercise to your daily routine, nursing can leave your neck, back, wrists and even fingers feeling sore. Here are a few items to consider to help prevent overuse injuries from poor posture and body positioning while breastfeeding:

Use Good Posture While Nursing: Bring baby to your breast, not your breast to baby. Hunching forward, especially for 20 minutes, 6-8 times or more per day can lead to stress and strain on your back, neck and shoulders. Don’t forget to make use of pillows or cushions to help position and hold your little one in place during feedings (more on this below).

Support your Arms and Baby at Once: Positioning and supporting your little one with pillows throughout the feeding will also help to avoid overuse of your arms and shoulders. Using breastfeeding pillows alone are usually not enough to keep your little one at the correct height for a feeding. Use regular bed pillows under the feeding pillow to help raise it and your baby to the height of your breast. This is true for any feedings, but especially for feedings where you are seated upright (i.e. cradle or football holds).

Be Cautious of YOUR Positioning: Be conscious of your position throughout the feeding process. Try not to slide down into a slouched position, especially if feeding in bed or on the couch – it will put an unfriendly stress on your back and neck. In order to prevent this, feed your baby while sitting upright with your back supported and your little one at the height of your breast (see #2 for positioning with pillows).

Relax your Muscles: You can get sore muscles caused by too much tension in your body. Unless necessary, always try to sit or lay down while breastfeeding. It will allow for extra support for your arms, neck, and back and will help to limit tension that you’d get from poor support while breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding will become a natural routine over time, but always be mindful of your positioning to help prevent overuse injuries. You need to take care of yourself to take care of baby!

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