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Breastfeeding & Sore Joints

by
author image Jessica Lietz
Jessica Lietz has been writing about health-related topics since 2009. She has several years of experience in genetics research, survey design, analysis and epidemiology, working on both infectious and chronic diseases. Lietz holds a Master of Public Health in epidemiology from The Ohio State University.
Breastfeeding & Sore Joints
Awkward nursing positions lead to joint pain in your neck and shoulders. Photo Credit claudiodivizia/iStock/Getty Images

Soreness in your joints commonly results from joint tension, muscle tension and fatigue, which are not strangers to breastfeeding mothers. Awkward nursing positions, infections and chronic health conditions are all common causes of joint soreness in breastfeeding moms. Fortunately, joint soreness in breastfeeding mothers is treatable with home care and pain relievers; it's often preventable with changes in breastfeeding holds.

Causes

Long nursing sessions stress the joints in your neck, shoulders, back, hands and elbows, leading to tendinitis. Leaning over and bringing your breast to the baby strains the joints in your upper back, neck, arms and hands. Fatigue due to lack of sleep and labor leaves many new mothers with sore joints. Influenza causes widespread joint soreness; this infection is common during the winter months and among those in contact with young children. Arthritis in your joints can also lead to soreness while breastfeeding.

Treatments

Many breastfeeding mothers try natural or home remedies to treat joint soreness, to avoid unwanted side effects of medications that pass into their breast milk. Massage therapy loosens tight and stiff joints stressed by awkward nursing positions, explains the Drugs.com website. Warm compresses also help to loosen tight and sore muscles and joints; they can be applied before, during or after a nursing session.

Gentle stretches after a nursing sessions relieves pressure on your joints. Walking while pushing your baby in a stroller also helps relax your joints and muscles.

Ibuprofen or naproxen sodium treats pain that does not respond to home care or joint soreness resulting from influenza. For severe joint pain, family physicians prescribe steroid medications to treat arthritis and stronger pain relievers safe for lactation.

Prevention

Getting your annual influenza vaccination prevents most infections of the influenza virus and protects your baby against infection, as she receives antibodies through your milk. Support your baby with pillows during nursing sessions; use pillows to support your back and neck as needed to reduce stress and tension in your muscles and joints. Nurse your baby using the side-lying position so that you can get some rest; let the bed do the work of supporting your baby while she ls next to you.

Considerations

Stress contributes to tension in your muscles and joints, worsening your pain. Breastfeeding holds that worked well while your baby was a newborn may cause discomfort and soreness in your joints as she gets heavier and more active. If your soreness becomes severe, lasts for more than three days and does not respond to pain relievers, seek medical care.

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