After labor and deliver, afterbirth contractions, a sore body and engorged breasts often make slow work of the recovery process. If you've chosen to breastfeed your baby, the potential for a strained neck adds more complexity to an already painful recovery period. While there's little you can do about afterbirth contraction pain, neck and back pain from breastfeeding is completely preventable with the right products and the right technique while feeding your little one.
It's a common mistake to hunch over your baby to bring your breast to his mouth for easier nursing. While hunching over will help your baby latch easier, it makes for extreme discomfort for the 15 to 30 minutes you spend each nursing session. Bring your baby to your breast and not your breast to your baby. If you have trouble latching otherwise, hunch over your baby just to obtain a solid latch, then scoop your baby up and lean back while holding your baby against your body to relieve strain in the neck and upper back.
A U-shaped nursing pillow is ideal to help reduce strain on the neck during a feeding session. A nursing pillow conforms to your body and brings the baby's position higher so you don't need to support all of his weight with your arms, neck and back. Nursing pillows are especially important for babies who must nurse in a certain position, which may not be the most comfortable for you. Nursing pillows are typically available at baby supply and big box stores.
The soft couch is certainly a draw for tired nursing mothers, but if possible, opt for a more supportive seating arrangement. While a couch is a comfortable option, most couches lack proper lumbar support, which could result in upper back and neck strain as you feed your baby. Choose a glider or soft rocking chair where you're able to maintain an upright position to avoid slumping and poor posture while you breastfeed.
Your breasts undergo various changes during the pregnancy and breastfeeding phases, which is why a new, supportive bra is in order. Your breasts change shape, so your old bras aren't as supportive as they once were. Your heavier, larger breasts often cause back and neck pain, especially if you typically have smaller breasts when not pregnant or breastfeeding. Invest in a supportive, well-fitting nursing bra to help give you the extra support you need until you wean your baby.