As a part of my breastfeeding journey, I had the chance to have brunch with several other working and breastfeeding moms. While my journey has ended, it was nice to spend some time with other working moms and their babies and offer support when I could.
One of the topics that came up was how breastfeeding affects your posture. I experienced this as well and could feel my back and shoulders were more rounded and hunched than before. To get some help on preventing and correcting breastfeeding posture, I spoke with Amy Burkholder who is a Staff Physical Therapist and Pilates Instructor for Hendricks Regional at the Hendricks Regional Health YMCA.
Any stretches to help with hunched, rounded shoulders?
Stretches for rounded shoulders: shoulder blade squeeze, thoracic extension over the back of a chair while seated, using a foam roller (which is Amy’s personal favorite!).
What should moms pay attention to in regards to posture while breastfeeding, while still minding latch, position, etc.?
What to pay attention to: once little one is latched, lift your head and try to retract the shoulders versus staying rounded with hunched posture. Use a pillow behind your lower back to support and allow upright seated posture more easily. Just as you need to make sure the baby has a good latch, you also want to be mindful of your posture especially since you spend so much time in that position.
For babywearing moms ... any concerns or things to watch out for? (The MOBY® wrap saved me so many times!)
There is definitely a need for baby wearing for some mom's (and babies!) But some things to keep in mind – don't allow head and shoulders to round forward, keep abdominal muscles engaged, and don't wear the baby for hours as your own postural muscles will fatigue and pain will result.
Tiny people come with so much stuff! Suggestions for how to carry everything and avoid injury?
Use a stroller when you can as opposed to carrying the car seat. It's really hard to keep good posture and avoid hurting your arms/shoulders when carrying for a long duration. If you can use a cross strap with your diaper bag or back pack it will help redistribute the weight as opposed to carrying over one shoulder. And definitely watch your body mechanics when bending and lifting strollers and babies out of the car. Use your legs not your back!
Editor's Note: Check out Abby's blog chronicling her experience taking a postpartum pilates class offered by the Hendricks Regional Health physical therapy department.