CLEVELAND – New moms can’t resist gazing down at their newborn while nursing or bottle-feeding, but holding the head in this position for long periods of time can cause a real pain in the neck.
In fact, research shows neck and shoulder pain is common in new moms.
Andrew Bang, D.C., of Cleveland Clinic said holding an infant and looking down puts an incredible amount of pressure on the shoulders and neck.
“Your head weighs about ten pounds so when I’m looking straight forward it’s about ten pounds of pressure on my neck and shoulders,” said Dr. Bang. “But when I look down at my infant, that pressure can raise as high as 60 pounds of pressure on your neck and shoulders.”
Dr. Bang said looking down at an infant multiple times per day can lead to mid-back pain.
He describes mid-back pain as a feeling of burning or weakness right between the shoulder blades.
Sitting hunched over while feeding a newborn can strain muscles in the neck and upper back, so it’s a good idea for new moms –and dads – to have good posture and try to sit up straight.
He said using a C-shaped pillow can help support a newborn so that caregivers aren’t using their own muscular strength to hold their baby while feeding.
He adds that women who are nursing can avoid back pain by using pillows or changing position while breast feeding.
“It’s easily avoided by getting your baby higher, by putting them on a pillow as you nurse, or by lying down and sideline nursing so that you can rest your neck and shoulders and not be looking down so much,” said Dr. Bang.
According to Dr. Bang, rolling a foam roller or tennis ball over sore, tired muscles in the neck, back and shoulders can provide relief as well.