4 August, 2020
Stretches for Breastfeeding Mums
Approximate reading time: 2 minutes
With a newborn, you are literally feeding around the clock. It's tiring. You don't have a moment to yourself. It's easy to rush through those first few weeks. You aren't thinking about your posture. You are barely thinking. Just surviving.
Make sure you give yourself a chance to rest and recuperate - not only from pregnancy and birth but also from the physical and emotional pressures of breastfeeding. You deserve it. You need it.
There's lots of ways to get some relief from hunched over breastfeeding posture. Here are three easy examples (with my trusty little helper):
- Downdog. This is a yoga classic! Not surprising given how amazing it feels. You can place a slight bend through the knees or lift your heels off the ground to take tension off the hamstrings. Keep your spine & neck straight to protect the joints.
- Child's Pose. By bending the arms up behind your head, you'll also get a stretch through the shoulders and back of the arms.
Another alternative to the standard child's pose, is to turn your palms up. This again provides a lengthening stretch through the arms and chest.
- Eagle Arms. This is a beautiful and simple one. You can sit or stand however is comfortable or add more mobility by tangling your legs up too (as shown in the pictures). To get a deeper stretch through the mid back, lift your arms up towards the sky.
Your posture while breastfeeding is a whole other topic in itself, however, I wanted to plant the seed here. You can use feeding time to do some gentle stretches.
This shouldn't be done in the first few months. Two reasons: 1) your body is still 'loosey goosey' so yin yoga should be avoided and 2) your baby doesn't have the strength yet to hold themselves up.
Two of my favourite postures to use for Harry's nightly feed are:
- Spinal twist. I like to cross my legs over as this feels better for my body. It's also a great release to simply drop your knees to one side uncrossed.
- Butterfly. Easy pose. Lying on your back, place the heels of your feet together.
Keeping it Safe
In the early days, weeks and months, your body is still healing. You need to be gentle on your body.
From a yoga perspective, its suggested that you don't practice yin yoga. Your joints and muscles are still in a relaxed & stretchy state. The hormone relaxin can be present for months after birth.
For example, make sure your ribs aren't popping forwards when doing chest or pec stretches. This can place extra pressure on the abdominal muscles and connective tissue.
Your Chiropractor can help you find safe and comfortable positions to stretch tight muscles. Little corrections can enhance the stretch, while keeping it appropriate for your body.
Special thanks to our little bunny rabbit helper, Master H, Cassie's son.
About the Author
Dr Cassie Atkinson-Quinton - Chiropractor, Doula, Women's Health Yoga & Pilates Instructor, Spinning Babies Lover
As a Chiropractor, Doula and perinatal Pilates & Yoga instructor, Dr Cassie loves to help pregnant women keep fit, healthy and comfortable. Knowing how empowering it felt to be fit and energetic during the pregnancy of her son inspires Cassie to want this for her patients. Cassie incorporates Spinning Babies, Yoga and Pilates exercises into her prenatal and postpartum Chiropractic sessions. She's currently studying her Graduate Certificate in Women's Health Medicine through the University of New South Wales.