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A Physical Therapist's Guide to Optimizing Your Breastfeeding Posture


Breastfeeding your baby introduces a new set of habitual movements that can create muscular imbalance and cause aches and pain, all while you are trying to actively recovery from child birth. With the amount of feedings needed for your baby, you will be spending countless hours in a sustained position. Therefore, ensuring that you are sitting properly will help to prevent discomfort and promote optimal healing of the abdomen and pelvic floor postpartum. These same recommendations are beneficial to follow as well while breast pumping. Check out the recommendations below to help optimize your posture and improve your breastfeeding experience:


  1. Place your feet flat on the floor.

  2. Sit with your weight evenly balanced between both sitz bones (no crossing of your legs).

  3. Scoot your bottom all the way to the back of the chair or couch. If sitting supported, put your buttocks up against the back of the chair and then place a small roll or cushion along the small of your back to maintain a comfortable inward curve.

    1. If your feet do not touch the floor or the seat is too wide place a vertical pillow behind your back.

    2. Maintain an erect posture and keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears.

  4. Bring your baby to your breast rather than bending over to bring your breast to your baby.

    1. You can achieve this by utilizing pillows/blankets positioned underneath of your baby.

  5. Avoid staring down at your baby the entire time and try to maintain your neck in a neutral posture.


Why does posture matter while breastfeeding?

Research has shown that when we sit in a slumped posture, our pelvic floor muscle activity is significantly less than when we are sitting tall thus influencing urinary continence and urgency.(1) Additionally, slouched sitting postures decrease the activity of your transverse abdominal muscles, one of the muscles of your ‘inner core’.(1,2) This is relevant as co-contraction of the transversus abdominis and the pelvic floor muscles play a key role in enhancing bladder control.(3)


How a Physical Therapist Can Help You Create a More Enjoyable Breastfeeding Experience


If you are finding yourself having discomfort while breastfeeding your local pelvic physical therapist may be able to assist you in managing your symptoms so that you may be able to create a more enjoyable experience and sustain the length your breastfeeding experience as you desire. Here, at Smithfield Physical Therapy Specialists, we are trained to address any orthopedic and musculoskeletal symptoms you may experience postpartum from spinal pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and headaches to urinary incontinence, pelvic pain and general postpartum recovery. Although many of these symptoms are commonly experienced postpartum you do not have to simply endure them alone, we can help!



REFERENCES:

  1. Sapsford, RR. et al (2006) Sitting posture affects pelvic floor muscle activity in parous women: an observation study. Aust L Physiother. 52(3):219-22

  2. Reeve, A., Dilley, A., (2009) Effects of posture on the thickness of Transverse Abdominal Muscle and Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises for Stress Urinary Incontinence: A Randomized controlled Trial. J Phys Ther Sci. 26(8): 1161-1163.

  3. Kimiko T. et al (2014) Effects of Co-contraction of Both Transverse Abdominal Muscle and Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises For Stress Urinary Incontinence: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Phys Ther Sci, 26(8):1161-1163

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