No matter if it’s your first child or your fourth, life with a new baby is amazing. But it also can be amazingly stressful. Loss of sleep, uncertainty, change in schedules, and an influx of hormones can leave your body and mind in a near constant state of stress. In addition to healing from giving birth, an activity that has become a big part of your new routine can also affect your health: feeding your baby!
When nursing, bottle feeding, or pumping, mom’s postures are typically rounded forward with shoulders rolled in and head facing down toward the baby (or sometimes a phone or iPad… we know it can be a great time to catch up on Netflix!). This posture can not only cause pain, it can also result in added anxiety or tension.
Pathways to Family Wellness publication (Issue 61) published an entire article around the impact posture can have on overall wellness for new moms. When a person’s sympathetic nervous system activates -– more commonly known as the fight or flight response, the body physically prepares by rounding the shoulders, moving the head forward, and tensing the backs of the legs. What’s less known is that when we round our shoulders and drop our head forward, even in a state of calm relaxation, the spine sends messages to the brain that mimic that fight-or-flight alert. In short, our physical posture can affect our nervous system, just the same as our nervous system affects physical posture in moments of real stress. The major difference between these two sources of signaling is a tendency toward chronic sympathetic activity when posture is the driving signal. Our posture is something we engage in all day long, and it’s important to know which postures feed the stress response and which alleviate it.
This is where chiropractic comes in. If you are feeling pain or experiencing stress postpartum, a visit to see Dr. Laura at Whole Health Chiropractic can help assess and correct for structural imbalances and also remove subluxations to down-regulate the sympathetic response and promote parasympathetic and vagal nerve activity. Supporting your body in this way supports calmness, relaxation, and even digestion so you can continue to live the best life possible for you, your baby and your family. Below is a story from WHC patient, Mary K. who shares her postpartum journey with chiropractic.
I began my chiropractic journey when I was two months postpartum. I decided to go to Whole Health Chiropractic because my back was in a lot of pain, to the point where I would cry when holding my newborn for long periods of time or when I would nurse him (sitting or standing). Dr. Laura was very flexible and got me in as soon as possible since I was in so much pain. The first couple of weeks made my back feel better. I also noticed when leaving my appointments that I would feel a sense of relief of pent up anxiety as well. I have been going now for two months, about twice a week, and I have seen tremendous results. My back is not in pain anymore, my digestive system has improved, and an unexpected effect was how it has impacted my mental health. The winter months are typically hard for me, as I have seasonal depression, but with chiropractic care I have felt that I can manage this time of year without medication, which I am grateful for due to the fact I am breastfeeding. I would recommend Whole Health Chiropractic to anyone, especially if you are postpartum!
If you have recently had a baby and are looking to feel your best, call 515-277-0366 to set up an appointment or a 15-minute introductory call with Dr. Laura!
In the meantime, below are a few tips to help support your posture during those around-the-clock feeing times:
While feeding or holding your child, sit or stand tall, with your chest open and shoulders down and back. There should be a sensation of the body, lengthening upward and expanding outward, with the torso resting on a balanced pelvis and secure lower back.
If your feet don’t reach the floor while you’re feeding your baby, use a footstool.
Stretch your chest and your hamstrings and take time to stretch your other muscles and ligaments when you can.
Invest in an ergonomic breastfeeding pillow for support. This shouldn’t be a substitute for ideal posture, but an aid to it.
Schedule at least 10 minutes of quiet alone time every day to help reboot your nervous system to autonomic balance.