Avoid and Treat New-Mom Injuries

Mommy Mistake: Hunching Over During Feedings

mother bottle feeding baby

The injury Pulled or strained neck and shoulder muscles. Spending hours with your neck pushed forward means the shoulder and neck muscles have to work harder to support your head, which can lead to overstretching or small tears. "This is one of the most common postpartum complaints because mothers spend so much time seated, leaning forward, and gazing down at the baby during feeding sessions," advises Heather Jeffcoat, a physical therapist in Los Angeles.

Prevent it While feeding your baby, be sure to look up periodically and do rolling-neck stretches, recommends Wendy Haldeman, R.N., a lactation consultant in Los Angeles. Use a footstool and a pillow or a nursing pillow to raise your baby a bit higher. Keep your arms free, resting on the pillow, so they aren't bearing your baby's weight. If you're bottle-feeding, switch sides regularly to give your arms and shoulders a rest.

Heal it To counteract the frequent overstretching of the muscles around the spine and neck, you need to do exercises that isolate and stretch the muscles in front, says Dr. Piligian. One easy move: Clasp your hands behind your waist and gently extend your arms further back to open up the chest area. Applying heating pads can improve circulation and loosen tight muscles. A deep-tissue massage can provide relief. If the problem persists, see a doctor. You could have tendinitis, which may require treatment with anti-inflammatory medication.

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