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  • Writer's pictureLisa Paul IBCLC

Comfort is not optional!

Breastfeeding is not a contortionist activity. As moms we need to make sure our comfort is taken care of before we let a 6 to 30 lb being in our lap to eat. Is it really that important that I would write a whole blog post on it? Yes, yes it is.

Yesterday I spent my afternoon with a lovely physical therapist because of pain in my shoulder. I am 47 years old, I figured it was part aging that put me in this space. Yet, nothing I recently did was that significant to cause the level of ache I am experiencing. Part of the evaluation was remembering past events or times when I had injured that area. The other part of the evaluation was isolating the pain to a certain area - and for me it was not my shoulder but my neck causing my shoulder to hurt.

Ahh, so I have been getting chiropractic adjustments for years because of headaches and usually my neck gets adjusted. The first adjustment of that area that I remember was when my neck seized up on me (yes, I couldn't move it!) At the time I was nursing a toddler and had been nursing non-stop for about 3 years. Nursing during the day, nursing at night and all the while sacrificing my own comfort sometimes out of laziness, sometimes just because nursing a toddler can be, well, a contortionist activity. Add in all those times of gazing down at my kids as they nursed when they were so cute! My neck "recovered" and I went on to nurse another year or so.

That was 14 years ago. Let me repeat - 14 years ago! I was younger, I could compensate, other muscles took over. I exercised, I got in really good shape. I carried my big kids with and without contraptions, I nursed in odd positions, but I never did fix the neck thing. Over the years, I have aggravated it by having bad posture while using my phone and computer, reading, sitting, driving - yep, basic daily living. My exercise routine got less intense, as my neck was easier to aggravate.

Today I am using pillows to support my arms while I type...just like I should have done when nursing. I am paying attention to my posture. I am SO aware of all the muscles involved - just look a the picture to the right. Do you think you may just be using a couple of those to nurse your baby? I wish I had been a bit more aware of my own comfort when my kids were little. I "muscled" my way through it, sacrificing in the short term. I learned the hard way that self-care is not optional!

If you are a nursing mom, think about how you can take care of yourself while nursing today. If you are beyond nursing, think back to those days and remember if there was any "pain" you neglected at the time. If yes, what can you do today to prevent future challenges?

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