Physical Therapy for Breastfeeding

Mother Holding Her Baby in the Street

By: Amita Mali, PT, OCS, FAAOMPT.

How does Physical Therapy Help with Breastfeeding?

Supporting women during breastfeeding is not easy. A lot of new moms struggle with it and often feel that other people don’t understand their story. Here at AmeriCare, we want to make sure all mommas are heard and feel good through their breastfeeding journey. ⁠ It is #WorldBreastfeedingWeek and we want to share some insights from our very own Women’s Health and Pelvic Floor specialist, Dr. Amita Mali. She has learned a lot about this topic through her vast physical therapy experience and fellowship as well as through being a new mom herself.

Common Encounters During Your Breastfeeding Journey:

  1. Neck and mid back pain with nursing

  2. Position and duration while nursing can determine the frequency of pain episodes

  3. One sided breast pain with discharge from the nipple is not normal and may warrant physician consult

  4. Occasional engorgement and associated discomfort and pain in a breast may indicate blocked duct

  5. A consult with a Physical Therapist trained in Women’s health conditions can help you identify and resolve aches and pains

Can Physical Therapy Enhance your Breastfeeding Journey?

YES! Physical Therapy can help with the following things:

  1. Optimize Positioning for Baby and Mama:⁠ Always bring the baby to you with the use of pillows or propping. You want to avoid slouching down to the baby. Keep your shoulders and back supported. Maintain a neutral neck position (we say adore that scrumptious baby, but also make sure you look back up every few minutes). Lastly, make sure those arms are supported by pillows as well.⁠ ⁠
  2. Identify Signs of Infection:  You can develop mastitis more easily when your milk ducts are backed up. Physical therapists can help to ID, treat, and determine when meeting a physician or lactation consultant is necessary. ⁠ ⁠
  3. Help with Any Pain or Discomfort:⁠ Looking down too much can definitely cause strain on your neck and back. Luckily, we are able to help you with managing your pain and utilizing exercises that can really help decrease it. ⁠ ⁠
  4. Relaxation Advice:⁠ Now that we have covered positioning, infection, and pain/discomfort the next thing to focus on is relaxation. You and your baby are all set up, so try to allow your muscles to relax and soften in places where you feel tension. Try doing some deep breaths while simultaneously focusing on relaxing specific areas of your body. This time for you and your little one will be true bliss.