Do you have aches and pains from your new baby? Did you know that some of this may be helped by being aware of the positioning of your own body? I am writing to discuss the importance of your body position while feeding your baby. The “Baby Feeding Ergonomics”.
Let’s start by being realistic
You’re never going to be able to achieve a perfect feeding position every time, in every location. Just try your best to work on these where you can. I have yet to find the perfect feeding position when we are on the go. It seems I always end up feeling sore when I am done feeding, be it breast feeding or bottle feeding. Focusing on the two main spots I fed in my home to make sure they were ergonomically correct, allows myself and my son to be the most relaxed and comfortable. PS: if I could feed my son in my car every day I would! It happens to be the most supported seating spot I have.
OTs who work with ergonomics use the rule of 90
This rule states that you want your hip joint and ankle joints to be as close to a 90 degree angle as possible. Additionally you want your ears in a line with shoulders and then in line with your hips. This may sound restrictive and complicated but I promise they are not. Basically you want your hips, bum, back and feet to be supported and your upper body to be in line with your hips. This avoids having your head/ neck hunched forward and is the most comfy position for your hips. It does not mean you can’t put your feet up while feeding. Rather that you might need to use pillows to improve the angle of your hips or the positioning of your back.
Example: when I am feeding my son on the couch I needed a stool to feel comfortable. Otherwise my feet would dangle which put increased pressure on my hips. This would then also cause back pain! The stool allowed me to have my back rest against the couch while maintaining a line between ears, shoulder and hips! My second feeding location is a rocking chair. I added a stool to allow me to be in a more restful position. However I needed a bit more height to the stool still. Adding a throw pillow on top of the stool to make it more ergonomically correct position. If I do not have that pillow I feel it and it doesn’t even give much more height!
But what about my sore arms/shoulders you say?
Well the trick for that is to keep your shoulders down from your ears in a relaxed position. Keep your elbows as close to your body as is comfortable and use your biceps. To use your biceps you want to either have your hands facing upwards or facing inward/towards each other position. As well this is another place where lots of pillows can be very helpful! Even though my son is 15 months now I continue to bottle feed him before bed on our soft nursing pillow because it allows my arms to hold him but it takes some of his weight off of my arms.
I found the more firm breast feeding pillow provided better support when my son was young but as he grew it didn’t allow the best positioning that is when we transitioned to the soft nursing pillow with either the rocking chair arm rest under it or another pillow to allow him to rest in my comfort zone. As he got bigger and transferred to a bottle we mostly used the soft nursing pillows.
These steps might seem like a lot to remember but usually if you take a bit of time to think your positioning through and get the right tools to support you and your baby then your body will feel way more comfortable and it will hopefully help your body feel better! If you are interested in finding out more specifics book an appointment with myself Megan the OT at Warman Physio, or join my online presentation February 12, 2021.