Is Your Nursing Posture Triggering a Stress Response?

Is Your Nursing Posture Triggering a Stress Response?

Parenting an infant is hard. Add hormones, sleepless nights, returning to work, and a busy family schedule to the mix, and it’s no wonder moms often feel stressed out and overwhelmed! But what if there’s another factor causing moms to feel tense?

What if the unique stress cascade experienced by first-time moms is largely the result of one thing that most people overlook— the posture we take while nursing or bottle feeding our children?
— Jordan Adams, D.C., and Joseph Adams, D.C.

If you’ve ever sought chiropractic care, you may already be aware of the connections between our bodies and minds. In this case, we’re looking specifically at the relationship between your nursing posture - with your body rounded forward, leaning in toward your baby - and how it could be triggering a stress response.

Whether you’re nursing, pumping, or bottle feeding your baby, you’re most likely spending a good amount of time in a posture that’s activating your sympathetic nervous system. This rounded, forward physical position sends messages to your brain similar to the fight-or-flight signal. Spending too much time in this forward-leaning posture can create physical strain and pain, as well.

Related: The Fourth Trimester: Planning for Your Postpartum Recovery

If you think your nursing posture is triggering a stress response that keeps you feeling irritable or on edge, shift your posture while nursing and throughout the day to see if your mood shifts. Also try the natural breastfeeding position, lying down, with baby’s belly on yours. Your body will be more relaxed, while your baby has an easier time latching. Finally, schedule an appointment with a chiropractor, who can help you further correct any structural imbalances that are triggering your stress response or causing physical pain.

Related: Positioning Your Baby for Breastfeeding

The Pathways to Wellness article, Nursing Posture and Its Role in Sympathetic Dominance, offers these pointers for at-home remedies for improving your posture:

  • 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.

Learn more about the relationship between your posture and your sympathetic nervous system in the Pathways to Wellness article, Nursing Posture and Its Role in Sympathetic Dominance.