Feed the Baby and Nod YES in Celebration of National Physical Therapy Month


As a new mommy, feeding my little H can sometimes be a pain in the neck; in the physical sense of course. Have you experienced pain with feeding? Whether you are breastfeeding or using a bottle (dads, grandparents, friends, sisters, brothers, and daycare providers might be helping with the bottle), the feeding process can bring about pain.

October is National Physical Therapy Month. In celebration of the month, I turned to Leigh A. Roberts, DPT, OCS, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, and a Polestar Certified Rehabilitation Pilates Practitioner right here in Columbia, MD for some tips on how to manage pain during feedings. Below is an excerpt of our conversation.

“New parents spend many hours nursing their little ones. Therefore, we also spend many hours looking down. When baby is newborn, it is important to be sure baby is latched correctly, whether on the breast or bottle; however, once baby becomes good at latching we continue this habit. Why do we continue to do this?

The answer is simple – our little ones make the cutest faces so we don’t want to miss any of their precious expressions. However, all of that looking down can cause neck pain and put stress on your upper back.

As a physical therapist and mom of three children, I can relate to you on a personal and professional level. If you are craning your head down every time you feed, you are setting yourself up for muscle soreness and pain.

  1. Hopefully, you have mastered good positioning for feeding your baby so you already are sitting in a good chair with pillows to support under your arms. Now you must think about your posture and neck position! You are going to learn to NOD your head instead of bending from your neck.
  2. Once you have baby latched, lean back against the chair to support for your upper back and neck. You should never lean forward toward baby to feed him / her, you should always pull baby to you.
  3. Next, tuck your chin in like you are making a double chin (it’s okay – baby won’t mind) and lengthen the back of your neck.
  4. Now, think of a bobblehead doll; this image is actually quite accurate anatomically. Our head sit on top of our spine and can nod up and down like a bobblehead. You can look down at your baby by nodding your head and then gaze down with your eyes.

Doesn’t that feel better already? Remember to also relax your shoulders in this position. Use the time you are feeding your baby as a chance to give your body and neck a break. Remember to support your back, nod your head, and gaze at that amazing child.”

For additional resources, be sure to watch Dr. Roberts’ video on neck pain and poor posture. To learn more about Dr. Roberts and her practice, L A R Physical Therapy, visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook. If you make an appointment, be sure to mention you learned about L A R Physical Therapy through Babies & Banana Bread.

Happy National Physical Therapy Month!

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Photos courtesy of Dr. Leigh A. Roberts (L A R Physical Therapy).