Breastfeeding & Momming with Chronic Pain

I was recently chatting with a friend who was reflecting on how physically challenging parenting is. She has a four-year-old, a newborn, and is currently pregnant with her third child. She related the challenges of pregnancy and added those of caring for a newborn.

Cramps, lowered lung capacity, and the general exhaustion of pregnancy combined with the constant lifting, putting down, feeding of a newborn, and hands on activities of a growing toddler; like potty training and cleaning up can make for an exhausted mama (and dad, to a large degree). I deeply admire my friend and immediately thought of what it might be like to be in her shoes. I got tired just thinking about it.

It’s never a good exercise to compare your own challenges with the challenges of others, but it did make me think about how different it might be to care for a newborn and toddler when I also suffer from chronic pain. 

I have dealt with chronic pain since I was a preteen. It affects most of my body in different ways at different times, all as a result of hypermobility. Basically, even in my worst shape, I’m a very bendy person. Are you familiar with those stretches that you’re supposed to do in yoga or after a workout to relieve stress on your ligaments and muscles? The ones that feel “so good” when you try to touch your toes? Those don’t bring me much relief. I’ve found my own ways of healthy stretching under the professional advice of doctors and physical therapists, but I sympathize with women who suffer from much more constant, deeper, chronic pain. 

I think back on the days of nursing my daughter and how hard it was on my neck and shoulders, especially as a tall woman. Talk about cricks in my neck – ow! Pillows became my best friend – they went behind my back, under my elbow to prop up my daughter, around my neck, between my legs at night to relieve my lower back. 

If you are affected by chronic pain and are also trying to Mom, consider taking some time (whenever you can) to stretch, do yoga and drink a lot of water. Surprisingly, drinking a great deal of water can help cleanse your body from toxins, loosen up your ligaments and muscles, and even give you a boost of energy. As you know, it also helps with your milk production. Don’t let your pain control you. Talk to your doctor about adding some light exercise into your weekly rhythm to strengthen your muscles which support your bones and ligaments which may hurt. Even waking up five minutes earlier to walk around your block can help get your blood flowing and loosen you up before you start the day. Not to mention, it’ll give you a few minutes to clear your head before you head into Mom mode!

Most importantly, make sure you are listening to your body. If you push yourself too hard – emotionally or physically, you will wear yourself out faster and be left with less to give to your kids. Ice packs, heat wraps, stretching, light exercise, and accommodations such as pillows can make a real difference in your pain management. Limit your caffeine intake, and if approved by a doctor, consider your sodium intake which can affect your energy levels and pain. Try a new breastfeeding position under the supervision of a lactation consultant.

Moms who deal with chronic pain and both hands full with kid/s, you are not alone. No matter the source, cause or triggers of your chronic pain, it’s worth talking about with other moms and looking for healthy solutions. You are not alone!

If you think you are suffering from pain more constant and deeper than what’s usually associated with having a baby or exercising, talk to your doctor to see if they can give you some help with more comprehensive treatment.

Disclaimer: The Latched Mama blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Content from the Latched Mama blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.  The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding and entertainment only; with experiences shared from Mom to Mom. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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