Monday, March 14, 2011

Simple Stretches and Self-Massage Relieve Tension from Breastfeeding

New moms have it rough the first few months. As breastfeeding starts and new moms get comfortable with their role, they spend a lot of time looking down and holding the newborn in their arms. While that may be blissful at the moment, a few weeks of breastfeeding can cause stress and tension all through the neck and chest area. But there’s a simple way to relieve that tension.

As a massage therapist in Louisville and Nashville, I see these changes first hand, especially as a new mother starts to breastfeed. Nursing moms can carry a lot of tension in the arms, chest and the front and sides of the neck. This can result in headaches, achy and sore shoulders, tired arms and numbness/tingling in the arms and hands. Most of the time, some short stretches or self-massage tips can ease up that tension and give moms a little relief. Some of these stretches you can even do while you are nursing! I put together a short video of the stretches and self-massage tips so my new moms can watch and follow along.

My new mothers enjoyed the Self-Massage for Nursing Mamas and New Moms video, and I hope you’ll find it helpful, too!

If you find yourself with neck and shoulder pain – especially after breastfeeding or when you’ve been holding your infant for a while, try some of these stretches and self-massage tips to open up the chest and front of the neck. Look around the room a bit and stretch out the front and side of the neck while you are nursing. I know it’s hard, but try to keep from gazing down at your little one the entire time with your head tilted down or to one side – that puts the whole weight of the head in the hands of muscles designed to move the head, not support it.


Heather Wibbels, LMT, practices massages therapy in Louisville, KY at For eight years, she's worked extensively with clients suffering from chronic pain, stress and stress-related injuries and illnesses. A key part of her practice includes using her blog to give clients self-help tools like self-massage and stretches that can make a difference in their daily lives.


When I first breastfed our little angel, I experienced nipple discomfort and tenderness. I was advised to massage my breasts every time I take a bath. What I did was stroke my breast downwards toward the nipple with the palm of my hand in a circulation motion. It did lessen the pain.

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This video is great! Thank you so much for posting, I'm confident the stretches will do wonders for my neck pain!
Thank you!!!

Thank you so much!!! I had significant shoulder blade pain and numbness and tingling down my arm with my first child and just got through it. With my new baby it is much worse. Tonight was to the point of being unbearable. I found your video and did the exercises and already feel much better. Thank you so very much. Not only can I get through the night but I can keep doing these for long term gain.

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