I put a series of 3 factsheets together alongside Sally Scott, Chiropractor, as we felt Mum were not always given good advice about common aches and pains. Its well worth reading all 3- most of us will have tension in all these areas at some point postnatally!
New mother’s neck and upper back pain:
Neck and upper back pain is common in new mothers, particularly those who are
A rounded shoulder position and forward neck posture puts a strain on the joints
and discs in the neck and upper back.
This is a very easy posture to get into when feeding and once baby has
latched on is difficult to correct!
Pain is often achy with a tight feeling between the shoulder blades or the back of the neck.
In the neck there may also be sharp twinges on sudden movement, stiffness, or
Managing Neck and upper back pain.
Chiropractic treatment for neck and upper back pain pain includes releasing stiff
joints using gentle joint manipulation to free the movement of the joints. Massage
techniques are also employed to relieve muscle tension across the shoulders,
between the shoulder blades and at the base of the skull. The most important
action in reducing neck pain is correction of postures which are causing the
The following should be practiced to minimise strain on the neck and upper back:
Stand with the head held high and chin tucked, not jutting out.
Relax the shoulders back and down, even when carrying you’re your baby
there is no need to hunch up your shoulders.
Try to alternate which side you carry your baby on.
Get comfortable when breastfeeding, sit with your shoulders back and use supports and cushions to raise the baby up to your breast rather than lowering yourself down to the baby.
When feeding check for tension in your shoulders and whether your head is forward.
Notice the difference in posture in the second picture below to the first picture:
Back is straight and well supported, shoulders relaxed, elbows hang vertically
below shoulders, neck straight and looking forward, knees lower than hips, and
baby well propped on cushions to hold them at the right height without strain on Mum’s neck and shoulders: comfy Mum- good latch- happy baby!
All these points can apply to a well supported sitting position on a chair.
Below are some stretches to release tightness in the neck and between the
Shoulders, stretch 1: Pull arm across body keeping torso facing forward
Shoulders, stretch 2: Put backs of forearms together with elbows one on top of
the other, it doesn’t matter if you can’t link palms. Gently push elbows
downwards and pull arms outwards against each other, keeping them linked. You
should feel a stretch between the shoulder blades.
Shoulders and upper back stretch 3: Kneel on the floor and lengthen arms in
front. Reach as far forward as possible feeling a stretch in the upper back.
Neck strengthening: lie flat and tuck chin to lengthen back of neck. Push head
gently backwards into the mat (if you have a hard floor you can use a small
cushion or towel). This will release muscles at the back of the neck whilst
strengthening the deep muscles in the neck.
The content in this factsheet is intended as general advice only and does not
replace a diagnosis by a qualified professional. It is based our combined
professional opinions. Do not carry out stretches or exercises which cause pain,
discontinue and seek advice. Please feel free to contact us if you have any
Sally Scott is a Chiropractor with a special interest in pre and postnatal care. She
is based in Chorlton, Manchester
Jessica Healy is a baby and toddler birthlight yoga teacher with classes in Hale
and Sale (Cheshire), and Chorlton (Manchester). She is also a mum of two!