By Anna Burns, PT, DPT
New moms spend a LOT of time feeding their newborns. Whether via breast or bottle, feeding can put the body in unusual sustained positions that often lead to shoulder, upper back, and neck pain or stiffness.
A few stretches I love to give my new moms include a doorway stretch, a chest opener on the floor or a foam roller, and a neck stretch. All stretches can be done multiple times a day as needed. Hold each for about 30 seconds.
For the doorway stretch, place elbows and wrists on one side of the door frame at about shoulder height. Place one foot in front and use your foot to guide you gently through the doorway. You should feel the stretch along the fronts of the shoulders and upper chest. You can play around with angles to see where you get the best stretch. If your fingers start going numb, back off the stretch and lower your hands in the doorway.
For the chest opener, lay flat on the floor and open your arms out wide and slightly up towards your head. Take a few deep breaths in this position. To make the stretch deeper, you can do this laying the long way on the foam roller or rolling up a blanket and laying it along your spine.
For the neck stretch, gently tilt your head to one side and place that arm on the opposite side of the head to gently stretch the side of your neck. After a few breaths here, tilt your head downward as if you were trying to look at (or smell!) your armpit. Repeat on the other side.