Over the last few weeks I’ve had some pain building up in my neck. It starts off with some stiffness when I’m tired or have just gotten out of bed. I get tension headaches from it. As I continue ignoring it, pain builds up in my neck and radiates out to my shoulders. My body gave me all of the warning signs – I should have done something about it as soon as I noticed the stiffness and headaches. Instead I waited for the grand finale – my neck exploded with full blown muscle spasms preventing me from moving at all without extreme pain. My muscles were stretched too tight and overworked, and when they go into full spasmodic mode, all I can do is try to be as still as I can for a few days until I recover.
I often blame breastfeeding (and to a lesser degree, bedsharing) for my pain, but that’s not entirely correct. In a society hell-bent on pinning as much blame on breastfeeding as it can, I acknowledge I need to stop indulging in this untruth, especially if I am to find a way to manage my problem.
The biggest problem for me is a sedentary lifestyle. I have one kid who keeps me up too late and another who wakes me up too early. It’s been too easy to stay in bed a little longer, too easy to have a quiet day at home, too easy to kick back on the lounge after dinner instead of playing with the kids. I’m choosing “sedentary” over “lazy”, because it’s fair, even necessary, to recognise when you are tired and need a break. But I need to find balance because my overcompensation for my fatigue is unhealthy and wrecking havoc on my body.
One positive change I can make is to start yoga. I can’t commit to local lessons because of my family situation, however Bettina Rae runs an online yoga studio, which allows you to work out at home. Bettina’s classes are tailored towards mums. She has several resources available that help you get your kids involved too. If you aren’t sure if online yoga is going to work for you, you can look at her Yoga for Breastfeeding video for free on youtube
At my last appointment, I asked my chiropractor whether, in his opinion, yoga would be good for me. He said he felt it would be extremely beneficial. Some neck and back pains are contributed to by poor core strength. In my case my strength is quite good (thank you babywearing!) but my flexibility is poor. I believe this is from sitting in fixed positions for extended periods (breastfeeding and bedsharing, but also too much screentime. Even before I had kids, my desk job actually saw me dealing with similar problems).
The yoga stretches are an ideal way to gradually improve my flexibility. My chiropractor even suggested that I did not need to wait until I was feeling 100% before starting – he encouraged me to continue with the yoga while my neck is recovering, but to simply listen to my body and back off if I feel like something is too much.
I always try to be an advocate for breastfeeding, and was surprised when I realised I had been unfairly blaming it for my neck pain. Moving the focus from breastfeeding and onto my overall lifestyle means I have to hold myself accountable if I am to see any changes. Thankfully doing some yoga on my lounge room floor with my kids is achievable, even for a “sedentary” mama like myself.
I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. I would encourage you to speak to your own trusted medical professional if you need help managing neck pain. This post contains affiliate links.