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The Ergonomics of Breastfeeding

Have aches and pains become commonplace during or after breastfeeding? This may be a sign that you need to modify your breastfeeding position to help reduce the pain.

Your new Bub may only be around 5 to 10 kilos but if you’re feeding every 2-3 hours, that can definitely put a strain on your body. Especially if your breastfeeding position is not optimal.

Studies have shown that learning how to breastfeed in an ergonomic position has reduced the risk of musculoskeletal injuries in breastfeeding mothers (Afshariani, R. et al. 2019).

So how do you optimise your breastfeeding position?

Step 1: A Supportive Chair

It is important to have a chair with good back support as you will be sitting down frequently and for prolonged periods of time whilst breastfeeding. Make sure you sit all the way back in the chair with your lower back supported too. If there are gaps between the chair and your back, try placing a pillow behind or a rolled towel on the small of your back. It’s also ideal to find a chair that allows your hips and knees to bend at approximately a 90 degree angle with your feet flat on the floor.

Step 2: Foot Support

When breastfeeding you want both feet flat on the floor. If your chair does not allow for this, see if you can purchase a foot stool or create a makeshift foot stool out of pillows, boxes or books! If you find yourself lifting your baby up with your tip toes, this can lead to other strains on your legs and feet.

Step 3: Pillows!

If you normally use the cross cradle position to breastfeed, you probably know how fatigued your arms feel after holding your baby in that position for 15 minutes. To minimise the strain on your shoulders, arms and wrists, try instead to support your baby with pillows. Place the pillows on your lap so that your baby is brought to the level of your nipple. Remember, the aim is to bring the baby to you instead of you to the baby.

Step 4: Move and Stretch

Whilst it can be very tempting to keep your eyes on your baby at all times, craning your neck for prolonged periods puts increased load onto your joints, muscles and ligaments. To minimise discomfort, it is important to change your head and neck position frequently once your baby is supported and latched on. After breastfeeding, you can do gentle movements and stretches with your neck and shoulders to help relax. For example, turning your head side to side, rolling your shoulders back and forth and getting up and going for a walk to change up your position.

Give these steps a go, but if your discomfort persists… give us a call here at Bend + Mend and one of our Physio’s can dive into a deeper assessment to provide you with additional advice on pain management and exercises!



Rani, S., Habba, U. E., Qazi, W. A., Tassadaq, N., (2019). Association of Breast Feeding Positioning with Musculoskeletal Pain in Post Partum Mothers is Rawalpindi and Islamabad. [Journal of Pakistan Medical Association] Vol.69 No. 4 April 2019.


Afshariani, R., Kiani, M., Zamanian, Z. (2019). The Influence of Ergonomic Breastfeeding Training on Some Health Parameters in Infants and Mothers: A Randomized Controlled Trial. [Archives of Public Health] 77:47 .


Bend + Mend

Bend + Mend has been providing Sydney’s CBD with Physiotherapy and Pilates services since 2003. We have 4 great locations in Martin Place, Barangaroo, Darling Park and Circular Quay, all with private rooms and specialised one-on-one care. We also have Sydney CBD’s best-loved Physios who have helped over 10,000 people recover from pain and injury.

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