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Thursday, February 9, 2012

If you plan on ever breastfeeding, please read.

I hadn't planned on writing this post yet, but I'm hurting pretty bad today. 

So bad, I cried before I started typing, and after I took an advil...

I've been dealing with muscle knot pain for the past 6 months. I have literally hurt on some degree for the past 6 months. I'm sure most of you all have probably had a muscle knot at one point in your life, but mine are very bad and I have a few (only on the right side). The worst being on my right shoulder and some around my shoulder blade and now one on my neck. The one that causes the worst pain is the one on my right shoulder that's right on my trapezius. If you knead the area you will actually feel a large lump. That's the muscle knot.

I'd like to start at the beginning. Layla was exclusively breastfeed for 4 months. In the beginning a newborn needs to eat about every 2 hours. Layla would eat every 2-3 hours for the first 3 months of her life. Sometimes she would have episodes of cluster feeding where she would eat every hour a few times a day. I loved breastfeeding her and knowing that she was thriving because of me. 

By about month 3 of breastfeeding I started getting pain in my neck, and then my right trapezius muscle started hurting. Here's the problem. I was bad about using my boppy or pillows as support. She hardly weighed anything, I thought my arms were strong enough. Imagine though cradling a baby every few hours sometimes for 45 minutes at a time, not including when you need to rock them to sleep, or when you are just moving them around. 

When you are pregnant you develop a hormone called relaxin, it allows your pelvis to loosen to allow the baby to pass through, what it also does is relax the other joints in your body too. This hormone stays in your system for several months after you give birth. A post partum woman is much more susceptible to hurting themselves because of this hormone. (Something I did not know)

So by about month three when the pain started, I need to do something about it. I have seen the following since then:

* Chiropractor
* Family doctor
* Physical therapy
*Sports medicine doctor

None of them were any help. The chiropractor not so much since they deal mainly with adjusting the bones, the family doctor wanted to give me muscle relaxers, the physical therapist just gave me some stretches, the sports medicine doctor tried a few things and again I left disappointed.

So out of all those doctors not one told me what the real answer is to getting rid of muscle knots. The answer is massage-to get those fibers to release. Unfortunately, massage is rarely covered by insurance. I have gotten a few but I can't always go, they aren't cheap. 


So for now, I have my trusty little heating pad that helps immensely, my tennis ball to help work out the ones on my back, my magnesium supplements I take twice a day and some magnesium oil. Hot baths also help. I should probably get on muscle relaxers but I hate taking medicine. I will only take an advil on really bad days and even then sometimes it does nothing. I also noticed that yoga helps alot too and I try to exercise 4-5 days a week. I've been athletic my whole life but tend to have a weaker upper body.

I don't know what to do. Sometimes I just break down and cry when it hurts so bad. I do alot of praying too. Maybe I'm not praying enough, maybe God is trying to talk to me through my pain. I'm not sure. I've also realized that pain can at times be psychological. If I'm out and about sometimes I forget about it. You will catch me rubbing my shoulder alot though. 

The issue is now Layla keeps getting bigger. I'm small. I weigh under a 100 lbs and Layla is already 19 pounds. Basically I'm lifting 19 pounds with a hurt shoulder every single day throughout the day. I can't not carry her though. I love holding her and I have no choice. I alternate arms as much as possible and I play with her on the floor alot but the issue is the transfer. Lifting her in her high chair, lifting her in her crib, lifting her on her changing table, the car seat, etc. I wanted to stop breastfeeding twice but I couldn't do it, I drastically cut it down and for the past 2 months, I only nurse her at night when she wakes up.

There is hope though. Yes there are days where I feel the pain will never go away but then there are days where I know that it will go away! I have one voucher left for a massage that I can still use, and my husband found me a neuromuscular massage therapist that can help me (but I'm waiting on this one since again it's expensive and the knots can reknot up if I'm not careful). Also my little brother is about 6 months into massage therapy school and he plans on making me his first case study. One day this will go away.

I'm a huge supporter of breastfeeding despite this. So if you plan on breastfeeding please, please support your arms when you feed your baby. Even if you think you don't need it, use it anyways. Also try not to constantly keep your head down staring at your sweet baby as it feeds. This is very bad for your neck. 

There were some days were I wish I would have never breastfeed Layla, but if looking back I knew this was going to happen, I'm pretty sure I would have done it anyways, Layla has yet to be sick. Has it been worth it? If it's protected her from illness and will continue to do so, than the answer is yes.




25 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! I'm really hoping to breastfeed my next baby so this is good to know!!

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  2. I'm so sorry that you're going through this! Thanks so much for sharing your experience so that us newbies can learn. I hope it gets better soon!

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  3. Wonderful post!! I have been breastfeeding my daughter for almost 4 years now and she too almost never gets sick. But like you, it was very painful for me, for about 3 months. Sometimes I would cry when doing it. Now of course it doesn't hurt at all and proved to be worth it, despite people insulting our having nursed her for so long lol.

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  4. i remember those days...sometimes it's just easier to carry the baby on your own! someone once told me that drinking a little bit of apple cider every day is a cure all for muscle pain and cramps. i could never stomach it, but it might be worth it for you! best of luck.

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  5. Two birds..I'll look into it ;) I'm willing to try anything to feel better.

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  6. That sounds so painful!! Have the doctors looked into what is causing your muscles to continue to knot up like that? Have you tried yoga for deep stretching? Do sauna's help? It must be so frustrating to be in that kind of pain.

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  7. Yes yoga and stretching helps. I'm pretty sure I know the cause of the knots that are happening only on the right side. It's sort of like a Domino effect. When you have a knot, those muscle fibers are impaired which means the other muscles nearby have to compensate for the knotted ones, so those are getting strained too. As I mentioned, my daughter is 19 lbs. Thats basically a quarter of my body weight I'm lifting daily throughout the day.

    Also when the pain started I was really sleep deprived and not having enough time to fall into the REM part of sleep. During REM you cells and muscles work hardest at repairing themselves. I still have to wake up with the baby but only about once a night and I'm getting more sleep than I was a few months ago. I'm trying to remember to stretch as soon as I get out of bed to go pick her up. Even if it's in the middle of the night. It's hard when you are half asleep though lol.

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  8. Thank you for this informative post! I'm starting to get pain in my lower back {which is obviously normal} but it's good to be aware of the other potential side effects.

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  9. I'm so sorry to hear about your pain. I have a pinched nerve in my neck from a car accident that causes sholder/arm pain so I can relate somewhat. A possible idea for massage treatments: I got to Koala chiropractic. Each session, regardless of what is being treated, includes a mini-massage for that area. So for the cost of your co-pay you could get somewhat regular massage work. They also have full body massages for $65. And their therapists are more amazing than any pricey spa I have been to. My favorite is Molly at the downtown location who does appointments on Saturday afternoons (because she's busy with regular therapy sessions the rest of the week). Maybe check them out as a massage option.

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  10. I have been dealing with this muscle pain/pinched nerve since my son was 3 months, he's now 11 months. Just curious if this has gone away for you? I currently go to Physiotherapy, and it helps a little bit. Did weaning help?

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  15. I have always had knots in my back. They only go away when I see a chiropractor regularly. My baby is 8 weeks old and ever since I began breastfeeding I feel like there is a knot next to my left shoulder blade that is attached to my left nipple. I'm sure it's mostly posture but when feeding or pumping it hurts and it actually hurts all the time. I had a breast absess and was hospitalized at week 5 so I stopped breastfeeding, was pumping and dumping while on antibiotics and went back to saving the milk and now breastfeeding again (decided to only do this at night though) and pumping during the day. I need to get to my chiropractor I haven't been in 5 years but between not having a second car and not having $60 a week for co-pays (I'm sure he'll want me 3 visits a week at first), I just haven't gone. My chiropractor also had someone who issued lidocaine shots directly into the knots which released them. That was amazing. I recommend if you can find someone that does that to try it because it was the only way to get almost instant relief. It's safe for breastfeeding I've read because it goes into the knot. I'm also worried about x-rays during breastfeeding because I'm sure the chiropractor will want new ones to see how screwed up my back is. I hope you get relief soon.

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  16. It’s good to hear that you found a solution to ease your muscle pain. I think you could also use some liniment and rub them on the cramped muscles after you breastfeed, to help relax that area. It will also help if you stretch and flex your shoulders and neck, so as to release the pressure while breastfeeding or doing some heavy chores. All the best!

    Jackie Johnston @ New Life Chiropractic

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  17. That is a great reminder, Francis. Most of the time, the lactating mothers seem to ignore the pain they feel after breastfeeding their babies. While it’s not really a big deal, they should pay attention to muscle cramps. It might stiffen the muscles and joint eventually, and will eventually lead to a more pronounced pain.

    Mark Wallace @ Chiropractic Memphis

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  18. Thank you for sharing. I am experiencing pain already in week 3.

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  22. I realize this is an old post but I experienced the same thing. I developed a knot in my left trapezius. I woke up one morning after sleeping in an odd position and I had pain and a tugging in that area of my shoulder. I went to a sports medicine dr and was sent to therapy. I went through a couple of months of therapy that involved a heating pad, stretches and massage. This did take away my pain. The knot was still there. Now that it's almost a year later and I have a 3 month old, I'm dealing with the pain again. Ugh. I may try to do heat, stretching that I learned at therapy and a tennis ball massage. I also have a small frame and a big baby.

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  23. Going through this right now. It is very difficult to deal with a newborn when I am in constant pain. Also very depressing. Thanks for sharing your experience. I am trying bowen thearpy. After one session I feel a bit bwtter.Also doing some streches. Are there any that you would recommend?

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