After the mental and physical changes brought on by pregnancy, the last thing that a new mother wants to experience is pain in her wrists and hands from nursing or feeding her newborn baby. Getting an infant to latch on can be hard enough under normal conditions, and yet the feeling of “pins and needles” or wrist pain, can makes things even more difficult.
There are several reasons that new mothers may begin to experience hand and wrist pain. During pregnancy, most women experience swelling and edema throughout their body, especially in the latter months of pregnancy, due to changing hormones. This increased fluid in the body also leads to increased pressure in the carpal tunnel, which can cause tingling and numbness in the thumb, index, and middle fingers, along with burning and pain when pressure is put on the median nerve. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months after delivery for symptoms to resolve, but does usually resolve on its own. New mothers are tasked to complete many repetitive motions when picking up an infant from washing bottles to washing and folding lots of tiny baby clothes all while attending to the needs of their infant and potentially other children as well. These repetitive motions, along with sustained postures of prolonged bent wrists when nursing, can contribute to increased pain in a new mother’s wrist and thumbs.
As we approach Mother’s Day, Athletico would like to thank all Mothers out there for all the thankless work they do every day and all year long. For the new mothers or mothers-to-be, we’d like to pass on a few tips to help prevent or stop pain in your hands when nursing your newborn:
Lastly, if you are still not comfortable, consider talking with a lactation consultant, or consider a free assessment or telehealth visit with an Athletico therapist to assist in resolving your symptoms.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
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Wand, J., (1998) The natural history ofo carpal tunnel syndrome in lactation. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Jun;82:349-350.
Bonyata, K., Carpal tunnel syndrome in breastfeeding mothers. Retrieved from ttps://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mother/carpal-tunnel-bf/
Shepherd, S., (2016) How to prevent wrist pain while breastfeeding. Retrieved from https://www.todaysparent.com/baby/breastfeeding/how-to-prevent-wrist-pain-while-breastfeeding/
Schiedel, B., (2018) Do you really need a nursing pillow? Retrieved from https://www.todaysparent.com/baby/breastfeeding/nursing-pillow/