Pregnancy exercises to prepare your body for breastfeeding


Breastfeeding can be a source of muscle pain and strain because in your attempts to get a proper latch it is easy to make the mistake of 'going down to baby' and not bringing baby 'up' to your breast.

As a result you curl forward around your baby every time you breastfeed and you forget everything else. But you can prepare for the rigors of feeding and mothering during your pregnancy and it is important to strengthen and stretch your back and to gain good upper body strength. Especially because babies get heavier as they grow.

These exercises and stretches can and should be done after baby as well. Gather a mat, small ball, large ball, foam noodle and a band and get started.

Neck release

You will need a small ball and wall.

  • Sit comfortably against the wall for support.
  • With a small overball tucked behind the nape of your neck, move your head from side to side with the ball, for as long as you feel comfortable doing it.
  • Use this relaxing time to tune into your baby and send lots of loving thoughts to him. If the ball is uncomfortable place a small towel over it for extra support.

Upright throw

You will need a band.

  • Sit on a chair in a basic sitting position – pull belly button to spine (to protect your back) and place your feet flat on the floor – hip-width apart.
  • Place the band under the arches of your feet. Cross the band in front of your shins and hold the ends in each hand.
  • Breathe in and as you breathe out lift your arms, elbows out to the sides (this works the shoulder and back muscles), and bring your hands to the level of your chest.
  • Pause, breathe in and then out, and slowly return to start position. The whole arm moves and works throughout this exercise.
  • Do eight repetitions.

Chest crossover

You will need a band.

  • Stand with your legs slightly more than hip-width apart and soften your knees.
  • Cross your forearms and grasp the band – wrists facing out.
  • Keep your elbows bent and at shoulder height. If you find this too uncomfortable, drop your arms below your chest.
  • With forearms crossed, slowly press the fists out.
  • Keep the wrists in line with forearms throughout the exercise.
  • Slowly return to start.
  • Remember you need to breathe in and out as you do this exercise.
  • Repeat eight times.

Shoulder lat raise

You will need a band.

The “lats” are the muscles that run from the armpits down the middle of the back, connecting along the spine. In this exercise, shoulder, upper back and lats work together against the resistance of the band.

  • Stand with your legs slightly more than hip-width apart. Wrap the two ends of the band around the hand placed on your left hip and the other hand in the loop on the band held away from your body, and elbow out to the side.
  • Slowly lift the arm away from your body in sideways movement, breathing in and out as you move through the exercise.
  • Lift up and then slowly release, keeping the repetitions smooth, continuous and controlled.

Releasing the back

You will need a small ball and noodle.

  • Lie on your back with a small inflatable ball that is not fully inflated tucked under your buttocks, and a foam noodle under the area of the upper back.
  • Keep your knees bent and stretch your arms out and up above the level of your head.
  • Roll your body slowly and gently forward and back in small movements.
  • During pregnancy do not stay on your back for longer than two minutes.
  • Once baby is born, do this for as long as you are comfortable.

Releasing and relaxing the neck and back

You will need a noodle.

  • With legs wide apart, place your knees onto a foam noodle.
  • Fold your upper body towards the floor and stretch out your arms in front of you on the floor. Your chest should be supported by the top of the foam noodle.
  • Hold this position for as long as feels comfortable.

Which exercises worked for you during pregnancy and helped prepare your body for breastfeeding? Share your comments with the Parent24 readers by emailing and we may publish them.

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