Here is the first post from my wife Caitlin, on pregant posture, who hopefully will begin writing regularly on the blog. I am very excited to add her voice to the mix as there is no one I trust more when it comes to matters of the body and the soul.
Wow, a baby’s growing, the body’s changing. It can feel great and it can start to hurt as a woman’s body adjusts. How can a pregnant woman avoid the common pain symptoms that arise? By paying attention to how she moves and stands and holds herself.
Here’s what’s going on: the spine starts to develop a deeper lumbar curve as the baby gets bigger. Women’s spines are meant for this to happen. So, many women tuck the pelvis under to alleviate this curve. Makes sense, right? Nope. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that tucking the pelvis can cause so much more pain in the long run. Most people have this tendency, pregnant or not, and pregnant women are at much greater risk for developing this posture because of the growing belly.
Here’s what to do: first develop awareness of your posture. Do you tuck under? Do you lean backward at the shoulders? Sometimes it’s hard to tell! So ask a friend or look in the mirror sideways. Do your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles line up? Most people end up with the hips slung forward while the body makes a shallow c shape from ankles to head. This might feel good and natural for the moment but actually can lead to more back pain and weaker abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. You’re going to want those to be strong for pregnancy, labor and recovery.
So the next step is to bring your body to alignment. Imagine a straight line coming down along the side seam of your body, and now connects ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles to that line so they stack up. Now that might feel really weird—like you’re leaning forward and your butt’s sticking out—but bear with me. Notice as you bring yourself into alignment what happens to your muscles. It should make your gluteus maximus muscles relax and flow downward rather than gripping and pulling up, and the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles should be gently toned. This tone might feel like more work than you’re used to if you’ve had this misaligned posture for a while, but the more you do it, the more strength you’ll gain.
If this causes discomfort in the lower back, then more actively engage the pelvic floor muscles—doing this rather than tucking under is a much more subtle action and much more balanced.
Now you’re ready to walk around and move through your day with much more freedom and ease. Next time I’ll share some exercises for pregnant women to develop a strong balanced body for pregnancy, birth and beyond!