Over half of pregnant women suffer from pain in their backs, joints and pelvis. And it’s no wonder – maintaining correct alignment is difficult as your abdominal muscles stretch, your centre of gravity moves forward and your joints loosen. You have to deal with unsteady balance, an overstressed back, the additional strain of extra weight and new proportions.
Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in balanced positions with the least amount of strain on your back. There are a lot of good reasons to straighten up – not least because of your comfort, it also helps the baby settle into an optimal fetal position.
Leading women’s health physio, Camilla Lawrence says:
Over 50% of pregnant women suffer from pain in their lower back and/or joints of their pelvis. And it’s not only a source of discomfort while you’re expecting, but can also influence your labour options and post-natal recovery.
Here are some tips for improving your pregnancy posture. For more information, talk to your doctor who can provide you with additional charts, tips and exercises to help you get stronger and stand taller for the next 9 months and beyond.
Stand Straight. Don’t be tempted to slouch or lean back. Imagine a string attached to the middle of your head pulling you upward. Your chin should be level with the ground. Make sure your shoulders drop naturally – if your head is positioned properly your shoulders should be in an automatic correct position. Gently pull in your abdomen. Pull in your buttocks – your centre of gravity should be directly over your hips. Don’t lock your knees – your feet should be shoulder length apart and your knees flexed slightly letting your thighs support more of your body weight. Finally, make sure your weight is spread out over your entire foot.
Rest and avoid standing for too long. In addition to back strain, this can impedee proper circulation and cause uncomfortable swelling in the ankles and feet.
Sit smart. Do not cross your legs and make sure you get up every half hour to stretch your legs. Choose an upright chair. Use a pillow behind your lower back if you need additional support. Use a foot stool if you need to ease pressure on your lower back. Camilla explains:
Low, soft sofas or chairs may look appealing at the end of the day but will frequently make back and pelvic pain worse, as they provide little support to your joints and are difficult to get out of.
Walk straight. Avoid swaying from side to side to reduce back and pelvic pain.
Listen to your body. If you are in pain, that is a signal to stop doing what you are doing and seek help or advice. The same goes for sleeping positions. Standard pregnancy advice is that you should avoid sleeping on your back after 4months. You will most likely only fall asleep in the position that is best for you.
Be active and don’t put on too much weight. Don’t diet to lose weight – a balanced diet will give you lots of variety and keep you strong. A healthy lifestyle will benefit your comfort as much as your function. Find a great antenatal yoga class to get in plenty of stretching exercises that will also strengthen your back. Walk if it doesn’t aggravate your pain.
Finally, use common sense. Avoid activities that aggravate pain. Don’t overdo it – working, hosting, cleaning, standing, eating, exercising – anything! Know your limits. Avoid lifting heavy things. And wear comfortable shoes that provide enough support.