POS­TURE IN Preg­nancy

Dur­ing preg­nancy, your body goes through many changes – one of which is your cen­tre of grav­ity, which af­fects your pos­ture. Tina Otte gives her ad­vice on how to main­tain cor­rect pos­ture, so you can ease those aches and pains

Your Pregnancy - - Pregnancy Files -

YOUR SPINE IS a clev­erly de­signed sup­port sys­tem. Like the spine of a book, it con­nects and holds the body to­gether. Ev­ery mus­cle is de­pen­dent on the spine in some way. When your back hurts, it af­fects many other parts of your body and can cause you to be­come tired and grumpy. Anx­i­ety and stress fre­quently man­i­fest in our backs. Cop­ing with life be­comes dif­fi­cult, never mind deal­ing with the added stress of a preg­nancy.

YOUR BACK IN PREG­NANCY

Dur­ing preg­nancy, your belly seems to pull your body for­ward, so that the spine as­sumes a greater curve than nor­mal. The lower back (the lum­ber spine) be­comes more con­cave, while the up­per back be­comes more rounded. This causes the lower back muscles to shorten and weaken and there­fore places great strain on the en­tire back. There’s a nat­u­ral ten­dency to sway back onto your heels as your cen­tre of grav­ity moves back. As your uterus and baby grow they put pres­sure on your ab­dom­i­nal muscles, which are the main sup­port­ers of the back. If these muscles are weak and give way, it al­lows an ex­ag­ger­ated curve in the lum­bar area, which means the nat­u­ral curve will be more pro­nounced and there will be more pres­sure in this area. Your pelvis tips for­ward and your but­tocks pop out­ward, ex­ag­ger­at­ing the slight

fig­ure “S” your spine usu­ally has. It can hurt across your shoul­ders, be­cause of the for­ward pull of your breasts and chin. Your rib cage is under pres­sure from your slouch­ing shoul­ders and chest, so breath­ing be­comes more dif­fi­cult. A weak­ened pelvic floor and short, tight ham­string muscles also play their part in adding to the strain your back takes. Me­chan­i­cally, all this is hap­pen­ing while hor­mon­ally, other things are go­ing on. The hor­mones are re­spon­si­ble for caus­ing the strong lig­a­ments that sup­port all these bones and muscles to soften and loosen. Re­laxin is the main cul­prit here, as it pre­pares the pelvis to re­lax and ac­com­mo­date your grow­ing baby, as well as open up a thor­ough­fare dur­ing labour and de­liv­ery. As well as adding to your back­ache woes, it can make you feel a lit­tle un­steady on your feet and a bit clumsy as you go about your day.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR BACK

Your pos­ture is never more im­por­tant than when you’re preg­nant. Bad pos­ture doesn’t only give you a pain in the neck (and back) but also con­trib­utes to joint pain, rib dis­com­fort, cir­cu­la­tion, sore feet and fa­tigue. Bad pos­ture means that your body isn’t “stacked” the way it should be, and some muscles are over­strain­ing while oth­ers are too loose and re­laxed. So, you need to be­come more aware of your pos­ture. To find a good pos­ture, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your side. Your weight should be evenly dis­trib­uted be­tween your feet. Stand tall and lengthen your neck. Your chin should be pulled back and not pok­ing for­ward. Try to imag­ine you have a string pulling you up through the top of your head. Your shoul­ders and ribcage should be lifted up and back, and when you stand, try to tuck in your bot­tom so that you feel your tummy muscles work­ing to sup­port your spine. Make sure you don’t tighten your shoul­ders. Look straight ahead and keep your chin par­al­lel to the floor.

OTHER TIPS

Al­though back pain is the most com­mon preg­nancy nig­gle, it’s eas­ily man­aged if you try to change some of your bad pos­tu­ral habits, be­come fit­ter and stronger, and learn how to re­lax. En­rol in a pre­na­tal ex­er­cise class that fo­cuses on build­ing the strength and sup­ple­ness of the preg­nant body. Change your en­vi­ron­ment to ease the work­load on your back. Mas­sage is a won­der­ful way to ease pain and ten­sion in an aching back. Use heat to ease spasm. Visit an os­teopath, chi­ro­prac­tor or phys­io­ther­a­pist for treat­ments if the pain is in­tol­er­a­ble. Main­tain ex­cel­lent nu­tri­tion. This will boost your en­ergy lev­els. Lastly, don’t take your back for granted. It’s the coat hanger that your body clings to, so take good care of it. It can’t be re­placed.

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