Sit up straight! Stop slouching! Most people know the basics of “good posture” from childhood…usually thanks to a parent or teacher constantly reminding them of what constitutes acceptable posture.
What many people don’t know however, is that when you become pregnant, different aspects of your posture become important. As your baby grows, you will find your lower back arching more. As your breasts complete their fourth stage of maturation in preparation for supplying milk to your newborn, your shoulders will have a tendency to round forward. These changes to your center of gravity, combined with increased joint and ligament laxity thanks to our friend, the hormone relaxin, can all result in increased discomfort for you and, in later stages in pregnancy, pelvic imbalance that may limit your baby’s ability to maneuver into the proper position in preparation for birth. With all these new things to consider…what’s a new mom to do? Thankfully, unlike learning about carseat safety and cloth diaper selection for the first time, maintaining proper posture throughout your pregnancy is simple to learn with only a few key points to focus on.
Gently stretch the pectoral muscles on the front of the chest. This can be done by hanging your arm off the side of a bed or couch while lying face up (if lying face up is still comfortable and at your stage in pregnancy), only to the point of feeling a slight stretch – never to the point of feeling pain. This should be done daily.
Focus on strengthening the trapezius and rhomboid muscles on the upper part of your back. Strengthening this area helps to support the added weight of lactating breasts and should minimize the upper back and shoulder discomfort commonly experienced by breastfeeding mothers. To strengthen these muscles, focus on drawing your shoulder blades downward and back – squeezing them together. A common way to do this is to do “shoulder rolls.” To properly perform a shoulder roll, shrug up, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and then relax and drop your shoulders. Make a point to do 5 shoulder rolls every time you’re sitting at a stoplight, or after each nursing session, or at some other time that is easy for you to remember and you should notice a big difference within a week or so!
The final focus point is key to helping prevent pelvic imbalance, and is perhaps the simplest point to remember. The key is symmetry. Keeping the pelvis level is of utmost importance…no matter what you’re doing. Sitting, lifting, running, sleeping…whatever you happen to be doing, ask yourself “Is my pelvis neutral and level?” Something as simple as always sitting on one leg, always crossing the same leg, running on the same side of the street (if the sidewalk is inclined toward the street), sleeping without a pillow between your legs/knees, working at a desk that requires you to turn your upper body one way while your hips face a different direction…all these things can upset the symmetry of your pelvis leading to a Structural Shift that can potentially affect how much room your baby has to move and develop, not to mention cause you untold amounts of discomfort. So, from the moment you find out you’re pregnant….start thinking one word: symmetry.
If you follow the above 3 steps, you’re well on your way to a healthier pregnancy posture, which in turn helps you have a healthier, happier birth experience.
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