The human body is remarkable in many ways, and pregnancy magnifies the body's incredible capabilities as a new life develops. We know for many women, it is a joyful time, but it can bring challenges along the way as the body adapts and changes.
The softening of ligaments and weight increase can create stress on the body and cause postural changes. In addition, these adaptations can increase the pressure on joints, particularly the spine and pelvis which may result in frustrating aches and pains.
This blog shares more about the changes that can happen, along with some tips on supporting the body during pregnancy.
How does posture change during pregnancy?
A woman’s pregnancy journey is unique; therefore, the changes experienced by one will not necessarily be the same for another. Still, often when it comes to posture, a couple of areas can change due to hormones and altered mechanics. These are:
Lower body – The Pelvis
As the baby develops at the front of the pelvis and the bump grows, it can pull the pelvis forward into an anterior tilt. The change in pelvic position can increase the lower back curve, which can cause the buttocks to push out, and stomach to move forward.
Upper Body - The Chest
Every woman is different, but breasts can increase by one to two cup sizes during pregnancy. As the breasts grow, the weight can encourage the shoulders and upper spine to round forward, which is in the opposite direction of the natural curve of the spine1.
As the weight increases in both areas, it can impact the centre of gravity, which can take some time to get used to. As a result, many women can feel unsteady on their feet, especially during their latter stages. Due to the demand put on the body, it is no wonder that many women develop aches and pains, particularly around their lower and upper back.
What are the best ways to support the body?
Maintaining fitness by staying active during pregnancy benefits both the mother and baby, and will help them stay strong in a time of change.
Pilates classes tailored for pregnancy can be beneficial to maintain strength. But whether attending a formal class or not, focusing on the following areas can help:
General Postural Support
Avoiding sitting for prolonged periods, even if it is simply standing up and sitting back down, will help to reset posture and reduce tension through the spine. While sitting, ensuring the back is fully supported, and the buttocks pushed to the back of the chair with both feet on the ground will reduce slouching or twisting.
Lower Body - Glutes
The glute muscles assist in stabilising the pelvis and will offer support and strength as the baby grows. Exercises such as squats and lunges can help to target the glutes.
Upper Body - Back
To combat the rounded posture, engaging the muscles of the back and in between the shoulder blades is essential. Working these muscles will also help post-pregnancy, as holding the baby will certainly put a strain on this area. If at home, while standing, resting the arms by the side with palms up and open, and intentionally squeezing the muscles between the shoulder blades is a simple exercise to focus on. Using resistance is also useful, whether it be bands, free weights, or machines. Taking time to stretch through the chest area will create more ease around the upper body too.
There are many ways to support the body during pregnancy, and the above offers a simple place to start. As chiropractors, we are trained to work with women during pregnancy. When combined with gentle exercises and lifestyle guidance, chiropractic care provides a safe and gentle way to promote comfort and minimise aches and pains during pregnancy and after birth.
If you are wondering whether chiropractic can help you, feel free to get in touch, we would be happy to chat.
1. Medela. (2023). Breast changes from pregnancy to weaning. Retrieved from Medela: https://www.medela.co.uk/breastfeeding/mums-journey/breast-changes-pregnancy-to-weaning#:~:text=Every%20woman%20is%20different%2C%20but,make%20room%20for%20your%20baby.
The content of this blog is for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.