As any mother knows, pregnancy is a time of amazing changes. Not only does a baby grow from a single cell to a human being ready for life, but the mother's body also makes amazing changes too. An important aspect of these changes are changes to her posture.
During pregnancy the foetus grows in size and the fluids which support the growing child also increase. As we know, these changes result in a significantly enlarged uterus. As the uterus grows in size and volume so the rest of the body has to accommodate these changes. The lower spine becomes more curved forwards, the pelvis tends to tip forwards and these changes alter the posture of the upper spine, neck and shoulders.
If this is a second (or greater) pregnancy then the likelihood is that the postural changes will be greater as the ligaments and muscles are often not as well toned. The bigger the 'bump' the greater the postural demands will be. Do remember that a big bump does not necessarily mean a very big baby as the fluid volume can be large with a smaller baby.
Tips and Advice for Pregnant Mums
1. Acknowledge when you are tired and get plenty of rest. This rest is not only good for your back and muscles, but due to the greater physiological demands to feed a growing baby you will need greater rest. Also when tired you are less likely to notice when you are over working your back.
2. Do spinal and pelvic tilting exercises: Stand and tip your pelvis towards your navel, then relax. Do this 5-10 times then rest. Repeat 3 x daily. This will encourage a better carriage of 'the bump' and reduce back ache.
3. Be mindful of your neck and shoulder posture. As your lower spine increases its curvature, there will be a tendency to over flex the base of your neck. Do your best to be conscious of this happening and lengthen your neck (as if a hook was inserted into the top of your head and suspending you from the ceiling) to correct it.
4. Sit well supported in chairs or if sitting up in bed - especially in the third trimester. As discussed above, the lumbar spine will become more curved as the bump enlarges needing more support. SO keep some good cushions and pillows near your favorite chairs and take some to work for your office chair.
5. If you go to work though your pregnancy make sure you adjust the settings of your chair - see advice on 'adjusting your car seat' and apply this to your office chair too.
6. A regular osteopathic check up to make sure your spine is coping well with the demands of pregnancy is highly beneficial. During such visits treatment will also be given to ensure the pelvis tissues are getting ready for the 'big event' in the best way possible.
7. Do strongly consider bringing your baby along for an osteopathic consultation, when convenient after the birth. The birth journey does leave strains and stresses on the baby's tissues and your baby can suffer stress as a result. An osteopathic check up for both baby and Mum (to ensure Mum's pelvis settles back to its pre- pregnant state as effortlessly as possible) is highly advisable.