by Janelle Trippany DPT, CLT-LANA, PRPC, Lymphedema and Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist III, Valley Medical Center Rehabilitation Services
Good posture is always important, but during pregnancy it’s essential. As your belly expands during pregnancy, your center of gravity shifts. The natural tendency is to allow your pelvis to tilt forward, causing your lower back to have an increased curve, called lordosis. As this happens, your head and shoulders protrude forward as well. This change in your posture puts increased strain through the muscles of the back and can cause discomfort. Additionally, the hormone relaxin is working to lengthen and soften your ligaments to prepare for delivery. While relaxin does its job well, it can increase instability and worsen low back pain. Pregnancy is already uncomfortable with morning sickness, swollen ankles and stretching skin, so read on to take back pain off the list!
First, check your posture!
Stand upright looking in a mirror. What do you see? Do your neck and shoulders slump forward? Is there a large curve in your low back? Does your pelvis tilt forward? Are your knees locked? These are all signs of poor pregnancy posture. Follow these steps to improve your posture:
- Stand with your feet and legs straight, with your knees and toes pointing forward.
- Now, imagine there is a string on the top of your head. Think about someone pulling gently on the string. See yourself bringing your chin and shoulders back and down. Feel your belly pulling in gently and reducing the curve in your low back. Think about your pelvis tilting back to neutral and feel the slight bend in your knees.
Anytime you notice yourself slumping back into that poor position, imagine that string is giving you a little tug.
Sitting during pregnancy
- Desk: Try to sit up straight with your chin in a neutral position and your shoulders down and back. Your elbows should be resting at 90 degrees so that you don’t have to lift your shoulders while using the keyboard. Adjust your monitor so that you don’t have to tip your head up to see the screen. You can use a small pillow behind your back if that feels comfortable to you. You’ll want to keep both feet on the floor with your knees and hips at 90 degrees. If your feet don’t reach, use a short stool.
- Couch: Sitting upright with both feet on the ground is the ideal position, but admittedly is not always the most comfortable. Try the semi-reclined or side-lying positions below for relaxing.
Laying down during pregnancy
- You can lay on your back in a semi-reclined position by stacking pillows behind your head and back. You can also put some pillows under your knees.
- Laying on your side is a great position during pregnancy. Put a pillow between your knees to support your top leg and place a very thin pillow or folded towel under your belly to support the weight of the baby. You can also put a pillow behind your back for added support.
Lifting and bending during pregnancy
- If you’re carrying bags, split them up so you’re carrying an even amount in each hand.
- When moving an object, push it instead of pulling it. Use your legs, not your back and arms.
- Try squatting, kneeling or standing with one leg slightly in front of the other and bending the knees (think lunge position) rather than bending at the waist when picking things up.
- When getting out of bed, first roll to your side, bring your legs off and then use your arms to push up from the bed.
Valley Medical Center is proud to offer rehabilitation by specialized physical therapists for patients before, during and after their pregnancies. Please call 425.690.3650 for more information or visit valleymed.org/rehab.