Pregnancy and Posture

There was a study done in the 1970s that indicated that single pregnant women were less likely to suffer from pregnancy related back pain than married pregnant women.

What a bizarre correlation!

Yet it makes sense. The study indicated that unmarried pregnant women, in attempts to minimize and possibly hide their pregnancy, would engage their abdominal muscles more to reduce the size of their baby bump.

When I became pregnant with my first, I was quite overweight. Once I started to “show” I reveled in my belly. It was the first time I was proud of my body and belly: I was growing a baby that bump had a baby behind the mound of flesh.

By the end of my first pregnancy and for many months after, I was plagued with sciatica that often stopped me in my tracks. Acupuncture helped a little but it would come back within a few days. During my second and third pregnancies, I continued to be plagued by low back pain and sciatica. At times it was disabling.

Just weeks into my fourth and current pregnancy, I began getting tinges of sciatica again. Knowing the responsibility I have for my practice and my family, I decided to I would   not let sciatica and the baby belly get the best of me.

I had already overhauled my physical and emotional health and weighed 100 pounds less than I did when I became pregnant with my first baby. Yet, clearly, the new pregnancy hormones were letting me know that my pelvis was not very stable and would scream at me with sciatica if I did not stabilize it.

Fortunately I came across  Elizabeth Jones is  a Master Pilates Teacher and Movement Educator, she has trained a number of the exceptional pilates instructors in Spokane. Her experience with pilates enabled her to have four healthy pregnancies and natural births, in spite of M.D.s telling her she would never be able to endure pregnancy and childbirth following two back surgeries.

She has written a book and companion DVD Exercise for Pregnancy and Beyond. It is a pilates based approach to supporting women throughout all stages of pregnancy and postpartum.

The work I have done directly with Elizabeth and through reviewing and following her book and DVD have helped make this one of my most comfortable and vital pregnancies so far. In addition to improving physical comfort during pregnancy, these exercises can help improve and shorten labor and delivery and postpartum recovery.

There are many facets of life that are challenging. Pregnancy, childbirth and early postpartum are certainly some of them. Yet when we avail ourselves to holistic resources and rely on our mind-body-spirit’s innate wisdom, even the most daunting tasks become opportunities for growth and inspiration.

I am grateful to have added Elizabeth’s wisdom and expertise to my box of self help and healing tools.

As a general guideline: Healthful posture involves ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips and hips over knees and ankles. Weight should be evenly distributed over the balls of the feet and heel with an imaginary magnet between the ankles so that feet are not splayed out or too far in. The pelvic floor and core muscles should be engaged. Good posture is essential for all stages of life. (In fact the ear, shoulder, hip alignment of baby is a key for successful breastfeeding.)

I find my posture is best earlier in the day and then it may digress as the day proceeds and my energy wanes. Yet maintaining a mindful posture throughout the day helps keep my energy stable and certainly keeps my back and hips happier.

The following pictures were taken today. In the first photo am mindful of my alignment and my floor and core are engaged. My baby is nicely cradled. In the second photo my floor and core are limp, which throws everything out of balance and it looks like baby could fall out, not good for mama or baby.

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