Healthy posture and movement are essential for everyone, but especially for mothers-to-be. Practicing healthy posture is one of the most important contributions to a healthy pregnancy. Proper body alignment decreases low back and neck discomfort symptoms and muscle fatigue. A chiropractic therapy team can educate on maintaining a healthy posture when standing, sitting, and lying down throughout pregnancy, alleviate any subluxations, maintain optimal alignment, and keep the muscles relaxed through massage techniques.
Table of Contents
Many changes occur in the musculoskeletal system during pregnancy for the growing fetus. This impacts posture, balance, and gait. Pregnancy posture can significantly influence the comfort and/or pain levels in the pregnant and postnatal body. This includes:
- Sleeping in the best position while pregnant.
- Sitting in the best position during pregnancy.
- These little changes and adjustments impact the health of the mother and baby.
Postural Changes During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, several factors work against maintaining correct and healthy alignment. For one, the baby’s weight causes the lower back to sway as the center of gravity shifts forward.
Increased Lumbar Lordosis
- The concave curvature in the spine can become more pronounced because of the forward pull of the growing fetus.
- This can result in a swayback position – lordosis.
- The sacrum tilts backward.
- The legs grow wider apart when standing.
Increased Cervical Lordosis
- The normal slight forward curvature of the spine in the neck or cervical area is called cervical lordosis.
- The growing fetus aggravates the forward pull on the neck.
- During pregnancy, the breasts grow, adding more weight to the thoracic or mid back, causing the neck curvature to get pulled forward and down.
- Both shoulders also move forward and inward.
These changes can lead to back problem symptoms/pain, sciatica, and other musculoskeletal disorders and conditions if left untreated.
Unhealthy Posture Happens Naturally
- The abdominal muscles become stretched as the baby grows.
- Hormone levels increase and cause joints and ligaments to loosen.
- The muscles cannot contract fully and keep the lower back in alignment.
Healthy Posture Requires Practice
Proper posture when standing. From top to bottom:
- Maintain a neutral gaze that looks straight ahead.
- Don’t bend the head too much forward or backward.
- Avoid twisting/bending movements whenever possible, or keep them to a minimum.
- The chest should be up, the core braced, and the shoulders back.
- The body weight is distributed evenly along the lower extremities.
- Contract abdominal and pelvic floor muscles during movements, as they support the stability of the pelvis and the trunk.
- When standing and having to hold the position for an extended period, use a box or stool to prop up one foot.
- For example, when washing dishes, the cabinet under the sink can rest the foot on the ledge.
- Switch position every 20 to 30 minutes.
Whether in the planning stages or the second or third trimester, it’s essential to keep postural health in mind. A chiropractor trained in the needs of pregnant women will use tables that adjust for a pregnant woman’s body, and they will use techniques that avoid unneeded pressure on the abdomen and provide safe exercises and stretches. Benefits of chiropractic include:
- Helps maintain a healthier pregnancy.
- Helps regulate symptoms of nausea.
- Relieves back, neck, discomfort symptoms, and pain.
- Relieves and reduces excess strain on muscles, ligaments, and joints.
- Spinal curvature exaggeration is corrected.
- The normal spine curvatures are restored and maintained.
As more women seek the benefits of chiropractic for pregnancy, more healthcare providers seek trained doctors of chiropractic to refer their pregnant patients. Discuss these options with your healthcare provider, and schedule a visit to Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic to check posture and biomechanics.
Chiropractic Pregnancy Treatment
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Fitzhugh, M L, and M NEWTON. “Posture in pregnancy.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology vol. 85 (1963): 1091-5. doi:10.1016/s0002-9378(16)35644-7
Gutke A, Ostgaard HC, Oberg B Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2006 Mar 1; 31(5):E149-55. Pelvic girdle pain and lumbar pain in pregnancy: a cohort study of the consequences in terms of health and functioning.
Schröder, Guido et al. “Impact of pregnancy on back pain and body posture in women.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 28,4 (2016): 1199-207. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.1199
Yoo, Hyunju, et al. “Changes in the spinal curvature, degree of pain, balance ability, and gait ability according to pregnancy period in pregnant and nonpregnant women.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 27,1 (2015): 279-84. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.279
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