Let’s face it, most people don’t have the best posture to begin with. Unless you happened to attend an old-timey finishing school where you were forced to walk around balancing a book on your head, chances are good you’re one of the many adults that slouches and suffers from back and neck pain as a result. And when you discover that you’re pregnant, you’re in for even more problems. As your body puts on weight, your posture is likely to get even worse – that is, of course, unless you become aware of the changes that your body is undergoing. If you do, you can take steps to keep your back aligned (biomechanically speaking) and correct the posture issues contributing to the decline in your spinal health.
You obviously want to maintain your overall health as much as possible for the benefit of your baby, but also for yourself. The way you position your body during pregnancy, during both waking and sleeping hours, can help to ease the heavy burden you’ll carry for the next several months, keeping you as comfortable as possible throughout the process. If you’re looking for ways to ensure a smooth(er) pregnancy, the following are just a few sleep positions and posture basics to get you started.
Sleep on Your Left Side
If you’ve read any literature pertaining to what you should expect when you’re expecting, you’ve no doubt discovered that sleeping on your stomach is a major no-no. Well, that’s just common sense. You might be more surprised, though, to learn that you should also avoid sleeping on your back. As your baby grows and you gain weight, this position can lead to labored breathing and pressure on internal organs. Sleeping on your side is best and sleeping on your left side is actually better than the right. This position aids circulation and it stops the growing baby inside you from putting undue pressure on your liver all night long.
As a side note, proper posture and spinal alignment during slumber can generally be better maintained by sleeping with a body pillow (click here for a Structurally approved body pillow). Place it between your knees and arms to keep your body in the most desirable and comfortable position.
Stand Up Straight
If you don’t want to end up looking like Igor or Quasimodo in your twilight years (don’t get me wrong, I do love them both), you should probably strive to stand up straight all of the time, but it is especially important to observe proper posture when you’re pregnant and you have an extra 20 to 40 pounds weighing you down. Standing up straight does require some amount of attention to detail, and because practice makes perfect, here are a few points to keep in mind where posture is concerned.
Hold your head straight and try to keep your earlobes aligned with your shoulders (as viewed from the side). Keep your shoulder blades pulled back (but not up – be mindful of shrugging your shoulders up as it will increase the tension in your neck). Pull your stomach up and in, and tuck your pelvis so that your back doesn’t arch. Point your feet forward and don’t lock your knees. These are the “basics”. And when you’re pregnant, try to move around frequently rather than standing in the same spot for any great duration. As always, I will gladly teach this to you during one of our complimentary consultations along with explaining how Webster technique may be able to help you.
Sit Up Straight
Sitting is seen by most patients as a chance to relax, but sinking into your favorite La-Z-Boy is nothing but an excuse to slouch. If you want to preserve your spinal health during pregnancy, it’s important that you sit up straight. If you’re having trouble doing so, try to sit in straight-back chairs and add lumbar support in the form of a lumbar pillow as mentioned below.
Support Your Lower Back
Okay, remembering to sit and stand tall is all well and good, but it does take some work. Luckily, you can cheat a bit by using lumbar support, at least when sitting. You will not find a shortage of pregnancy-related products, and that includes pillows. But you need not shell out beaucoup bucks for a specialty pillow. A sturdy bolster or even a rolled towel will do the trick. Simply position it behind your lower back when sitting for an extra measure of support. This will help you relax and feel comfortable while still maintaining proper posture. If you want an inexpensive lumbar support, HERE is an Amazon link.
Try Pregnancy Yoga
If you’re looking for ways to strengthen the areas around your belly, pregnancy yoga can be a godsend. Gentle stretching will help to relieve the aches and pains of pregnancy, while also improving circulation and minimizing swelling. Yoga routines will strengthen key areas of the body. This will allow you body to better withstand the increased burden of gravity as your baby grows.
There you have it. Just a few tips to help make your pregnancy (or someone you care about) a little more comfortable.
As a perinatal and pediatric trained chiropractor, I understand that pregnancy can come with some “different” sensations. I offer complimentary consultations to discuss structural correction and/ or Webster technique during your pregnancy. Please share with moms, moms to be and aspiring moms as they all deserve know these easy tips.