An article by Taylor Broggie, Restorative Exercise™ Specialist-Certified Personal Trainer
We all know the common pregnancy posture: pelvis and belly pushed forward with hands resting on the low back. It’s so common that we’ve come to accept it as normal (inevitable), without realizing that many of the common complaints of pregnancy are directly related to this position. (A position you can change!) Back pain, swollen feet, diastasis recti, achey hips, high blood pressure, leaky pelvic floors, and even a pelvis that is “too small” for a vaginal birth are all common issues that can be helped or even completely resolved by improving your alignment. Alignment is the orientation of all the parts that allows everything to work the way it is intended to work with the least amount of damage. The first step to better alignment is simple and requires no extra time or money: change the way you stand. For decreased pain, improved strength and
This alignment point is applies to all humans, but it becomes even more important when you are pregnant. If you add 40 extra pounds to a frame that is unstable, you are going to notice pain or dysfunction at the “weakest link”. For example, maybe you stand with your pelvis thrusting forward and have occasional back pain. Then you get pregnant and have excruciating back pain. Is the pain cause by the pregnancy? No, it’s the result of putting extra weight on a skeleton that was already misaligned. Pregnancy magnifies whatever misalignment you had going into the pregnancy.
This is my dear friend Leanne about 38 weeks pregnant. She is such a good sport. (Fun fact- she actually went into labor an hour after I took these photos. Picture A: we have the typical pregnant posture. Imagine her hands on her lower back, belly pushing forward as she waddles along. (I say “imagine”, because Leanne worked so hard on her alignment during pregnancy that she never actually waddled.) Her pelvis is leaning forward and her torso is leaning back. Her pelvis is posteriorly tilted (aka, tailbone tucked under), her feet turned out, and her lumbar (low back) curve is distorted. Picture B: we have a beautifully stacked skeleton. Her ear, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle are all in a vertical line. She has a neutral pelvis with her rib cage stacked right on top and her feet straight.
Picture A: Typical Pregnancy Posture (Just say no.)
Picture B: Aligned and Pregnant (Gold star!)
A pregnant woman who stands like Picture A will likely have more pain along with the other previously mentioned issues. I’d like you to notice two very important things: the shape of her belly and the shape of her rear end. It’s ok, I asked her permission to have a bunch of strangers analyzing her very pregnant figure. Can you see that both her belly and her backside are completely different shape
Looking at the shape of Leanne’s body is a subjective assessment, but it illustrates an important underlying concept: How you stand affects your pregnancy, labor and delivery in very real ways.
1) Better baby positioning in utero. You are the container in which your baby lives. When you change your shape, you change the shape of your baby’s container, and the baby will adjust accordingly. How you stand during pregnancy can help (Picture B!) the baby to be in an optimal position for delivery. More on this here.
2) Appropriate pelvic floor tension. Standing with the pelvis in a post tilt (tucked under, like Picture A) causes excessive tension in the pelvic floor and inactive gluts. You want your pelvic floor to be relaxed enough to let a baby pass through more easily. You also want your pelvic floor to be strong enough to hold up your organs and hold in your pee. You need strong gluteal muscles to achieve this not too tight/not too loose pelvic floor muscle length. When you stand like Picture B, your gluts are being used all day long to hold you up and move you around. They will become as strong as they need to be to support your pregnant body and balance out the pelvic floor.
3) Increased birth space. The strong gluts mentioned above will pull the sacrum posterior (back), increasing the birth space (who doesn’t want that?). In addition to changing how you stand, you can also START squatting and STOP doing kegels. For more on squatting and pelvic floor health, read what the Alignment Monkey has to say.
For an extra challenge, try this online class that has a lot of one leg squatting: A Balanced Approach to Hip Strength.
Attend Taylor’s class at the Empower Your Birth conference to learn exercises and other tips for better alignment. She also teaches group Restorative Exercise™ classes and one-on-one sessions in Clarksville and Nashville. You can find more information and resources at anthologywellness.com.