Hollie Grant, founder of The Bump Plan, explains the importance of good posture during pregnancy, how your posture may change and what you can do to ease tension on your body.
There’s no denying your body goes through a whole lot during pregnancy. You are growing a whole human inside you, so it’s no wonder all manner of changes and stresses on your body can occur. As your bump grows with your baby, your posture can also be affected during pregnancy. Hollie Grant, founder of The Bump Plan, has shared some top tips for keeping check of your posture during pregnancy and explains the benefits of good posture in the run up to labour.
Why is it so important to keep check of your posture during pregnancy?
“During pregnancy a combination of hormonal and mechanical changes take place that can rapidly alter our posture,” says Hollie.
“Given that our bodies are used to working cohesively with our current posture, these changes can lead to discomfort, aches and pains [during pregnancy]. And it’s no wonder that we feel these things – by the end of your pregnancy your bump can weigh more than 5kg. Imagine strapping a dumbbell of that size to the front of your pelvis all day, it would be pretty tiring.”
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What are the biggest changes to your posture you might notice during pregnancy?
Hollie has pinpointed two main postural changes that can take place during pregnancy: the positioning of the pelvis and movement in the chest (which can effect the shoulders and upper back).
“If we think of where our bumps sit, they are essentially at the front of the pelvis,” explains Hollie.
“The weight of your bump can pull the pelvis forward into an anterior tilt and many women feel this as tension in their lower backs.”
Speaking about changes to the chest area in pregnancy, Hollie adds: “Our breasts can grow by two to three cup sizes during pregnancy and this can feel pretty heavy. As the breasts grow (and potentially get tender) we can start to round the shoulders, or round the upper back, causing a more hunched posture type.”
After nearly two years of lockdowns, many of us are more sedentary than ever and Hollie has revealed she’s finding that many women are less active than previously.
“Inactivity is not ideal during pregnancy and we want women to feel comfortable and safe to exercise,” she adds.
Working from home can prove a challenge for maintaining good posture too.
“Many of us have had to create new ‘desks’ from dining tables, sofas or even beds, and these will not be in the right ergonomic set up for most women. When we consider that a lot of us are at our desks for six or seven hours a day, this can have a massive effect on our posture!”
What can these postural changes mean four your body? and your mind?
“Pregnancy related lower back pain is thought to affect over 50% of pregnant women, and as the name suggests it really isn’t enjoyable for anyone!”
As with any kind of pain or stress on our bodies, this back pain during pregnancy can take a real toll on a mum-to-be’s mood. It can even make it difficult or near-impossible for pregnant women to move – which will only worsen symptoms and the impact on their mental health.
“Staying active during pregnancy has massive health benefits and ensuring we have good posture, and strong functional muscles, can really help us continue doing what we love,” Hollie reveals.
What are the common signs of poor posture during pregnancy?
“The easiest, and quickest, way to assess someone’s posture is to look at the shape of their spine as this is where most postural issues will show up.
“The curves of the spine should be gentle, and smooth. However many of the clients I see initially have a very deep curve in their upper back (we call this Kyphosis) or in their lower back (we call this lordosis). These excessive curves usually cause back pain, but not always,” Hollie, who’s holistic pre-natal fitness plan – The Bump Plan – also includes strengthening exercises to adjust to and prepare for these postural changes, explains.
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Can these lead to other health problems?
Kyphosis, this deep curvature in the upper back, can lead to breathing difficulties during pregnancy. If someone is hunched for long periods of time, they’re unable to really open up the chest and, eventually, will struggle to take in deep breaths or use the lungs to their maximum capacity. It can also cause the shoulders to round and the upper back to feel strain.
The excessive curve in the lower back, lordosis – which can feel as though you are sticking out your bum and your tummy – can lead to pressure on the lumbar vertebrae and a fair amount of tension pain. This pain can also radiate down the legs.
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What exercises can we do to maintain good posture during pregnancy?
“We all have our own posture ‘type’ and no two postures are the same,” Hollie explains. “But if we think about the areas of the body that will be under the greatest demand during pregnancy we can target those specifically.”
“The glutes are the muscles that help to support the weight of your growing baby. They will aim to hold the pelvis in position, as your bump gets heavier. It’s therefore really important that you keep your glutes active and functional during pregnancy with exercises such as squats, lunges, adapted deadlifts and clams.”
The Upper Back
“This part of the body is helping to support your growing boobs and bump, plus our modern-day lifestyles encourage a pretty rounded upper back as it is. So, maintaining strength in the upper back will really help encourage good posture during pregnancy. When the babies arrive we will be holding them A LOT, and they are heavy, so preparation for that is key. Exercises like rowing, reverse pec flies, thoracic extension, and superman can really help!”