Pregnancy is a time of great change for mothers-to-be when their body swells with the growth of life within them. This is a time of great excitement and anticipation but also present several problems which they had to faced for the next few months of physical changes.
To all mothers-to-be, back pain, sciatica, heartburn, swollen ankles and insomnia are some of the common problems which they can faced to certain degree. In fact, back pain during pregnancy occurs in 53% to 72% of pregnancy women as the baby grows. The body at this stage will have physical changes so as to make room for the growing baby which leads to physical stress on the body. Therefore, during the pregnancy period, most women will realize that they had difficulties in finding ease or comfort in their daily routine activities or a good night sleep.
Most women are not aware that back pain can be alleviated, at least in part, by using the body’s natural design to support the many changes to their body over the coming months. Many research studies indicated that babies are more likely to thrive when they are born to a mother who has taken good care of herself during the pregnancy period and who is comfortable and relaxed with what is happening to her.
Chances are good that a woman who is relaxed and comfortable during her pregnancy will be more likely to have an uncomplicated delivery and move into motherhood with greater ease. Among other things, this requires self-awareness and a healthy body that conforms to its natural design.
Why Does Back Pain Occurs During Pregnancy?
As the baby grows bigger within the uterus, the weight that is added on to the front of the mother-to-be has the potential to throw her off balance, especially if her bones are not aligned to begin with, which is, sadly, the case with so many expectant mothers in today’s modern society.
This misalignment causes their center of gravity to be somewhat higher, causing them to lean backward above the waist as the baby grows bigger in the front. As such, it causes the spine to be compressed and puts tremendous stress on the lower back. Not only does this frequently causes back pain, it can also affect the easy flow of blood, lymph and other fluids that are not only important for the mother’s health and comfort but for that of the baby as well.
In fact, it has become common for a mother-to-be to be displaced forward of the axis, just at a time when she needs her body’s inherent support more than ever. Excessive arching of the lower back (lordosis) and an opposite rounding of the upper back (kyphosis) can be the cause of back pain, restricted blood flow as well as impingement on the diaphragm and its ability to function most efficiently.
Other than the back problems that are caused by this typical pregnant stance, the internal organs that are already crowded by the growing fetus can become even more compressed by the faulty posture. This can also lead to a whole host of digestive problems, shortness of breath and fatigue.
What Should You Do To Avoid Back Pain During Pregnancy?
However, a mother-to-be can learn how to counteract this tendency by applying basic principles of alignment that may save her back and allow her to have a far more enjoyable pregnancy. A pregnant woman can learn how to call upon her inherent skeletal alignment and deep core of internal support to do the work of holding her up in a way that is comfortable and gives relief from many of the most common problems women experience, especially during the most challenging last months of pregnancy.
When her bones are aligned, the core muscles actually function like a hammock that cradles the baby from below and helps hold baby and belly in place. The body of a pregnant woman should line up along the vertical axis. This allows the baby to fit compactly into the uterus, held in place by firm, elastic muscles. The mother’s back should be long and open, not arched and tight.
Holding the belly out to the front, forward of the axis, is the primary cause of the back pain that so many pregnant woman is experiencing. This also gives them a shape that is not that of a naturally ripening pregnant belly but the shape of a larger-than-natural, ballooning belly that is often characteristics of a host of stresses pregnant women experience.
From the above diagram, on the right, the woman’s skeleton is forward of the axis, pushing her belly and the baby out in front of her. On the left, she is in the proper, aligned stance that is best for mother and baby.
Sitting in a natural position becomes doubly important for the woman who carries an almost full-term baby in her belly. When she sits without the direct support of her sitz bones, but instead with her pelvis tilted backward her torso collapses throughout.
Gravity bears downward, pushing the weight of the fetus , placenta and amniotic fluids onto the mother’s internal organs. Breathing is somewhat restricted when the diaphragm gets pinched and crowded in this position. It is not difficult to understand why pregnant women complain so often of back pain, heartburn, constipation, fluid retention and shortness of breath.
However, the mother-to-be who sits on her sitz bones and lets her spine support her torso is far less likely to experience these difficulties. It is not difficult to see why, because the baby is supported from below by the cross fibers of the transverses abdominis and oblique muscles and does not push down on the mother’s organs from above.
From the diagram above, sitting back on the pelvis as shown on the left is likely to cause much discomfort as the weight of the baby is not properly supported. Sitting as shown on the right is good practice for keeping the floor of the pelvis open and relaxed, which will be an important detail during the birthing of her baby.
Knowing how to sit, stand and bend is important for anyone but most especially so for the pregnant woman who is actively moving for two. By taking her cue from toddlers who demonstrate how to move in an easy and natural way, she will greatly enhance her ability to enjoy her time being pregnant. In addition, knowing which comfortable positions she can take for sleeping and resting will provide her with ways to practice the important art of relaxing in preparation for the big day.
Preparation for labor and delivery is greatly enhanced by knowing how to sit and squat in natural ways as well as how to release the pelvic floor. These are made possible by having the pelvis in the natural anteverted position throughout the whole pregnancy. Most of all, those same deep core muscles that have supported the baby in the womb will now come into play to bear down and move the baby through an open, aligned birth canal. In fact, a laboring woman’s ability to relax greatly increases her chances for having a natural birth, the best kind of experience for her and her baby.
Perhaps nothing interferes more with the natural process of a baby being born than the mother’s body having to work against its natural design. A backward-tilted pelvis tightens all the wrong muscles and interferes with the ability of the core muscles to help push the baby out. Instead of the baby being set up to open and release, all the messages it is getting are about closing up and holding on.
For this reason, any exercises done during pregnancy should adhere to the basic principles of natural alignment and emphasize both the core that will give the baby a boost on its way into the world and the mother’s ability to “line up all the parts” and then relax and allow it all to happen.
A physically easeful pregnancy sets the stage for a complication-free delivery. A mother-to-be who is not overcome by back pain, heartburn and fatigue throughout her pregnancy is far more likely to have a birth experience for herself and her baby that reflects the ease with which she move through the preceding nine months.
Certainly, some complications occur that are beyond anyone’s control. Nevertheless, many problems can be avoided when a woman conforms to and reinforces how her baby is constructed to reproduce the same natural labor and delivery experienced by billions of mothers and babies throughout the ages.
How To Avoid Back Pain When Lifting Or Carrying the Baby
For all the relief and unbounded joy that often comes from finally having her baby in her arms, a new mother faces many other new challenges. One of these is how to comfortably lift and carry the baby, who only gets heavier with each passing day. Baby carriers that allow a mother or father to “wear” their baby come in handy at this stage and are of great benefit to parents and babies alike.
Breastfeeding, for all its many advantages, is very time consuming and can be a trying experience for a new mother if her back and neck are aching and tense. Knowing how to use her bones and her core muscles to help with lifting and holding the baby will greatly enhance the experience for everyone.
On the left diagram, carrying the baby on her hip while leaning back causes this mother to move out of alignment and will soon became uncomfortable.
On the right diagram, by holding her baby close to her body and remaining in an aligned stance, this new mother will have a much more enjoyable experience, greatly reducing the potential for neck and back pain.
Approximately, 30% of women experience a condition called diastasis recti, a separation of the rectus abdominis muscle, the most superficial of the four layers of abdominal muscles. Connecting the 2 sides of this muscle is a thick, fibrous band called linea alba, which runs vertically from the xyphoid process at the base of the sternum to the pubis symphysis. This band becomes overstretched in some women, especially those with a posteriorly tilted rib cage, as the baby grows and the uterus pushed against the muscle, leading to weakness in the wall postpartum.
With time, the overstretched rectus abdominis muscle can be repaired, not by exercising it directly, but by strengthening the deeper transverses abdominis. As this muscle firms up in tone, its horizontal fibers have the effect of cinching the waist, like tightening a deeply internal belt or drawing together the strings on a purse. For this reason, the trans ab could also be called the “slimming muscle” with extra benefits for any and all women concerned about a widening waist.
Diastasis recti si yet another area waiting to be studied, and it would not be surprising to discover that this condition is far less prevalent in rural places in the world where childbearing women typically remain more aligned and supported by a stable core. Women’s bodies are designed to withstand the rigors of a normal pregnancy, and while there are certainly exceptions to this, diastasis recti appears to be more common than it should be.