Thank you to Simone Sarris, Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor, from Smart Health Training & Services. Simone facilitates the SmartBump program at Smart Health. 

Pain Post-Pregnancy

Do you ever get sore holding your baby, and not know why?  If your answer is yes, you are certainly not alone.

To understand this, we must go back to the beginning……The postural changes that your body goes through during pregnancy happen to stop you falling flat on your face!  As your tummy grows, your center of gravity shifts forwards, making you feel like you are going to topple over.   Instead of allowing this to happen, your body will intuitively change the center of gravity by shifting your chest backwards.   This will simultaneously increase your lumbar lordosis and thoracic kyphosis (make your upper back have a bigger hump and your lower back have a bigger arc).  Essentially, you are hanging back into your joints, and allowing a whole lot of muscular imbalances and weaknesses to develop.  Sounds horrendous, right?

So then with some kicking (on their behalf) and screaming (on both behalves) your little human is born.  Bits of gross followed by ridiculous love and bliss.

And then your body magically goes back to normal, right?  Wrong.  Because then, you spend your time nursing, carrying and feeding your little cherub, all of which, if not taught or trained otherwise, can encourage you to continue to adopt all of the postures that were causing you grief, whether or not you felt pain, in the first place.

85% of pregnant women will have some degree of back or pelvic pain during their pregnancy

40% of women will continue to report lower back and/or pelvic pain 6 months post delivery

20% of all women who experienced pelvic or lower back pain during their pregnancy will still have it 3 years later!

Several factors have ben identified as being linked with persistent postpartum back pain, including back pain before and/or during pregnancy, physically heavy work, and more than one pregnancy.   This certainly correlates with what I see clinically with my work as not only a Physiotherapist, but also a Pilates Practitioner, with a specific interest in Pre and Post natal women.  One of the most important parts of my job is identifying the postural insufficiencies, and then educating my “Mums” on what they are and how they can be corrected.  Clinically, I see this have a huge impact on the prevalence of pain and discomfort both throughout the pregnancy, but also importantly postnatally.

There are some helpful hints that I can offer to encourage correct alignment and posture as your body continues through its postnatal changes.

First and foremost, pain during pregnancy, or postnatally, although common, is not normal.  If you are experiencing pain, then please book yourself in to see your qualified healthcare professional for help.

  • When sitting, whether it is to feed, nurse, or even without your baby, be sure to use the backrest of the seat and sit upright, but supported by your chair.
  • Distribute weight evenly on your bottom
  • Align yourself as tall as possible up to the ceiling, and have your head stacked on top of ribs, on top of pelvis, and bringing your tummy in towards your back… try it now.

N.B.  A simple way to achieve this is imagine some fishing wire attached to the top of your head, and someone pulling you up by it.  This axial elongation is important for neutralising alignment.

  • When you add the load of your baby, make sure that you keep your shoulders relaxed away from your ears, and push your chest forwards into bubs, rather than sinking into your lower back and pelvis.
  • Change positions regularly, and get creative with ways to take pressure off your body
  • Appropriate supervised exercise is beneficial

Simone Sarris is a Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor with Smart Health Training & Services who facilitates the SmartBump program at Smart Health. 

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