Pregnancy brings four pronounced anatomical changes to a woman's body – postural collapse, abdominal compression, pelvic tilt and adding postural pounds. Nine months of increasing breast size and fetal development gradually moves disproportional weight to the front and behind the body’s midline, shifting the center of gravity and changing body alignment from head to toe.
When in postural collapse, stretched back muscles offer little support for the spine. The pelvic bowl tilts forward and postural pounds appear on the lower body. Spinal curves increase, causing a decrease in height. The greater the postural collapse, the greater the likelihood of joint pain and discomfort during pregnancy.
Postural collapse affects circulation. Blood flow and lymphatic drainage become restricted and nerves can be impinged. There can be numbness, tingling, coldness and pain in the arms and legs. Sciatica, swelling feet and headaches are common during pregnancy. Abdominal compression not only compresses internal organs, but a growing fetus. Further compression comes from within caused by fetal growth.
A woman’s good posture during pregnancy can mean the difference between feeling good or being uncomfortable, gaining postural pounds and avoiding fetal distress. Improving body alignment by practicing good habits of active standing, squatting and sitting can minimize the changes during pregnancy.
While you may be told to “take it easy” because you are pregnant, it is not a time to slip into a curled, sedentary lifestyle. It is the best time to walk, stretch and stay moving to minimize postural collapse.
Diane Whitacre, Structural Anatomist, RT ©2017