Written by : Dr.M.D.Mazumdar, MD
A woman's body undergoes profound changes during pregnancy. This causes a change in the posture to enable the body to carry the weight of the baby as well as the fat distribution in the different parts of the body.
As the baby increases in size during pregnancy, the pelvis tilts back to maintain the centre of gravity and prevent the body from falling forwards. The pubic bone and tailbone move backward, increasing the arch in the lower back. This is known as the pelvic tilt.
To compensate for the increased arch of the lower back, the upper back (the thorax) curves backwards, rounding the shoulders and collapsing the chest. The head slightly tilts forwards.
The rounded shoulders and the arched lower back increases the overall S-curve of the spine, a posture konwn as the Lordosis of Pregnancy. Lordosis increases in later pregnancy causing the typical swayback and waddling gait of pregnancy . It also causes the lower backpain so common in pregnant women.
Hormones like relaxin, progesterone, and estrogen causes relaxation of the joints, ligaments and muscles,to make them more supple for the expanding uterus and mobilise the hips for delivery. This affects the posture further.
Unfortunately, these changes do not go away as soon as childbirth occurs.
After childbirth, the body needs to be kept in a correct posture during all activities to help the spine to re-align and get back to the normal curvatures.
The postpartum period is the time when the woman has not totally recovered from the stress and strain placed on her body by pregnancy and labour.
Yet, this is the time when she has to look after her baby - feed, bathe, lift and take care of everything else as well.
Wrong posture can cause back pain, knee pain and pain at various parts of the body.
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Corrrect and incorrect postures are shown in the images below. It should be noted that the back should be held straight at all times to prevent backache. Standing against a wall so that the back of the head, the shoulders, the hips and the calf touches the wall helps to check that the back is straight.
While breastfeeding, the baby should be held in the arm so that the mother's spine remains straight. Slouching over the baby curves the upper spine and can increase backache.
The movement should be from the knees rather than the backbone. Bending forwards and down to lift the baby from the bed or from a lower level puts excessive strain on the ligaments and muscles of the back and abdomen.
The baby should be placed on a height so that the clothes can be changed while the mother is standing up. Stooping to change the clothes is a bad posture and can can cause severe lower backache.
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