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Posture, core strength and back care in pregnancy

Pregnant woman sitting on fit ball holding her back in painOne of the biggest complaints you will hear when a woman is pregnant is about back pain.

The task of growing a baby inside you is taxing on your body – especially as you and the baby get bigger, because your posture will naturally change as you bear the extra weight.

Because of this change in posture, your back will begin to ache and give you grief until bub is born, and your body can start getting back to normal.

It is important that you take care of your back during your pregnancy, so your posture can stay as good as possible and your core strength can support you through your pregnancy.

Postural awareness and strengthening

Postural alignment is important during pregnancy to reduce the load on the low back.  Low back pain is typical in many pregnant women. The loose ligaments in structures supporting the back, together with the increase in forward tilt of the pelvis due to increased weight at the front of the body will be placing more stress on the back.

Being aware of posture as much as possible and trying not to allow the pelvis to fall into a forward tilt (where the top of your pelvis tilts forward, making your belly and bottom stick out more) will help reduce the likelihood of serious back pain. Gentle bracing of the core muscles will also offer support for the back and help with posture.

Back care during pregnancy

During pregnancy it is even more important to ensure that you care for your back. You should always maintain a neutral (straight) spine when lifting and use the legs to bend down if picking up a loaded weight. Don’t flex forward through the back.

  • Be conservative about how much you lift. It’s better to take more trips to and from the car to unload bags of groceries than to overload the body. Don’t lift heavy weights – including toddlers (if your toddler needs a cuddle try sitting down first)!
  • When doing tasks like vacuuming use the legs for the forward and backward motion rather than bending into the task.
  • Don’t twist the back when you are carrying a load.
  • When performing household or gardening tasks, rather than doing one task for too long, try to do shorter stints on a variety of tasks with short rest periods between.
  • Always get in and out of bed through a side lying roll where you place the legs over the side of the bed and use the arms to assist your movement up or down. Don’t try to sit straight up from lying on the back.
  • Ergonomically sound supportive seating is important – ensure the seating in your workplace and at home supports your back.

Maintaining and training core strength

The transverse abdominal muscles are the deep core muscles that encircle the trunk and act as an internal corset. They play an important role in supporting the back and maintaining good posture.

In pregnancy, these muscles are placed on stretch as the baby grows. In early pregnancy, it is important to ensure that these muscles are strong so they can continue to give as much support as they can.

If you want more info about how to strengthen your core, and about pregnancy exercise in general, take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Exercising While Pregnant.

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One comment so far -

  1. I have found that using a support belt has really helped me manage my pain in pregnancy! I used it from about 24 weeks in my first pregnancy after the pain started, and this time around have been using it from 12 weeks. It helps my pelvis and lower back feel much more supported and reduces my pain significantly. Highly recommend because it means I’ve been able to keep active!

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