Often, when we see a pregnant woman, she is quite noticeable by her posture - abdomen sticking out and pelvis thrust forward.
She might be walking like a duck. This kind of incorrect posture happens because she is ‘overcompensating’ for the growing weight in front.
That weight is putting strain on her back, shoulders, and hips, which can lead to poor posture. Unfortunately, poor posture can cause aches and pains, as well as contribute to more serious conditions such as sciatica. In this blog post, we will focus on how you can correct posture issues with pregnancy-safe yoga.
Ideally, you should do yoga under an expert’s guidance.
Why is posture so important during pregnancy?
The reasons are as follows:
- First - Pregnant women commonly report back pain and pelvic pain in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
- Second -About 27% of pregnant women experience an accidental fall. This incidence is almost similar to the rate of fall of women over 70 years of age (which is in the range of 28%). Compared to non-pregnant women, during pregnancy women are 2.3 times more risk of falling.
The risk of fall increases as the pregnancy advances:
- First Trimester: 9.4%
- Second Trimester: 11.3%
- Third Trimester: 79.3%
- Third -Weight gain, arms and feet swelling, concentration difficulty and problems with memory. Yes, even these are related to poor posture.
What causes posture problems in pregnancy?
- The hormones, Relaxin, and Progesterone making ligaments in the pregnant woman’s body loose.
- The growing uterus putting pressure on the lower back and internal organs next to it.
- The shifting centre of gravity with the belly protruding out.
Especially in the second and third trimester, many pregnant women walk in a sway-back posture, in which the upper part of the body extends in front. It is not in line with the pelvis. These women report low back and pelvic girdle pain.
Changes in the posture and balance also lead to some changes in the gait. That makes the pregnant woman walk like a duck or penguin. It is characterised by:
- Short steps
- Feet wider apart
- Reduced speed of walking
What are the benefits of a good posture in pregnancy?
We have come to associate pregnancy with a duck-like walk. In fact, it feels like the normal way to walk. But, it isn't. If you work on your posture, you are helping your body in a big way by:
- Reducing aches and pains (including Pelvic Girdle Pain)
- Giving your lung more space to breathe, sending baby more oxygen
- Improves blood circulation (especially during sleeping)
- Better upper body health, for example, reduction in shoulder aches
- Significantly reducing the chances of tripping and falling
Being conscious of the posture can not only reduce these discomforts but also help prepare for childbirth since the baby finds it easier to drop into the best position for delivery into the pelvis.
Check our blog on: Best Foetal Position for Normal Delivery
By maintaining proper posture, the mother can help to distribute her weight more evenly and reduce the strain on her muscles and joints, which can improve her overall comfort.
Yoga Positions to Improve Posture in Pregnancy
Sulabh Ushtrasan – Camel Pose
- From Vajrasan (simple sitting yoga pose), come onto your knees.
- Bring the hands behind the back, supporting the back and slowly and gently start to tilt the body back and pressing the hips slightly forward.
- Breathe normally and maintain for as long as it is comfortable.
- Alternatively, a more gentle version is to stay in vajrasan and place the fingertips behind the body, on the ground, tilting backwards and expanding the chest. Breathe normally - just be aware if you are tending to hold your breath.
Benefits of Sulabh Ushtrasan – Camel Pose for Pregnancy Posture:
- Stretches the spinal nerves and helps remove tension in the back.
- Opens the chest and expands the lungs.
- Useful if there is breathlessness.
- Improves posture, especially if the shoulders are rounded.
- Stretches the neck and thyroid
Vyghrasan - Lifting one leg and one arm
- Stand up.
- Bring the left leg back, keeping the left toes erect to start with.
- Then slowly raise the left leg till it is parallel to the ground.
- From here slowly raise the right arm, focusing on a point and maintaining balance.
- Try to have a straight line from the hand to the foot and keep the length in the spine, avoiding dropping the belly.
- Breathe normally and repeat on the other side.
Benefits of Vyaghrasana for Pregnancy Posture:
- Loosens and realigns the spine, removing tension and pain.
- Strengthens the abdominal muscles and pelvic region.
- Strengthens and stretches the legs, preventing fluid retention and cramps.
- Improves balance and coordination.
- Creates lightness in the body.
- Can relieve sciatica.
Marjari Asana - Cat and Cow pose
- From Vajrasan come on to the hands and knees.
- Separate the knees so that they are hip-width apart.
- Let the hands be directly under the shoulders and let the spine be neutral, this is often called table top cat. In this position the spine is long and the tailbone is slightly tucked under.
- Try to avoid dropping the spine down.
- From here inhale and open the chest, tilting the head back and pressing the belly down slightly so there is a gentle arch in the lower back.
- Exhale and slowly arch the spine, pulling the belly up towards the spine and engaging the pelvic floor muscles.
- Bring the chin towards the chest.
- Continue the movement with the breath, keeping awareness of the movement of the spine.
Benefits of Marjari Asana for Pregnancy Posture:
- Increases flexibility of the whole spine
- Relieves back pain
- Opens the pelvic region
- Opens the chest region and upper back
- Can be a helpful position during labour and for birth
Parvatasana - Mountain Pose
- From sitting position sit in any comfortable meditative pose.
- Take both hands in front of the body and interlock the fingers.
- Raise the arms over the head, turning the hands such that the palms face outwards.
- Stretch the body upwards.
- Continue to maintain the asana, breathing normally. If you turn your head to look upwards, it is even better.
Benefits of Parvatasana for Pregnancy Posture:
- Removes tension in the shoulders and back.
- Helpful for carpal tunnel syndrome
- Removes neck tension
- Can help prevent tension headaches
Skandha Sanchalan – Shoulder Movements
Here is a pregnancy-friendly list of micro-exercises that you can do while sitting to keep posture-related issues away.
1. Raise and lower shoulders
- Inhale and raise the shoulders up, keeping the neck relaxed.
- Exhale and press the shoulder downward, keeping the arms relaxed.
- Continue the movement with rhythmic breathing.
2. Shoulder rotations
- Bring the fingertips to the shoulders. Inhale and bring the elbows together and upward.
- Exhaling brings the elbows backward and down.
- Continue the movement with the breath and then practise in the opposite directions.
- Move one arm across chest and stretch
- Move the left arm across the chest and support it with the right arm.
- Stretch and repeat with the right arm.
4. Tennis elbow movement
- Raise the arms from the sides, palms facing down.
- Slowly rotate the arms until the palms are facing upwards and if possible, a little to the back.
- Repeat in the other direction
5. Arm movement forward and to the sides
- Bring the fingertips on the shoulders, elbows facing out to the sides.
- Inhale straightening the arms to the sides and exhaling bring the fingertips back to the shoulders. Continue the movement with the breath.
- Next keep the fingertips on the shoulders and the elbows facing forwards. Inhale, straighten the arms in front, exhaling bring the fingertips back to the shoulders.
- Continue the movement with the breath.
6. Scapula Hug
- Sit in a comfortable position with your spine erect.
- Bring both the hands straight to the front at your shoulder level.
- Breathing in, open your arms wide and expand your chest pushing it out a little.
- Breathing out, start bringing your arms close, contracting the chest area.
- Bring the right palm towards the left shoulder and left palm towards the right shoulder.
- Wrap the arms around the body like you are hugging yourself.
- If possible, slide the fingertips behind the shoulder blades.
- Breathing normally, try to push the shoulder blades away from each other, stretching the upper back.
- After a few deep breaths gently release your hands and relax.
- Repeat it 2-3 times.
Benefits of Skanda Sanchalan/Arm movements for Pregnancy Posture:
- Opens the chest.
- Relieves pain and tension in the upper back, neck, chest and shoulders.
- Stretches the arms and elbows.
- Relieves stiffness in the shoulders and back
- Expands the lungs and encourages deeper breathing which can be helpful when there is breathlessness in pregnancy.
In summation, good posture is essential for pregnancy. You need it for good blood flow, managing aches and pains.
Labour on your mind? Want a short and active labour? A number of things have to work for that. Amongst those things, your posture is also a factor.
Something as simple as slouching back into your chair in the evenings can affect your labour. It can affect your baby’s position inside you.
Want to know more about pregnancy posture?
Read our blog on: Common Pregnancy Posture Mistakes and Remedies
Worried about doing yoga by yourself? Need expert advice?
The iMumz Womb Care Program offers yoga classes, lifestyle tips, and expert-led webinars for making your womb a better place for your baby.