How Pregnancy Changes the Way You Stand and How to Fix it

Have You Heard of the ‘Mum-Hunch?’

No, we’re not talking about the eerie, supernatural-like ‘hunches’ that mothers have when their children are up to no good, we’re talking about the physical posture. It’s more commonly known as the ‘mom posture” or ‘postpartum posture’ and is characterized by rounded shoulders, a stooped back, and a forward-tilting pelvis. As odd and unfamiliar as this sounds, it’s rather common and seen even with celebrity moms like Kate Middleton or Victoria Beckham, medical professionals explained that mothers naturally succumb to this posture as they need to support their growing baby in the front of their body. 

Kate Middleton(left) and Victoria Beckham(right) both exhibit a hunched posture

What’s the Harm of the Hunch? 

Well, there are several problems that come with the hunch such as having an over-arched lower back, forward-tilting and unstable pelvis and hyper-extended knees. The causes of these are all due to needing to find balance and adjust to the shift of the center of gravity due to the growing baby in the belly. In addition to that it's not just about the belly, but also other changes in the mother’s body. For example, during pregnancy your breasts start to swell and become bigger, some women even experiencing an increase of up to 4 cup sizes during pregnancy, and find themselves with much heavier chests than they are used to.  This increased weight at the front can unknowingly pull you into a hunched posture with rounded shoulders. 

All in all, according to professionals the seemingly harmless posture that helps with balance, could cause pain and other orthopedic problems. A great example would be the hyper-extended knees. Due to the forward shift of your centre of gravity, your lower body also has to adapt to help you stand steadily. Studies have found an occurrence of hyperextended knees in pregnant women, which is when the knees bend excessively backward, causing knee pain when walking, knee pain when bending and muscle weakening around the knees and hips.

What can you do? 

Luckily, this posture is reversible with several ways to treat it; it just takes a little patience, effort and a small change in your lifestyle. 

Exercise and Stretch! 

Exercising does not necessarily mean throwing yourself into vigorous, sweaty and heart-racing activities, here, we mean gentle exercises that will help to speed up the recovery of your original posture by stretching and strengthening certain key muscles. For instance, taking your time of day to do exercises like hip flexor stretches to strengthen the muscles at the top of your thighs to reduce the possibility of lower back pain and knee pain when walking. Of course, there are other stretches and exercises that are gentle and easy to do at home but there are too many more to mention. The main focus of doing these stretches and exercises is to strengthen the muscles that have been weakened by this posture and relieve any pain that pertains. 

Pain Reducing Products? Yes, Please!

As unfashionable or bulky they may seem, just please say yes to them, because they really, really help. We’re talking about baby carriers. Baby carriers help distribute the weight more evenly around your body, especially when the straps are wide and padded. They hold your child closer to your chest and try to support their weight with your arms even with the carrier in place. Get into the habit of consciously pulling your shoulders back and making sure it's aligned to your hips, as well as tightening your abdominal area, to make sure you’re not slouching forward and worsening the “mom posture”. 

Similarly to the concept of baby carriers, wearing comfortable shoes with arch support can help alleviate any foot pain, knee pain when walking or sometimes even back pain. This is because arch support allows your feet to be at its natural state, where the weight is being distributed evenly and this balance allows for more support of your back as it reduces stress. As a mother who must constantly be on their feet to run errands or care for their baby, it is important to have comfortable walking shoes that reduce knee pain when walking and prevent any unnecessary foot pain like bunions or blisters from occurring. If it’s not obvious enough, chuck your heels or flip flops into a corner of the cabinet, because you shouldn’t wear them anytime soon, your red bottoms could wait, your health could not. So opt for comfortable shoes, if not for yours, then for your baby’s sake.

Resources: 

Postpartum Posture - https://www.annabelkarmel.com/advice/postpartum-posture/

Mom Posture - https://nwh.northwell.edu/expert-insights/mom-posture#:~:text=If%20left%20untreated%2C%20mom%20posture,other%20pain%20and%20orthopedic%20issues.

Pain Relieving Stretches for Moms - 

https://www.parents.com/parenting/moms/healthy-mom/pain-relieving-stretches-for-moms/

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