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Bad Posture Post-Partum
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Bad Posture Post-Partum
See also: Pre-natal and Postpartum Exercise
I had pretty mediocre posture before having a baby, but now
its horrible. Im all ''S'' shaped from hunching my shoulders
over and jutting out my hips.
I try to be mindful of my slouching. When I think about it I
walk around properly aligned, and try to look down with my
eyes not my neck , but ususally I slip right back in to
slumped (like right now). And whenever I hold that baby it
seems impossible not to be all hunched over.
I fantasize about fixing it with a brace like Deenie wore (Judy
Blume book about girl with scoliosis), do things like this
exist?? Is it too late? Am I gonna be slouchy forever?
Any advice on how to improve my postute would be greatly
I have one word for you. ''Yoga'' Doing yoga will improve your
posture, make you more aware of body alignment in general, and
be far better for you than wearing some kind of brace.
(Another possibility would be the Alexander Technique, which
also focuses on good posture.)
before trying a brace, i highly recommend starting individual
and/or group pilates lessons. doing a pilates program 3-4 times
a week created an immeasurable change in my own postpartum
posture (bad before kid, worse after nursing & carrying a
baby!!). Pilates training will also strenghten your back and
stomach (core/abdominal) muscles as you strengthen the muscles
along your spine--you'll feel better, have better posture, and
be generally more fit!
I am also someone who had ''mediocre'' posture before having my
baby in January, and AWFUL posture afterwards. After the baby
was born, I kept thinking the My Brest Friend was made wrong, my
glider wasn't properly supportive, etc. Finally one day my
husband suggested that I stand with my back against a wall and it
felt like I was going to fall over backwards to just touch my
shoulders against it. I guess it has to do with the different
center of gravity, hunching to nurse, etc.
What I did was try to make myself line up by standing against the
wall every once in awhile to see what standing straight actually
felt like. I also recently bought a (Maclaren) stroller with
adjustable handles. It was expensive but I decided it was worth
it to be able to put the handles a little higher than I needed to
force me to stand up straight. It seems to be helping.
Have you tried yoga?
I find that even if I just go once a week, I feel somehow taller
and straighter--more mindful of my posture, and how I carry
myself, and less prone to minor aches and creaks when I wake up
in the morning.
There are people out there who swear by yoga videos, but I have
to go to a class, to have the instructor tell and show me in
person how to do (and not do) the postures and breathing. The
class I attend is out of the Albany community center, but I know
there are tons out there, and any number may be a good fit for
you and your schedule.
During pregnancy, the pelvis tips to the back in response to the
growing weight of the baby. This in turn, changes the alignment
of the entire spine. What you are experiencing is a classic post
pregnancy Kyphotic/Lordotic (ie. too much ''S'' shape) posture.
When the spine is out of good functional bablance, certain muscle
groups get too tight, and opposing muscle groups weaken and
arophy. Also, till about six months postpartum, your ligaments
(which provide stability and alignment to joints) are long and
don't adequately support the body's joints. Thight muscles pull
the loosened body out of position, exacerbating posture problems,
continuing the cycle.
In a nut shell, your want to lengthen muscle groups that have
shortened during pregnancy, and restore strength to muscle groups
that have weakened, and restore core stength to the spine.
For more info check out my web site,
I also teach reconditioning classes for new moms that focus on
these issues the Post Pregnancy Exercise Workshops, in the
Montclair neighborhood of Oakland.
Helene Byrne hbyrne at mac.com
I don't know if this would be something you would like, but I have found
that yoga has changed my posture incredibly. It's taken a while, but
now I actually know how to stand and have the muscles developed to
support me. It's a great feeling. There are tons of yoga studios in the
bay area, and there are even some specifically for post-partum.
My mother always complained about my slouching as a teenager.
In my early 30's, I went to see a terrific chiropractor for the
first time after a minor car accident. I ''grew'' an inch and a
half and stood straight easily -- all without ''thinking'' about
it. So, perhaps you are out of alignment (my hips and neck
alignment were pulling my shoulders down), and no amount of
simply thinking about standing up straight is really going to
help. I wish I had gone as a teenager, as it could have saved
me and my mom some nagging between us. A postpartum correction
may also be helpful if things are worse now -- childbirth can be
awfully hard on your skeleton. Anyway, just an avenue you might
want to try if you haven't already -- and a lot easier and
healthier than a brace, so I recommend trying this first.
Another point I'd like to pass on is that learning to hold and
feed a baby was very difficult for me (and good posture was
nearly imposible), which led to some carpal tunnel-type problems
in my wrists (or what I liked to refer to as ''repetitive breast
injury''). Seeing a chiropractor during these times was also
helpful; although visits did not completely solve the problem,
they probably helped it from getting worse than it was.
About bad post-partum posture, I will give you my
perspective as a pilates teacher. Pregnancy will tend to
accentuate the ''S'' curve in the back that you are asking
about. To correct this you need a combination of stretches
and strengthening exercises. In particular you will need to
strengthen the abs, upper back, and pelvic floor and open
the chest and other stretches. Carrying your baby will put
even more strain on what sounds like weakened back
muscles from your description. Mental images of good
posture are great, but you will need to get started on a good
exercise routine as well. Pilates is great for this, as it
address postural imbalances. You definitely don't want to
ignore this as postural imbalances can cause other
problems down the road ( I do lots of post-rehabilitative
work on people who have let things go too long) and then it
can take much longer to address. Wearing a sling is
unfortunately not the answer- you need to be able to give
yourself that support. Besides, braces are not very
comfortable from what I have heard and are used in such
situations as bad backs or in severe scoliosis when the
person suffering form scoliosis is very young and going
through rapid growth spurts. As an adjunct to pilates I
would recommend body work such as hellerwork or deep
tissue or structural integration- this will facilitate the
changes you wish to make in your posture, by releasing old
holding patterns as you try and establish new ones. I don't
think that changing your posture is hopeless. It does take
work, but if you work hard at it should not take that long.
And, you will probably end up with better posture than before
your pregancy. Besides pilates is great for toning and
streamlining the body.
I would be glad to answer any other questions you have. I
have a pilates studio ( You can check out our website at
www.optimumpilates.com.) where both myself and a couple
other pilates teachers work and we would be glad to work
with you, help you get started in the right direction or give
you recommendations. Good luck and don't be
I'm a teacher of the Alexander Technique and my specialty is
working with new moms. The Alexander Technique deals with
discovering and undoing unconscious, habitual tensions. As our
awareness increases, our natural posture and ease reemerge.
Babies are such a great barometer for our tensions and when we
relax, they relax. So we are not only doing ourselves a favor,
but the next generation as well. I have a 2 year old son and the
Alexander Tecnhique has helped keep my body relaxed and
comfortable as he's growing.
Call if you want to talk. I do private sessions and small group
classes. My number is (510)482-2276.
Susan Schreier bodywiz at hotmail.com
this page was last updated: Mar 31, 2004
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