Pregnancy is hard on our bodies in many ways. The extra weight women carry in front also causes the body to compensate in many ways. As pregnancy continues and women become even larger, many movements become more difficult and there is less mobility, balance suffers and many are not moving as naturally as before pregnancy. This compensation causes changes in posture which can wreak havoc on muscles that can lead to aches and pains. What I was also surprised with was how sore and achy I was after having my son from breastfeeding him and holding him with poor posture.
As requested by one of my pregnant friends, below are 5 stretches that can hopefully ease some of the aches and pains from pregnancy and from holding and feeding that beautiful newborn.
Low back pain is a very common complaint during pregnancy. The extra weight being carried in the front causes more stress on the low back. The cat cow stretch feels great for a few reasons. Even being on all fours can feel good for many women as it takes the pressure off their low back. The cat portion of the stretch is good for pulling the shoulders down and opening the chest (the opposite position mamas are in during feedings). By rounding, they are opening up their upper back and it often feels great on the low back as well. Complete 5-10 reps, inhaling in cow and exhaling as you round into cat.
Again, as pregnancy continues mobility and ease of movement tend to decrease. Most of us, regardless of pregnancy tend to have tight hips as we tend to move only in one plane of motion. Hip bridges not only open hips, they feel great on the low back as well. **Please note, this is best done on a physio ball or BOSU ball later in pregnancy. If you are far enough along and uncomfortable lying on your back, place head, neck and shoulders on a ball and lift and lower hips. Complete 5-10 reps, exhaling as you lift your hips.
Wide Legged Child’s Pose
This stretch feels great as it targets a few different areas. The wide legs allows the belly to come between the legs vs. resting uncomfortably on the knees. This can feel great on the low back. Again, regardless of pregnancy, many of us are tight in the chest from rounded shoulders. I was surprised how incredibly tight I became in the chest and tension in my neck and shoulders a few weeks after having Caleb. I was constantly hunching because I was a) nervous with my fragile newborn and was holding him fairly tightly and was not relaxed the first few weeks and b) was constantly hunching over while breastfeeding. Until I became more used to feeding and holding him, I was constantly hunching creating so much tension in my neck and shoulders. The wide legged child’s pose felt great to stretch out my shoulders and chest, hips and back. Sit and relax in this pose for at least 30 seconds.
Chest openers should be a part of anyone’s stretching routine since we spend most of our day hunched over a computer, hunched at our steering wheel etc. But again, as stated above I tended to hunch so much during breastfeeding and holding my son that I did not realize how much tension I was creating in my body. This chest opener feels great for the entire upper body. If you feel comfortable and want to take it one step further, you can take a wide stance and forward fold keeping your hands behind your back for a more intense stretch. Try holding this stretch for 10-20 seconds.
Downward dog is one of the most common yoga poses. It is a great stretch for the back, shoulders, chest, hamstrings and calves. As pregnancy progresses and balance is compromised, take a wide legged stance to make sure you feel comfortable in this pose. Make sure you slowly enter and exit this stretch as to not feel dizzy. Try staying in downward dog for 20-30 seconds.
Hopefully, you can try some of these stretches to help relieve some tension. I would love to hear if there are any more stretches that you love to help ease some of the aches and pains!
Natural Health Magazine