Updated: Nov 22, 2022
“You have a typical mommy posture; do you know that?” said an old lady who approached me as I was taking a walk in the park close to my home. I had my baby with me in the stroller, which felt like a truck full of sugarcane that I was pushing along. She walked over to me when she noticed my slow, stooped, and painful walk –for one so young, I had the stoop and gait of an old lady! It was in this instant that I realised that this condition had a name – I was not alone, and the hope of relief and a cure blossomed within me!
It seemed like a lifetime with a ton of weight on my shoulders – yet it was only 3 months since the birth of my baby. I had dragged myself around to balance meeting my baby’s needs and trying to alleviate my pain.
What is “Mommy Posture”?
“Mommy posture” is described as a condition characterised by a forward, bent neck, rounded shoulders, and a forward tilt in your pelvis associated with prolonged, neck and shoulder pain. It feels like you are carrying the world on your shoulders.
What causes “Mommy Posture”?
Mommy posture is often seen after pregnancy. The signs and symptoms can also be caused by repetitive and frequent carrying of heavy loads in front of your body.
How can Pregnancy Contribute to Mommy Posture?
With the increasing weight of the baby in the womb – especially during the last 3 months of pregnancy – there is a tendency for the body to be pulled down at the shoulders and hips. This causes strain on muscles of the back, neck, and shoulders which are used in resisting this forward pull. Loosened ligaments caused by the pregnancy hormone called Relaxin can also play a role.
With a growing the baby and the prolonged weight-bearing process it can result in incorrect posture due to the forward tilt of the pelvis and shoulders. The huge changes that a mother’s body goes through during pregnancy also change how her body responds to the lifestyle modifications after pregnancy. The post-pregnancy period is crucial as the mother’s body tries to adapt to the changes of not carrying her baby inside her tummy anymore. In this way, her body’s hormones and muscles change along with several other lifestyle, behavioural, and dietary modifications.
How to alleviate Post-Partum Mommy Posture?
1. Post-Partum Recovery Belts
Wearing a belt is one of the best ways to recover from mommy posture. Many types of belts are available in the market, for example, post-partum wraps such as elastic wraps, support belts, and shapewear. Recovery belts help relieve pain and assist in maintaining correct posture by providing much needed support to the lower back.
2. Sitting Up Straight
Sitting up straight helps in maintaining a healthy back and spinal cord. And a healthy spine ultimately assists in attaining correct posture. Initially you will need to focus on correct posture until it becomes a habit of sitting correctly. Keep your feet flat on the floor whilst maintaining a straight back and shoulders pulled backwards. Some mothers use a gym ball whilst doing certain activities like watching television or working on a computer. Using a gym ball as a seat also results in strengthening your core muscles as you constantly need to attain balance working your core muscles in the process. If you are planning to return to the office, you can make use of a gym ball or invest in an ergonomic office chair. If you spend large quantities of time behind a screen you can make use of a screen or laptop stand to for the screen to be at eye level. This ensures that you are not flexing your neck downward for extended periods of time and may relieve posture induced neck and shoulder pain.
3. Correct Posture whilst Nursing
Breastfeeding in the wrong and tilted posture is a big cause of mommy posture. While breastfeeding, some mothers face difficulty making the baby reach the nipple comfortably. When breastfeeding make sure to bring the baby to your breast whilst sitting comfortably instead of bending forward to bring your breast to the baby. Making use of nursing pillows can also be of help whilst nursing.
4. Stretching and Exercising
Exercising and stretching help the muscles get the strength and elasticity a mother’s body loses during all the phases of pregnancy. The process of delivering the baby also contributes to changing the mother's muscles’ tone, ultimately resulting in symptoms relating to mommy posture. To enhance the physical activity level is necessary to get the tonicity and strength of muscles back. Different exercises and stretches such as doorframe stretch, chest stretch, and the glute bridge can help you gain increased muscle strength faster.
5. Picking Up Your Little One correctly
Often mothers bend themselves over to pick up their babies. And usually, at an incorrect bending angle. This puts severe strain on the lower back. When picking up your baby, keep your back as straight as possible and bending through your knees instead of your lower back.
One in three mothers struggle with incorrect posture after giving birth. Posture related pain can have an unwanted affect in various areas of your life including physical and mental health. If you recognise incorrect posture and suffer from posture related pain do not wait to act. Start by implementing sound principles in your daily routine. Contact your healthcare practitioner for additional support.
Álvarez-Cebreiro, N., Abelairas-Gómez, C., Barcala-Furelos, R., González-Salvado, V., & Rodríguez-Núñez, A. (2016). Resuscitation and physical exercise: Can a strength training program help to improve quality? Resuscitation, 106, e30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resuscitation.2016.07.066
Iverson, C., Cohn, D., & Deering, C. (2016). Healthy and Quick and Everything Fit: A Step-by-Step Guide to Exercise After Pregnancy. Transformation Media Books.
Fraiberg, S. H., & Brazelton, B. T. (1996). The Magic Years: Understanding and Handling the Problems of Early Childhood. Scribner.
Macdonald, M., & Wright, T. (2011). Breastfeeding: Real Moms Tell You How. Diversion Books.
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