While pregnancy can change your life and body, you still need to do many of the activities you did before. So how do you stay in shape, avoid injury and remain healthy throughout pregnancy, not to mention after baby arrives?
It starts with focusing on correct body positioning. Kelly Todd, PT, DPT the Women’s Health Program Manager at Athletico Physical Therapy offers the following tips to help you stay healthy while tackling your everyday routine.
· Take a stand – When standing to cook or clean, maintain a neutral spine (stand up straight and tall, shoulders back, chest out, chin parallel to the ground). If you have to stand for long periods, keep your legs wider apart than normal to provide a base of support and distribute your weight equally. If you get uncomfortable, rest one foot on a small step stool and regularly change feet to evenly distribute your weight.
· Sit right – If you sit at work (or elsewhere for long periods), use a chair that has good lower-back support, or use a special lumbar support pillow. Keep your feet flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart. If your feet do not reach the floor use a step stool to support them. Don’t cross your legs, and be sure your knees stay lower than the hips.
· Become a side sleeper – It’s best to sleep on your left side, especially in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Sleeping on your back puts pressure on your spine, can cause low blood pressure and, in extreme cases, can decrease the blood flow and oxygen to the baby. For the safest and most comfortable night’s sleep, place a pillow between your knees as well as under your expanding belly to help maintain a neutral spine.
· Lift and carry carefully – If you must lift or carry heavy boxes or other objects, do it slowly and carefully. When lifting, face the object, bend from your knees – not your back – lift, and keep it close to your body at all times.
· Maintain that posture – So you mastered good posture while pregnant – now keep it up! Continue to maintain a neutral spine with standing and sitting, especially while sitting on the ground playing with your child. When bending over the tub to give your baby a bath, keep your abdomen muscles tight and don’t slump.
· Avoid Mommy’s Thumb – Constantly lifting your little one by the armpits can lead to a pain in the base of the thumb called De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, or Mommy’s Thumb. Instead, try picking up your baby using alternative methods, such as putting one hand under the bottom and the other behind the back. Lastly, don’t forget to bend your knees when lifting, rather than using (and straining) your back.
· Take time for yourself – Remember to build in time for you and your health, not just your baby. You’ll be tired but try to exercise, it not only helps you lose the baby weight, but enjoy a heightened energy level that improves your mood. Be sure to talk with your doctor or physical therapist before taking on something too challenging. Finally, try getting a massage at a nearby Athletico facility to work through any kinks that the strains of motherhood may have caused.
If you do experience aches or pains during or after your pregnancy, stop by your nearest Athletico facility for a complimentary screening. There a physical therapist can work with you to determine what the issue is and how you can resolve it. More information on women’s health can be found at www.athletico.com/womenshealth.