Stand Up To "Mum Posture"


Standing. How can something as basic as standing be different pre and post-pregnancy, even in "uncomplicated" pregnancies and deliveries? And how do we not even notice "mum posture" dragging at our bodies?

As pregnancy progresses, uterus and baby get bigger and heavier, and our organs get pushed up higher in our abdomen to make room for them. Our pelvis tips forward to give more space for baby, and we stick our chest out (called rib flaring) so as to not overbalance and give ourselves some space to breathe. Extra weight on our feet and relaxing connective tissues mean the arches of our feet flatten out more than before, and to make walking easier we turn our feet out as we stand and walk.

Meanwhile, your four deep core muscles are being pushed to their limit. Imagine your core as a cylinder or tin. At the front, you transverse abdominal muscles are being stretched over a basketball. At the back muscles (particularly multifidis) is being loaded up, trying to hold you up so you don't topple forwards. At the bottom, your pelvic floor is working with a heavy load of baby and bodily structures against gravity. At the top, your respiratory diaphragm is operating against resistance on an awkward angle to help you breathe. These muscles work as a team, and if one is compromised the function of the others suffer too. Furthermore, it is the loading up of these structures during pregnancy more so than birth that causes troubles (rates of stress incontinence after c-section, standard vaginal birth and breech vaginal delivery are pretty similar, so it seems most injury happens during pregnancy itself rather than birth).

After birth, these muscles are all weakened, and sometimes activating improperly (i.e. they forget how to work as a team). Enter "mum posture". Our feet stay turned out and we stand a little wider than pre-pregnancy. Our knees stay "locked" straight, we tuck our tailbone under and stick our hips and lower belly forwards. Our shoulders round and our head sticks forward.

Why so? Instead of using these weakened core muscles, your body is finding the easiest way out, using its ligaments and skeleton to hold you upright. How clever of it! We're lucky to have this back up system while we get out muscles back in order, but we have to know it's an issue before we can fix it.

Correcting "mum posture" helps to retrain your pelvic floor, reduces back pain, help you breathe more deeply (which gives feedback about our level of arousal and anxiety to our brains), and reduces shoulder and neck tension that leads to headaches. So how to do it?

Stand up. Turn your feet so the second toe points directly forward not out to the side, and bring your feet an inch or two closer together. "Unlock" your knees. Let your tailbone or bum stick out slightly. Stop trying to "stand tall" by lifting your chest up and just let your arms hang. Allow your head to balance naturally over your shoulders, and nod your head down ever so slightly. Now do this 600 times a day as you notice you've gone back to your old ways, and try not to hate yourself as you correct your posture over and over. There are other stretches and exercises you can do, but the fastest way to correct improper standing is by awareness of proper standing (and eventually getting the hang of walking with improved posture too). Feel free to get in touch if you want more personalised advice. Good luck!



Image by Derrick McKinney on Unsplash.


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!