Posture is not hard to read, you can literally look at yourself in the mirror and determine where your postural faults lie. Is one shoulder higher than the other? Does your neck protrude forward? Do you stand evenly on both feet? The actions we take everyday impact our posture whether they are good or bad, this is especially true while in the “4th Trimester.” During the postpartum period your body is in recovery mode, there has been trauma to the pelvic floor, core weakening, and profound hormonal changes. In addition to recovery, moms are also in a constant forward-flexed position while feeding, changing, holding, and caring for their precious babies. The forward flexion in addition to a stressed core can lead to symptoms like neck and shoulder pain, numbness/tingling in the hands, wrist pain, low back discomfort, upper thoracic hump (ie: hunchback) and overall malaise.
Although maintaining good posture can seem like a low priority during this phase of life, it can make a huge impact on physical health and comfort. Here are 4 easy tips for improving postpartum posture.
1. Belly Binding: Belly Binds are meant to provide stability, facilitate a faster recovery, return organs to correct positioning and just feel good! There are many different types of binds, and they vary depending on the type of delivery, make sure your belly bind feels good so that you can wear it throughout the day, but not exceeding 10hrs/day.
2. Use Props: Pillows, rocking chairs, & baby carriers! On average, breastfeeding moms feed for roughly 200mins/day, therefore their feeding posture matters. Using a thick pillow or even two pillows so that the baby's head is at breast level can make the world of a difference. If a rocking chair is added to this mix, so moms can rest their neck and recline, we are set up for greatness. Baby-wearing is also advised to give those wrists and arms a break while the baby gets some skin-on-skin. As long as your baby’s hips are kept in a flexed position to prevent hip injury you are in the clear.
3. Get Adjusted: At Life Adjusted Wellness we believe that postpartum adjustments are fundamental to a proper recovery. Because moms are in recovery mode while putting continual stress on their bodies, there is bound to be pelvic and spinal misalignments. Creating alignment will not only ease discomfort but it will also enhance recovery by creating function and better nervous system flow.
4. Daily Rehabilitative Exercises: Remember how we talked about everyday actions creating your posture, what if you spent a couple minutes or even 30seconds per day teaching your body great posture? For Example, the “post-feeding stretch” a favorite in our office for mid back tension. This exercise literally reverses bad posture by activating back muscles and relaxing typically overactive chest and neck muscles. Chin Tucks are also great for the “hunchback” issue mentioned before. However, our absolute favorite postpartum exercise is belly breathing, allowing moms to engage their core solely through breath. This exercise is gentle and safe to start right after birth. Checkout our youtube page for more helpful stretches.
5. Be Mindful: Think before you exert yourself to prevent harm. For example: lifting your baby out of the crib/basinet, this can get more difficult as your baby grows, make sure you have good form early on. While lifting, engage in a squat and really bend at your hips, then push through your glutes to get back up. Take a second to strategize before lifting or moving something. Also, remember to alternate, even if it feels weird to hold on the other side. Your body adapts quickly and dispersing weight equally will help ease the load. Mommy & Me yoga or solo yoga if you can squeeze it in, are incredible for checking in with your body. Listening to your body is going to be your most important tool, don’t ignore signs, if something hurts, if you begin bleeding, listen.
Good posture is an important, yet overlooked necessity. Taking a second to analyze your posture can create more mindfulness throughout your day. Remember you and your baby are equally important, both should be healthy and thriving. For more on postpartum care checkout The 4th Trimester.
Blog By: Angelica M. Ortiz, D.C.