Part 1 – How Excessive Sitting During Pregnancy Tightens Your Pelvic Floor

Part 1 – How Excessive Sitting During Pregnancy Tightens Your Pelvic Floor

This is Part 1 in a series of articles relating to alignment and pregnancy.

 

When it comes to alignment during pregnancy, you may not realise, but the way that you stand, sit and even walk, all have a direct influence on your body and your baby.

 

Having a pelvis that’s in its optimal position will make childbirth a lot easier. No surprise there.

 

A toddler doesn’t just learn to walk all of a sudden – it observes how YOU move and mimics your movements.

 

So, how you hold yourself and go about your day, will affect your toddlers’ gait too.

 

A baby’s ability to move from a breech position into the head down position, ready for labour, will be determined by a number of factors, but the main one is whether your deep hip flexor muscles are flexible enough for him/her to make manoeuvre. Interesting, huh?

 

I’ll go into the first point in more detail for you now, and cover the other two topics in a future blog post, ok?

 

If I’ve whet your appetite about how your posture, pelvic floor and your ability to give birth are all linked to posture, then keep reading:

 

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SPACE IN AND THE SHAPE OF YOUR PELVIS

Without going into too much detail, put simply, if you sit down a lot, and have done for the majority of your day for the past how ever many years, your pelvic floor muscles might end up in a ‘tightened’ state. This is not really good news when you’re trying to push a baby out through your privates, now is it?

 

When we sit down in a relaxed state it’s often done so with a tucked under tailbone. Check out your posture now if you’re reading this in seated. Are you sitting on the edge of the chair with your tailbone out and your legs uncrossed, or are you sat with your back against the backrest, molding yourself to the chair, Homer Simpson, style?

 

If it’s the latter and you’ve done a lot of it before becoming pregnant, chances are the space between your pubic bone and your tailbone has actually got shorter. Why does that matter? Well, it kind of does, if you’re about to push a baby out through it, doesn’t it?

 

The pelvic floor shouldn’t be tight – it should be flexible, and when it comes to pregnancy in particular, it’s your pelvic floor that needs to have enough ‘give’ in it, to facilitate childbirth to physically get baby out through the birth canal.

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If you visualise your pelvis looking downwards, the shape of the bowl or outlet of the pelvis should be somewhat circular. If your pelvic floor muscles are tight, it means you’ve changed the shape of your pelvis, and I know I’d much rather push a baby out through a circular outlet, than try and do so from a flat oval shaped one.

 

Getting some flexibility back into your pelvic floor muscles isn’t unachievable. It’ll just require a lot of squats, exercises to help strengthen the glutes to pull your tailbone back from out of the pelvis and a lot less sitting.

 

When you do sit, here’s how you should be positioned:

  • bum towards the edge of the chair,
  • feet flat,
  • knees hip distance or a little wider to accommodate bump,
  • hip bones forwards (meaning you might need to stick you butt out a bit to get the hip bones on top of the pubic bone),
  • rib cage down, and
  • chin in.

 

For some simple, effective exercises you can do which will get you thinking about your posture at work, rest and play, click here for a downloadable worksheet of movements you can do to help re-align your body and prepare you better for labour.

 

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Claire Mockridge
Claire Mockridge is an Ante/Postnatal Fitness Expert, Pilates Teacher and Train-the-Trainer. She's worked with over 1000+ pregnant and postnatal women and enjoys empowering and educating her clients on safe and effective exercise. Claire is a Health Columnist for the Nottingham Evening Post, a Health Expert for BBC Radio Nottingham, regularly writes for the national press and is the Winner of Theo Paphitis' Small Business Sunday Award.

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