MAY FOCUS – PREGNANCY

Hi everyone! Obviously this month’s post is quite specific and doesn’t apply to us all! It may be relevant to family or friends? There is no reason why everyone can’t do both exercises, but I’ve added an additional exercise for those who aren’t pregnant, so you don’t feel left out!

The female body is designed to become pregnant. Many hormonal changes occur, some to soften the tissues and allow the body to accommodate for the growing baby and prepare for the upcoming birth.

As the baby grows the increased weight will alter the weightbearing mechanics and gait of the lady. Sometimes this process can result in a lack of adaptation and subsequent pain. Often the physical, growing prescence of the baby places direct pressure onto structures like the spine and diaphragm, with resultant pain and possibly additional symptoms like heartburn and nerve irritation.

In practice I commonly see pregnant ladies struggling with pubic symphysis problems (joint at the front of the pelvis). Pain originating from the diaphragm and ribcage, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and shoulder pain, and lower back pain; very often with associated pain into the lower extremity. Any area could be effected as the body tries to adapt to the changes. Also pain can occur as with anyone else, it may not be a direct result of the pregnancy!

Either way, it’s important that assistance is sought from an appropriate practitioner. Someone who is experienced in dealing with pregnant ladies, and has an understanding of the changes the body is undergoing.

USEFUL TIPS DURING PREGNANCY


1. Look after your back, be sure to take care when lifting or carrying, especially other children. Try not to carry a small child on one hip for any length of time.

2. If you have to stand for any length of time, keep your bottom tucked in to try and reduce the strain on the lower part of your spine.

3. When sitting, use a cushion for support in the small of your back, and don’t sit with your legs crossed.

4. When lying on your side in bed, place a pillow under the bump, and one between your knees to prevent back strain.

5. If you prefer to lay on your back, place pillows under your knees or keep your knees bent to prevent back strain. As the baby grows, it is likely that laying on your back will cause shortness of breath and possibly dizziness. This is best avoided, so prop your upper body up with pillows.

6. Check all your baby equipment is at a good height and works for you – changing mat, buggy, cot, etc.

EXERCISES


These exercises shouldn’t cause pain, if you experience a problem, stop the exercise and consult your Osteopath or other medical practitioner. If you have an existing complaint, it would be wise to consult your practitioner to check these exercises are appropriate for you.


If you haven’t been exercising regularly before your pregnancy, then it would be un-wise to take up a new sport. Here is a simple exercise which is likely to benefit most pregnant ladies. If you are in any doubt about how to perform the exercise, or its appropriateness for you. Please consult your healthcare practitioner.


PELVIC TILT AGAINST THE WALL


Stand with your back to a wall, lean into the wall with your feet approximately a foot ahead of you. Make sure you feel balanced. The exercise is a backwards tilt of the pelvis and a flattening of the lower back against the wall. To perform it, pull up your pelvic floor muscle (the muscle you would use to stop yourself having a wee). With these muscles engaged, tilt the pelvis backwards and flatten the lower back into the wall. Hold for a slow count of 2 and then relax, repeat 5 to 10 times.

UPPER BACK ROTATION (NOT TO BE PERFORMED IN PREGNANCY WITHOUT PRIOR CONSULTATION)


I love this one to get the very often stiff upper back moving!

Lie on your side. For good positioning, think about the hips and shoulders being stacked on top of one another. Have the knees ahead of you and slightly bent. Place your hands gently clasped behind your head and neck, as in a sit-up position. Raise the upper arm, to open the chest. At the same time rotating the neck and head to look up, and rotating your upper back.

It is important to keep the legs stacked upon one another and the pelvis stable. In this way you will be able to focus the movement in the upper back. At the end of the movement, take a deep breath into your rib cage to further expand the thorax. With control move back to the start position, and repeat 5 times on each side.

NB To maintain the position of your pelvis, you will need to think about activating your core muscles. So you pull up your pelvic floor (the muscle you would use to stop yourself having a wee), and contract your lower abdomen (pull your navel back to the spine). Keep practicing, if you haven’t used these muscles specifically for a while, it can take some time to get used to. Pilates can really help you find and work these muscles effectively.





THE BITS THAT CAUGHT MY EYE IN THE NEWS


Scientists have discovered that getting less than five and a half hours sleep each night could see you gain nearly a stone each year. This is apparently even if diet and exercise habits remain the same, and is thought to explain why people get larger as they get older, as they struggle to get enough sleep at night. Night-shift workers tend to be overweight as they struggle to sleep during the day. The metabolism is thought to slow down, resulting in burning off 120 calories fewer each day.

A recent review found little evidence that over the counter remedies for insect bites are effective. It reports most insect bites will ease of their own accord. A cold compress is just as effective.

Older varieties of fruit and veg may be more healthy than the modern supermarket equivalents. More research is continuing. A pilot study showed the Ergomot Russet apple contains considerably more phloridzin than modern glossy fruits. This chemical increases the absorption of sugar from the digestive system, and so could help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.


The campaign to put babies to sleep on their backs has dramatically reduced the incidence of cot death. However, there has been a noticeable increase in “flat-head syndrome”as babies spend more time face-up, placing more pressure on their developing skulls. It is also questioned whether our lifestyle today places our babies in prams, cribs and car seats for longer. Therefore resulting in heads resting on surfaces for long periods. In the UK these youngsters have been termed “bucket babies”. Parents are being urged to to reduce the use of plastic seats. The distortion in baby’s heads is termed differently depending on where the flattening is. It happens to varying degrees and severities. It can cause facial misalignment, or possible recurrent ear infections. Parents should still place babies on their backs to go to sleep, but should limit time spent in car seats, etc, and encourage floor-play and time on their tummies.