Q: Is there any way to minimize the aches and pains of pregnancy between massage treatments?
A: Pregnancy produces some profound bodily changes in a very short space of time. Muscles and joints are having to continually adjust as the baby grows in order to move and balance effectively. The body’s ability to cope is made even more difficult by the presence of relaxin, a hormone designed to soften joints and connective tissue. This allows the hips to widen in preparation for birth.
Unfortunately, relaxin is undiscriminating and affects all the joints, not just the hips. As a result, muscles, tendons and ligaments are not only adapting to continually shifting weight distribution but are also trying to reinforce joint instability. The good news is that it doesn’t last forever and there are lots of simple ways to ease aches and pains.
A few of them are listed below.
- Avoid standing in one position for long periods of time. Walking is better than standing still.
- Avoid high heels as they cause your body weight to shift forward even more. Wear low heeled, comfortable shoes.
- When doing any task that demands prolonged standing, such as ironing or doing dishes, put one foot up on a step or sit on a high stool. This will reduce the sway in your lower back and prevent strain.
- Consider a maternity support belt.
- Maintain the pelvic tilt with a low back pillow and avoid slouching. This will ease back aches as well as indigestion.
- The length of your thighs should be supported by the length of the chair to keep knees on the same level as hips.
- Do not cross your legs. This position decreases circulation and can increase fluid retention in the legs.
- Use a body pillow to prevent arms and legs from crossing in front of the body’s centre line. This will prevent the muscles of your hips and upper back from overstretching and keep your lower back from twisting.
- Use a supportive, contoured pillow that fits the curve of your neck and keeps excessive pressure off your bottom shoulder. If you normally sleep on your back or stomach this may mean buying a new pillow.
- Consider a mattress topper if hips ache during the night. Another option is to place a comforter between the fitted sheet and mattress. For added cushioning fold it a few times and only use it on your side of the bed!