By Jill Miller, Creator of Yoga Tune Up
Over my career I have worked with thousands of postpartum women who are chasing after the body they had pre-pregnancy. After one, two or several kids, a laundry list of body complaints plagues them:
- Diastasis recti – a soft-tissue split that occurs down the middle of the rectus and does not reconnect
- Clicking or painful SI (sacro-iliac) joints
- Peeing while sneezing, aka, “Snissing”
- Low back pain
- A feeling of disconnect from the core
This is just a short list of some of the common after-effects of child-bearing. I know from my students’ own stories that my Yoga Tune Up approach has helped them to awaken their bodies, heal birth traumas and bring a greater sense of body peace than they had pre-pregnancy. I developed my approach through years of experimentation, study and listening to my students and experts.
Your Inner Baby Carriage
This bundle of joy can cause a bundle of agony if you don’t have correct posture!
I set out to find these answers myself last November, and created a two-day webinar entitled Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby: Dispelling Myths of Pre-Natal Exercise, Diet and Self-Care on CreativeLive. Being pregnant, I thought it would be the perfect time to share my own knowledge along with that of my favorite pre- and post-natal movement educators with expertise on the subject:
- Dr Kelly Starrett DPT and his wife Juliet, founders of MobilityWOD
- Katy Bowman, author, biomechanic and creator of Aligned and Well
- Esther Gokhale, author, back pain specialist and creator of the Gokhale Method
- Dr. Eden Fromberg, osteopathic Obstetrics/Gynecologist and owner of Lila Yoga NYC
- Sarah Fragoso, author and creator of EveryDay Paleo
This team of experts and myself each presented their area of expertise over a jaw-dropping 10 hours of informative content. I was thrilled to be able to share pain-erasing self-massage strategies using my Yoga Tune Up Balls. I also shared hip and pelvic exercises for women at every stage of gestation or recovery. I was also proud to share an anatomy lecture on “The Inner Baby Carriage,” which included an array of breathing strategies such as a variation on the Diaphragm Vacuum that helps to promote a responsively versatile torso and core for better breath.
The secret ingredient that each of these experts reiterated is: how you hold yourself now — during your pregnancy — dramatically affects the state of your post-baby body. They all emphasized standing well, sitting well, sleeping well (and of course feeding well) during pregnancy to minimize the challenge of carrying 25-50 extra pounds as baby grows larger and changes your body’s carriage. Your inner baby carriage will dictate much of your resiliency when you start carrying your baby outside of your body for the next nine months.
Posture For Pregnancy And Beyond
As I enter my eighth month of pregnancy, I am happy to report that I follow my own message and have had zero pain — well, except for when I dislocated my pinky toe during my 16th week! But even with an agonizingly painful toe, I managed to not create a compensation posture in my pelvis or back to make matters worse. I followed my own basic rules of posture and sprinkled in the wisdom of my peers and — knock on wood — the experiment is going great so far!
Let’s start with the perfect pregnancy posture for standing. This will help you avoid back pain now and other issues in the future:
- Place feet hip-socket-width apart, toes pointed forward (like you’re wearing skis).
- Keep your buttock muscles turned on 20 percent to stabilize your pelvis (and get a little lift to boot).
- Angle the bottom of your ribcage down like a bony periscope targeting in on your pelvis (not thrusting forward or slouching backward).
- Center your skull over your chest, with the back of your head pressing into an imaginary head-rest.
- Your shoulders should not be floating forward or behind the ribcage (thus distorting the spine). Instead, keep them positioned directly under the ears and down.
Believe it or not, standing well builds a lot of foundational strength in your body, and is the basis of all of your movement and exercise. Your posture follows you like a shadow, and you certainly don’t want to have a “creepy” shadow while you’re carrying precious cargo. Take your strong posture into whichever exercise practice you prefer and be mindful of staying connected to the relationship of your skull, torso, low back and pelvis to maintain optimal stability.
Jill Miller is the co-founder of Tune Up Fitness Worldwide, creator of the corrective exercise format Yoga Tune Up and The Roll Model Method. With more than 27 years of study in anatomy and movement, she is a pioneer in forging relevant links between the worlds of fitness, yoga, massage, and pain management. She is known as the Teacher’s Teacher and has trained thousands of movement educators, clinicians, and manual therapists to incorporate her Therapy Ball products into fitness and medical facility programs internationally. Jill and her Roll Model products have been featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox News, ABC News, and in publications such as O, Shape, Fitness, W, Self, Yoga Journal, Redbook, and Prevention. She is also a contributing fitness expert to the LA Times and the Oprah Winfrey Network.