Pregnancy and your body
Pregnancy causes a huge number of changes to your body. As your baby grows your body has to adapt to carry your baby: creating space, supplying the foetus with the oxygen and nutrients it needs, and physically supporting your expanding uterus. Some changes, like your bump, are clearly visible; others can be unseen, but no less significant.
The curvature of your lower back increases as your pregnancy progresses and the weight of your uterus increases, causing your pelvis to tilt forwards. This helps you to give birth, but also puts pressure on your vertebrae, causing back pain. Maintaining the strength of your abdominal muscles helps to support your bump and reduce the pelvic tilt – in other words, less back pain.
As your bump grows, it stretches the connective tissues in your stomach. Your muscles remain the same size, but become gradually further apart, making them weaker. As your abs help support your spine day-to-day, this decrease in strength is another likely source of back pain.
Need the loo a lot?
When you get pregnant, everyone starts talking about your pelvic floor. You probably hadn’t even thought about your pelvic floor before. Your pelvic floor supports your abdominal organs, including your uterus, so as your foetus grows and the weight of your uterus increases, your pelvic floor comes under increasing pressure. Your pelvic floor also controls when you go to the toilet: as your pelvic floor weakens it becomes harder to keep control, even actions such as coughing can start to cause leaks. Your midwife may have advised you to do regular pelvic floor exercises: keeping the pelvic floor as strong as possible can help with labour, as the baby must pass through them, and help with post partum recovery. However, if you’ve never thought about your pelvic floor before, it can be hard to know where to start – how to engage the muscles, and the best ways to strengthen them without a little guidance.
Time to Exercise
It’s important to keep exercising during your pregnancy, and to do so safely. While pregnant you should avoid high intensity exercise, or long cardiovascular workouts; these can make the baby’s heart rate increase, which can be bad for the baby. Low to moderate intensity workouts are good for you and safer for the baby.
Above all, don’t forget to make time for yourself: with so many things happening you may be feeling overwhelmed or simply busy, adding baby preparations and appointments on top of work. However you spend the time, make sure you take time to engage with your changing body and the baby you’ll be meeting very soon.