Women’s bodies go through dramatic changes during pregnancy and, as the NHS Choices website states, many women experience back pain, particularly during the last weeks of pregnancy. As the baby grows, the woman’s ligaments become more stretchy and the extra weight of the baby tends to drop forwards and down, tilting the pelvis, so that the pregnant mother often loses the length and strength in her lower back, increasing the lordosis and compressing the lumbar vertebrae. This extra tilting of the pelvis can also contribute to pain in the pelvic area, as in Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).
Pregnancy and Back Pain
However, as can be seen in the photos of this young women at 271/2 weeks pregnant, using the Alexander Technique can help women to maintain the length in the lower back. This AT student had virtually no back pain despite the large size of her baby and she was still able to practice lying on her back in semi-supine, right up until childbirth. She was also riding her bike throughout her pregnancy!
Childbirth and After
Practicing ‘monkey position‘ was one of the ways the AT helped Erica to maintain the length in her lower back during pregnancy and it was particularly useful both during labour and after giving birth. The photo below shows Erica using a very ‘shallow’ monkey position but in her AT lessons, we also explored how she could use a deeper monkey with her knees more bent, which helps encourage the baby to move into a good position for giving birth and will be useful when bending to pick up baby from the cot or floor, for instance. Bending the knees still further takes the movement down into a squat, which can be great to use during labour.
Erica kindly allowed me to share her experience of using the Alexander Technique to help her during labour, childbirth and after. She gave birth in hospital and ended up by needing a C Section, as her baby was very large for her small frame.
“During the time I was labouring naturally (before it was clear I would need an epidural and caesarean) my husband and I used a lot of AT techniques, such as always coming back to a free neck, using the exercise ball to relax my hips through contractions, watching out for tension in the jaw and shoulders and accepting the sensations and contractions rather than fighting them. These were invaluable tools for the long hours of labour and I had to use lots of ‘whispered ahs‘ in theatre, as the drugs made me feel very shaky.”
Monkey Position can also be Used During Recovery
“My recovery has been very speedy. After the caesarean I was up and about the next day as monkey helped me to be mobile around the ward – so the hospital were happy to discharge me the next day. The doctors said I was a great advertisement for having a caesarean and the body bouncing back!
Using monkey is absolutely vital for recovering from a caesarean, given the pain and weakness of the tummy muscles. It is the only way to get up from a chair! Thank you for all your guidance as monkey is saving me a lot of pain throughout the day.”
Of course Erica had worked hard at learning and practicing the Technique and she used it in her daily life, even before she became pregnant. This meant that she could call on her understanding of the AT and use it effectively when she really needed extra help.
Many thanks to Erica for sharing her experience and these photos, which were taken on the spur of the moment. I am glad to say both Mother and baby are doing well.
Next Introductory Workshop for Women and Teenage Girls ~ 7 March 2015
An International Women’s Day event