During the nine months of gestation the body is preparing to become a comfortable and welcoming cradle for the unborn child who will accompany it until the birth is completed. These structural preparations are entrusted to the skilled hands of the relaxin hormone that “loosens” ligaments and tendons, increasing their hydration and therefore their volume, consequently making the joints more flexible.
The most expensive price is paid by the spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet as over the course of the nine months they adopt postural adaptations to ensure that the expectant mother can move along with the new life that grows inside her: the back arches, the hips tend to rotate internally, the knees tend to valgise (X-shaped knees) and the feet to pronate (flat feet) during the station erect and walk.
The consequences of these anomalous stresses materialize in many small ones aches and pains.
Let’s find out which are the most frequent.
- Syndrome of the carpal tunnel: tingling sensation in the first three fingers of the hand and in the middle of the fourth finger due to compression of the median nerve by tendons and ligaments “thickened” by pregnancy.
- Intercostal pains. During pregnancy, breathing changes from diaphragmatic to thoracic to limit the stresses on the abdomen. For this reason the chest expanding causes pain similar to stinging.
- Interscapular pains. The increase in weight and in the volume of the breasts and abdomen forces the pregnant woman to “pull back a little” to balance the weight, which would otherwise bend her forward, thus forcing the back to arch and the shoulder blades to come closer.
Backache, groin pain, pain in the hips, knees, ankles and feet they can be linked together and depend on the adaptations that the mother makes in walking and standing. Sometimes sciatica may also appear, not necessarily accompanied by lumbar pain, characterized by acute pain that starts from the buttock extending to the leg up to the foot.
But how to cope with all this? There is no real magic formula but there are some tricks that can help the pregnant woman in the small daily challenges.
- For carpal tunnel syndrome dipping your hand and wrist in cold water provides immediate relief. Furthermore, we must try to force the affected hand as little as possible, especially in the movements of the fingers and in clenching the fist.
- To relieve intercostal pains it is useful to do breathing exercises accompanying the inhalations of prolonged exhalations, sitting or supine.
For all other categories of pain it must be remembered that the rest it is always a panacea. While seated, you can place a cushion behind the lumbar spine to release tension and place your feet on a rise (eg stool) no higher than the chair on which you are sitting. In the lying position if you are lying on your stomach (for those who can bear it) it is useful to put pillows under the knees and shins thus bringing the thighs perpendicular to the bed. To rest on your side you need to have a good number of pillows of different sizes and textures to be placed, according to the comfort of mother and child, under the head, under the belly, behind the back and between the legs. On the market there are different types of sausage pillows that could be a valid alternative to the use of pillows.
In addition to rest, they can be useful stretching, combined with the breathingto relieve tension, especially in the legs and back, use massages made by a physiotherapist or from a caring husband.
Another valuable ally could be there pancera when used at night or when resting. The use of the belly during the day is not recommended because, although it gives relief, it relaxes the muscles when it is worn and then they find them “unprepared” when it is removed.
We always remember that pregnancy is a completely natural event and our body knows well the way to intervene to make the activities of daily life as simple and facilitated as possible.
In this video Dr. Daniel Di Segni, physiotherapist, explains how posture changes during pregnancy and which are the most correct positions to take.