Some of us amble, while some on us sprint. Some of us like to take small steps, while some take long and confident steps, like a breeze. However, our gait and posture match when we are pregnant! As all of us progress into the final trimester of our pregnancy, we “waddle”. Yes, you read it right! Towards the end of the second and throughout the third trimester, pregnant women actually waddle like penguins. While you might think of it as cute or funny, there’s certainly science behind it. Read on to know more about this “penguin walk” or “waddle” that pregnant women display.
Do Pregnant Women Really Waddle?
First things first, yes, pregnant women really waddle. Researchers at Hiroshima University deployed 3D motion capture systems to monitor the unique walk of pregnant women and understand the adjustments that pregnant women have to make in their everyday movements to accommodate the pregnant belly. Their study revealed that the pregnant belly does lead to changes in the gait of the mother-to-be, sometimes as early as the very first trimester. This changed gait resembles that of a penguin. The study established that pregnant women do, in fact, waddle.
Why Do Pregnant Women Waddle?
The answer to this question is really simple – blame it on the hormones. The pelvis has many joints. In the very first trimester, pregnancy hormones cause the joints to loosen and the ligaments to soften in order to stretch the tight muscles in the belly to accommodate a full-sized baby as the pregnancy advances. This, and the downward pressure of the growing fetus causes the pelvis and hips to widen. This widens the stance and standing posture of a pregnant woman
This is just one part of it. The growing fetus is also equally responsible for the changed gait. As the baby grows inside the uterus, the center of mass changes position. It moves forward which puts stress on the back muscles as the spine curves inward. This causes women to bend or lean backwards and bend their knees less while taking their steps forward. The combination of all these factors, causes considerable muscle strain, resulting in the pronounced waddling movement.
The absolute good part here, is that the very same hormones that cause muscle laxity, are responsible for the easy passage of the baby through the pelvis during childbirth
How Can Pregnant Women Maintain The Right Posture?
While waddling may be the way of life for a couple of months, we must remember that it is a result of strained muscles. Accommodating the little one inside the belly sure takes a toll on the body and makes a mother-to-be cringe with discomfort, at times. At such times, easing this distress is necessary. Some correction in the posture and gait can lead to happier times as the pregnancy advances.
Here’s what you can do to relieve the fatigue and stress from the muscles, and improve your posture and gait during pregnancy:
Straight knees, backward shoulder blades and forward chest can be of some help in maintaining the right posture
As the baby becomes heavier, women tend to lean more backward, and sometimes shift the entire weight on one leg or switch between legs. At such times, it is important to distribute the body weight on both the legs
Make sure that the blood circulation in the body is right and evenly maintained. For this, it is advisable to avoid sitting or standing in the same position for more than 25-30 minutes
The sitting posture is of equal importance. Touch your buttocks to the back of the chair or couch, ensure that your back is straight and your shoulders are backward. All the different types of pregnancy pillows available in the market, can be of great help in ensuring this position
Your sleeping posture also determines your health during pregnancy. It is advisable to avoid sleeping on the back. While blood circulation may be hampered, it may also cause excruciating backaches. Sleeping on the sides is the best sleeping position that pregnant women should consider. Also, switching sides is necessary. Again, placing pregnancy pillows below your legs or between them helps
Another point to remember is to try and sleep in a position that helps maintain the curve or arch of the back
These tips will ensure that the muscles of the body are protected from strain and fatigue thereby ensuring the right posture during pregnancy. Along with this try prenatal yoga, swimming and walking. These will make you more comfortable although they won’t erase any of the changes.
Try as much, but there is no running away from or denying the pregnancy waddle. It is, however, commendable that doctors and researchers are trying to understand how and how much the pregnant belly affects the daily movement of the pregnant women. In the process, they are also trying to devise ways in which falls – arising out of weight imbalance and experienced by about 25 percent of pregnant women – can be avoided. Their findings will also aid in gauging the best and most-effective exercises and relief techniques for young mothers after the birth of their beautiful young ones!
Did you waddle during your pregnancy? Do share your experience in the comments section below.