Only about 5 times a week do people send me this infographic on pregnancy and posture and ask me what I think.
First of all, you shouldn’t care what I think. You should care what you think. But, I also realize that what you are really asking is for more information to interpret this advice for yourself. So that’s what I’m going to give you.
1. When you are standing, the body’s center of mass lands in the pelvis.
2. In order for the mechanoreceptors of bone (as well as those in the uterus, pregnant or not!) to work appropriately, the body needs to be vertically stacked, which means keeping the pelvis neutral, on a vertical leg, over the ankle, blah blah blah you’ve heard me say this a bunch of times.
3. Clearly, when pregnant, you will accumulate the additional mass of the baby, some of which will end out (way) in front of you. Clearly.
Which means that now the center of mass of your body is forward to where it used to be.
Which is why it would make sense (at least to the creator of the graphic) that you should perhaps, slightly bend your knees and tuck your pelvis underneath, bringing your skeleton toward your *new* center of mass that is out in front of where your old one once was (see infographic).
I just wanted to point out that the premise everyone has agreed upon to this point is that being pregnant dictates that your center of mass has moved forward. But here’s the thing. This "your center of mass is now forward" model you are subscribing to is the modern-living, unmoving or moving in unnatural ways, pregnant-in-a-vacuum (or at least in a chair) one. So the solution isn't really addressing the real problem (the missing mASS) and is a band-aid fix. A band-aid fix that leaves you with a few other health issues.
THE MISSING m(ASS)
We cannot deny that there is more mass now on the front. And we cannot deny that it needs to be supported. The question is, does dragging the entire skeleton (and organ systems) out of alignment during the time when one of the most biologically normal processes is about to go down make sense? Do you think that nature intended for pregnancy to be a period of time when the spine and the pelvis needed to bend and contort to support itself?
Of course not.
So, picture this. You’re getting heavier every day but you’re walking around with this extra mass. A lot of walking like 3-10 miles every day. And you’re going up and down hills (not just walking a track) and you’re carrying stuff. And squatting to pee. And more importantly, getting out of the squat (groan) when you’re done. And also getting up and down off the ground a bunch of times. What happens, little exercise scientists? You’re getting stronger, right? Which means that you’re increasing the mass of your muscles -- specifically those that propel you forward, which, if you’re walking around without heeled shoes and you don’t have quads and psoai of steel, means you’re using your butt, hamstrings, and calves more.
And if we add this backside:
to this body:
We get a center of mass
that is exactly where it was before this whole party started.
Not fully understanding 1) mass, 2) our ability to respond and adapt to mass (especially nature’s intended mass accumulation) and 3) natural movement's role in keeping the body biologically optimal can leave you with a logical solution -- see infographic -- that is biologically non-optimal.
So you ask what I think of recommendations that have us distort our skeletons to mitigate the “natural center of mass changes brought on by pregnancy?”
I think that whoever made these recommendations has only thought through a very small part of the equation (the extra mass in front) and didn’t consider that in less modern times, natural movement quantities and qualities would have made this a non-issue (more junk in the trunk, hamstrings, and calves).
They are also failing to considering that:
1. Slightly flexing your knees tenses your quads and increases pressure and friction under the knee cap.
2. Slightly tucking the pelvis causes excessive pressure on the sacrum (ow) during sitting and minimizes gluteal contraction (and therefore development) while walking. It also increases tension in the pelvic floor -- not good for vaginal delivery.
3. Tilting the pelvis also tilts the uterus, changing the interaction between baby and uterus, and the uterus and the brain -- not optimal for fetal movements and cervical dilation as well as other important uterine functions like menstruation, fertility, etc.
I'm also not going to mention that if you didn't rib thrust all of the time, more of the baby's mass would be over your pelvis instead of out in front of you. I also won't mention that if you didn't rib thrust all of the time, your transverse abdominals would produce a much greater force in supporting the uterus to that your skin and connective tissue between the linea alba and rectus abdominals wouldn't have to hold it for you.
But what I think shouldn’t be important. What matters is what YOU think, and why. And why, and why, and why.
That was a rhetorical question.