Poor Posture Post-Partum

Archived Q&A and Reviews


June 2003

I had pretty mediocre posture before having a baby, but now its horrible. Im all ''S'' shaped from hunching my shoulders over and jutting out my hips.

I try to be mindful of my slouching. When I think about it I walk around properly aligned, and try to look down with my eyes not my neck , but ususally I slip right back in to slumped (like right now). And whenever I hold that baby it seems impossible not to be all hunched over.

I fantasize about fixing it with a brace like Deenie wore (Judy Blume book about girl with scoliosis), do things like this exist?? Is it too late? Am I gonna be slouchy forever?

Any advice on how to improve my postute would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Slumpy

I have one word for you. ''Yoga'' Doing yoga will improve your posture, make you more aware of body alignment in general, and be far better for you than wearing some kind of brace. (Another possibility would be the Alexander Technique, which also focuses on good posture.) Diane

before trying a brace, i highly recommend starting individual and/or group pilates lessons. doing a pilates program 3-4 times a week created an immeasurable change in my own postpartum posture (bad before kid, worse after nursing & carrying a baby!!). Pilates training will also strenghten your back and stomach (core/abdominal) muscles as you strengthen the muscles along your spine--you'll feel better, have better posture, and be generally more fit! jessica

Hi- I am also someone who had ''mediocre'' posture before having my baby in January, and AWFUL posture afterwards. After the baby was born, I kept thinking the My Brest Friend was made wrong, my glider wasn't properly supportive, etc. Finally one day my husband suggested that I stand with my back against a wall and it felt like I was going to fall over backwards to just touch my shoulders against it. I guess it has to do with the different center of gravity, hunching to nurse, etc. What I did was try to make myself line up by standing against the wall every once in awhile to see what standing straight actually felt like. I also recently bought a (Maclaren) stroller with adjustable handles. It was expensive but I decided it was worth it to be able to put the handles a little higher than I needed to force me to stand up straight. It seems to be helping. Good luck. Patty

Have you tried yoga? I find that even if I just go once a week, I feel somehow taller and straighter--more mindful of my posture, and how I carry myself, and less prone to minor aches and creaks when I wake up in the morning.

There are people out there who swear by yoga videos, but I have to go to a class, to have the instructor tell and show me in person how to do (and not do) the postures and breathing. The class I attend is out of the Albany community center, but I know there are tons out there, and any number may be a good fit for you and your schedule. Donna

During pregnancy, the pelvis tips to the back in response to the growing weight of the baby. This in turn, changes the alignment of the entire spine. What you are experiencing is a classic post pregnancy Kyphotic/Lordotic (ie. too much ''S'' shape) posture. When the spine is out of good functional bablance, certain muscle groups get too tight, and opposing muscle groups weaken and arophy. Also, till about six months postpartum, your ligaments (which provide stability and alignment to joints) are long and don't adequately support the body's joints. Thight muscles pull the loosened body out of position, exacerbating posture problems, continuing the cycle.

In a nut shell, your want to lengthen muscle groups that have shortened during pregnancy, and restore strength to muscle groups that have weakened, and restore core stength to the spine. For more info check out my web site, www.exerciseafterpregnancy.com.

I also teach reconditioning classes for new moms that focus on these issues the Post Pregnancy Exercise Workshops, in the Montclair neighborhood of Oakland. Helene Byrne hbyrne at mac.com

Dear Slumpy, I don't know if this would be something you would like, but I have found that yoga has changed my posture incredibly. It's taken a while, but now I actually know how to stand and have the muscles developed to support me. It's a great feeling. There are tons of yoga studios in the bay area, and there are even some specifically for post-partum. Good luck Irene

My mother always complained about my slouching as a teenager. In my early 30's, I went to see a terrific chiropractor for the first time after a minor car accident. I ''grew'' an inch and a half and stood straight easily -- all without ''thinking'' about it. So, perhaps you are out of alignment (my hips and neck alignment were pulling my shoulders down), and no amount of simply thinking about standing up straight is really going to help. I wish I had gone as a teenager, as it could have saved me and my mom some nagging between us. A postpartum correction may also be helpful if things are worse now -- childbirth can be awfully hard on your skeleton. Anyway, just an avenue you might want to try if you haven't already -- and a lot easier and healthier than a brace, so I recommend trying this first. Another point I'd like to pass on is that learning to hold and feed a baby was very difficult for me (and good posture was nearly imposible), which led to some carpal tunnel-type problems in my wrists (or what I liked to refer to as ''repetitive breast injury''). Seeing a chiropractor during these times was also helpful; although visits did not completely solve the problem, they probably helped it from getting worse than it was. anon

About bad post-partum posture, I will give you my perspective as a pilates teacher. Pregnancy will tend to accentuate the ''S'' curve in the back that you are asking about. To correct this you need a combination of stretches and strengthening exercises. In particular you will need to strengthen the abs, upper back, and pelvic floor and open the chest and other stretches. Carrying your baby will put even more strain on what sounds like weakened back muscles from your description. Mental images of good posture are great, but you will need to get started on a good exercise routine as well. Pilates is great for this, as it address postural imbalances. You definitely don't want to ignore this as postural imbalances can cause other problems down the road ( I do lots of post-rehabilitative work on people who have let things go too long) and then it can take much longer to address. Wearing a sling is unfortunately not the answer- you need to be able to give yourself that support. Besides, braces are not very comfortable from what I have heard and are used in such situations as bad backs or in severe scoliosis when the person suffering form scoliosis is very young and going through rapid growth spurts. As an adjunct to pilates I would recommend body work such as hellerwork or deep tissue or structural integration- this will facilitate the changes you wish to make in your posture, by releasing old holding patterns as you try and establish new ones. I don't think that changing your posture is hopeless. It does take work, but if you work hard at it should not take that long. And, you will probably end up with better posture than before your pregancy. Besides pilates is great for toning and streamlining the body.

I would be glad to answer any other questions you have. I have a pilates studio ( You can check out our website at www.optimumpilates.com.) where both myself and a couple other pilates teachers work and we would be glad to work with you, help you get started in the right direction or give you recommendations. Good luck and don't be discouraged. Andrea

Hi, I'm a teacher of the Alexander Technique and my specialty is working with new moms. The Alexander Technique deals with discovering and undoing unconscious, habitual tensions. As our awareness increases, our natural posture and ease reemerge. Babies are such a great barometer for our tensions and when we relax, they relax. So we are not only doing ourselves a favor, but the next generation as well. I have a 2 year old son and the Alexander Tecnhique has helped keep my body relaxed and comfortable as he's growing. Call if you want to talk. I do private sessions and small group classes. My number is (510)482-2276. Susan Schreier bodywiz at hotmail.com