THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE: MISUSE IN PREGNANCY

In four-legged animals the weight of pregnancy is distributed over four legs, but in humans all the extra weight (the baby, the uterus and the breasts) is carried at the front of the body. Because there is more weight in front there is an increased tendency for the body to fall forwards. The muscles at the back of the body therefore have to work more to maintain the balance. From an Alexander perspective, misuse is when this increased muscular activity is concentrated in specific areas.

The way in which a pregnant woman compensates for the increased imbalance will reflect her habitual misuse. If she has a tendency to an over-tense posture, she will pull her head and upper back backwards, by over-contracting the muscles of the lower back. The woman with a more collapsed posture will give up all attempt to retain her uprightness. In both cases the deep muscles in the pelvis and the muscles of the legs have to work extremely hard to maintain the balance, and there will be excessive tension in the joints, which will restrict their range of movement. The ligaments are also put under a lot of strain, because instead of doing their normal job -which is to make the joints more stable - they have to do a great deal of the work of supporting the body (which should be done by the muscles).

Unfortunately, instead of stabilizing the balance, this way of compensating creates a vicious circle of misuse. In both the over-tense posture and the collapsed posture, the lower back is allowed to curve forwards excessively, which throws the weight of the baby even more forwards. The body then has to further compensate by contracting muscles in an attempt to bring the centre of gravity back. And so it goes on, made worse by the fact that the baby meanwhile is increasing in size. This gives us the commonly accepted image of the pregnant woman having a very hollow back with the pregnancy carried far out in front. Some pregnancy books even suggest this is a physiologically natural aspect of pregnancy!

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LIFE WITH YOUR NEW BABY

After you give birth, you'll discover a new world with your baby. The physical and emotional changes you'll experience, along with the increased responsibility, may leave you feeling overwhelmed. And the desire to do everything "right," from feeding and bathing your baby to keeping the toilets scrubbed, can only increase the pressure.

Don't feel you have to brave parenthood alone. Arranging for help and setting up a support system before your baby arrives will ensure that you can manage - and enjoy - the first few weeks with your little one. Think now about the kind of help you'll need. For example, you may want:

  • Help with baby care, including breastfeeding, bathing, comforting, and so on
  • Help with household tasks, like meal preparation and laundry
  • Transportation to medical appointments, the grocery store or pharmacy, and so on
  • Companionship

Ask for help whenever you need it; this isn't the time to be reserved. And always remember this advice: If someone offers you help, whether it's to watch the baby so you can take a quick shower or to drive you to the grocery store, take the offer!

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