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“Hug the Baby”

Hi! Welcome to Hug the Baby!

“Hug the baby” is a term I use to describe proper posture during pregnancy - supporting the weight of the baby, and protecting vulnerable joints by engaging the abdominals while pregnant.

Instead of ‘belly to the spine,’ I say ‘baby to the spine’ or ‘hug the baby.’ The action of hugging the baby or bringing baby to the spine, brings the fetus closer to the body so the extra weight does not compromise posture or add weight onto the spine and surrounding joints.

Safe For All 3 Trimesters 

Why Hug the Baby

By learning to ‘hug the baby,’ we:

1. Strengthen the abs and pelvic floor

2. Prevents and alleviates back pain by supporting our surrounding joints.

3. Feel stronger and more in-control over what is happening to our bodies.

4. Decrease our succeptibility to Diastasis Recti

5. Overall we keep our posture in tip-top shape!

If you have ever been pregnant, you may know the pains associated with the amazing changes the body goes through to prepare for the growth of the fetus and ultimately the birth.

Hugging the baby helps to alleviate those pains!

How to Hug the Baby

As with any form of physical activity, please check with your doctor before starting a new workout routine

Hugging the Baby:

1. Stand up tall, lengthening the spine to the ceiling, like you have a string on the top of your head.

2. Inhale, allowing air to fill the lungs, expanding the sides and back of the ribs (Lateral Thoracic Breathing).  

2. Exhale, hugging the baby (pulling baby or belly to the spine), while also lifting the pelvic floor. Keep the pelvis neutral (don’t tuck). This action contracts the transverse abdominals and  pelvic floor creating a total support system for the fetus. 

4.  Feel equal weight on your feet, pressing down into the floor. You should feel a vertical,  oppositional pull through the spine, up through the top of the head, down through your feet.

5. Continue with lateral thoracic breathing feeling the spine lengthen every time you exhale.

Poor posture is simply an invitation for life-stopping back pain. No matter where you are, think about lifting your head up and back, as if a string were pulling the top of your head toward the ceiling. As you lift up, you relieve some of the tension in your spine. (YOU Having a Baby, pg. 216)

Hug the Baby Posture 2nd Trimester

Hug the Baby Posture 2nd Trimester

NOT Hugging the Baby

NOT Hugging the Baby with Horrible Posture!

Hugging the Baby
When to Hug the Baby
  • On all 4’s when gravity is pulling baby away from your center
  • When standing for long periods of time and your back begins to hurt – at the grocery store, in the kitchen, etc.
  • Any time you’re working out
  • Driving
  • Doing chores
  • Getting out of bed or into bed
  • Blow drying your hair
  • When your laying on the couch and your cat, dog, or kid is about to walk over your stomach
  • Can you think of any others?
Hug the Baby extras

Anytime we practice a certain position for long periods, the muscles and joints can become tight and uncomfortable. This is why breathing is crucial, and checking to make sure your posture is active – having energy through the spine with supported limbs, not tight, static limbs.

To prevent tightening up, add Pelvic Tilts and Standing Roll-Downs to Hug the Baby. These movements will keep the spine mobile and help prevent pain, especially in the low back.

Pelvic Tilting

Neutral - Your neutral or natural position when standing.

1. “Hug the Baby” Neutral – Your neutral or natural position when standing.

Pelvic Tilt: C-Curve-Tucking the Pelvis

2. Pelvic Tilt:             C-Curve-Tucking the Pelvis

Neutral - Your neutral or natural position when standing.

3. Return to Hug the Baby posture

Roll-Downs

Hug the Baby Posture

1. Hug the Baby Posture-Inhale

2. Tuck the Chin and Soften the Knees

2. Exhale – Tuck the Chin and Soften the Knees (this helps soften the low back)

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3. Continue Exhlae-Roll-Down (You can roll-down as far as you comfortably can)

4. Inhale at bottom

4. Inhale at bottom

4. Roll up keeping knees slightly bent, hugging the baby.

5.  Exhale – Roll up keeping knees slightly bent, hugging the baby.

Hug the Baby Posture

6. Return to Hug the Baby Posture

The beauty of these simple movements is that they can be done anywhere, at almost anytime. Yes, I’m talking about standing in the long line at the kids’ consignment sale and your back begins to get tight. I’m sure some savvy moms would be happy to join right in on some tilting and rolling with you! And if you’ve got little ones, get them in on the action too!

Contact Me! Alison B. Marsh at HugtheBabyPilates@gmail.com

Resources:

Book:

YOU: Having a Baby, Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen MD

Copyright 2015

Pelvic girdle

Hip and Pelvic Pain during Pregnancy

Pelvic Pain- Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) 

The miracle of growing a human in your body also comes with the miracle of just the right amount of changes, that include pain in several areas!

As early as the first trimester of pregnancy, a woman may begin to feel pain in her sacrum (as I did). As the fetus grows and the uterus expands into the second trimester, more pains expand into the body, including the infamous pelvic and hip pain.

Walking, standing, sitting, rolling over in bed, can all be painful due to the shifting and loosening of the hip and pelvic joints. This loosening is preparing those hips to accompany a small human to enter the world.

the pregnant Pelvis: What’s Happening to My Body?!?!

Here is a short anatomy and physiology lesson on the pregnant pelvis:

Hormones Relaxin and Progesterone

These remarkable hormones are responsible for the loosening of the joints and ligaments, particularly in the hips and pelvis-the sacroiliac joints and pubic symphysis joint (explained below).  While this is absolutely necessary to accompany the growing fetus and expanding pregnant uterus, and ultimately the birth, the instability causes pain in the hips and pelvis. These hormones also cause lax joints and ligaments in other areas of the body, resulting in issues such as a pregnant woman’s susceptibility to sprained ankles.

The Sacrum 

 Pelvic JointsThis fused vertebrae, posterior (in the back of) of the pelvis, provides maximum stability for the spine when positioned neutrally. In pregnancy, the top of pelvis tends to tilt anteriorly (forward), causing sacrum to tilt up and the low back to sway into an exaggerated arch (lordosis.)

Pelvic tilts (shown below) can help mom-to-be find her neutral during pregnancy, bringing the sacrum back to its most stable position.

Sacroilliac Joints

These joints attach the sacrum to the hip bones, normally allowing limited movement in the sacrum (nutation and counternutation). During pregnancy, these joints loosen (due to the hormones relaxin and progesterone) causing hyper mobility, contributing to the pelvic pain problem.

Pubic Symphysis Joint -

This is a normally a somewhat flexible band of cartilage that links the two halves of the pelvis together, allowing independent movement of the hip bones while walking. Loosening of this joint is the primary reason for pelvic pain. In women, the pubic symphysis is created wider and more flexible than in men to allow the pelvis to stretch during child-birth.

Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor is a group of small, long muscles that create a sling-like support in the pelvis. These muscles connect to the joints of the sacrum, coccyx, and hip bones. A strong, flexible pelvic floor helps to stabilize the upper torso and hip area, prevents incontinence (peeing when you laugh), supports the weight of the uterus, bladder, and bowels, and makes the bladder and bowels functional. The pelvic floor works with the transverse abdominals to provide optimum stability of the core.

How Pilates can Help:

Pelvic Floor Strengthening and Awareness

Proper strengthening and awareness involves learning how to contract and release the pelvic floor muscles without involving the butt muscles, inner thighs, or abdominals. Kegels are the most popular form of pelvic floor exercises. In addition to Kegels, try this exercise:

Zipping and Unzipping

1. Become aware of the pelvic floor by contracting and releasing.Zipping Up

2. Imagine your pelvic floor is a zipper. Start at the bottom of the ‘zip’ and slowly contract the pelvic walls together as if zipping up a pair of jeans.

3. Once you have zipped to the top, slowly begin to ‘unzip’ the pelvic walls

Do this 5-10 times at least once a day. The great thing about practicing pelvic floor exercises is you can do them anywhere and no one needs to know (so if you do end up practicing while standing in-line at the store, be aware of your facial expressions!)

This practice of contracting and releasing control is incredibly beneficial during all stages of pregnancy, before and after. During the 3rd trimester, put emphasis on releasing the pelvic floor to prepare for the birth.

 Pelvic Tilts

Much of the problem with pain stems from the body’s effort to rebalance its center of gravity. Pelvic tilts along with proper engagement of the pelvic floor will help keep the low back from tightening up, and keep the pelvis properly aligned as the uterus grows.

1. Stand in your neutral position (Image A.)

2. Engage the pelvic floor, then tilt the top of your pelvis back and the sacrum and tailbone under. This is your pelvic tilt. (Image B.)

3. Return to Neutral and repeat pelvic tilt 5-10 times. Can be done every day, multiple times a day.

Neutral - Your neutral or natural position when standing.

A. Neutral – Your neutral or natural position when standing.

Pelvic Tilt: C-Curve-Tucking the Pelvis

B. Pelvic Tilt: C-Curve-Tucking the Pelvis

Click here for a comprehensive list of resources related to anatomy and pregnancy 

Thank you for investing your time on Hug the Baby!

I would love to hear from you! Questions? Comments? E-mail me, Alison B, Marsh, at HugtheBabyPilates@gmail.com or fill out the form below.

Pregnant Breathing: Lateral Thoracic Breathing

The pregnant body goes through miraculous changes to support the even more miraculous human being growing inside of the womb. One of those changes is in the respiratory system.

At rest the amount of air breathed increases by 40-50% or more because of an increase in the depth of each breath. This is a result of elevated levels of progesterone, which initiates over-breathing, by increasing the sensitivity of the respiratory center in the brain to carbon dioxide. (Dr. Clapp, 28)

In addition to these system changes, are the physical changes happening within the torso. As the uterus expands upward, the diaphragm is pushed upward (along with the other organs in the way such as the stomach and colon) and the ribcage expands. This is why Lateral Thoracic Breathing is beneficial, allowing for efficiency of breath. 

How to Breath Efficiently:

1. Inhale through the nose, filling the lungs by focusing the breath into the back like your filling a balloon (your diaphragm)
- Back and sides of the ribs should expand
- Allow the chest to rise

2.  Exhale through the mouth, deflating the lungs like your deflating a balloon

- Lengthen Spine
- Back of the ribs should pull back in
- Belly sinks back further – Hugging the baby to your spine

Lateral Thoracic Breathing

Lateral Thoracic Breathing Handout Complimentary PDF

Why Lateral Thoracic Breathing?

-to create space in your torso for your growing baby by lengthening your spine and stretching the ribcage. 

-to take more efficient breaths providing more oxygen for you and baby, 

-to relieve stress by calming the nervous system.

Contact Alison B. Marsh at HugtheBabyPilates@gmail.com