One of the best things about being a Workman employee is that we’re often just one phone call away from expert advice. Three of our pregnant colleagues took advantage of this perk and asked body expert Elaine Petrone, author of the new Miracle Ball Method for Pregnancy (and the million-copy bestseller Miracle Ball Method), for tips on managing the aches and pains of pregnancy. She was happy to oblige!
Q: Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had some dull, achy pains along the sides of my abdomen. What to Expect tells me this could be “Round Ligament Pain,” or growing pains of the ligaments around my uterus! Is there any relief for these cramps as my uterus continues to grow? –Melody, 17 weeks
ELAINE: Yes, breathe! As the baby gets larger it pushes up against your diaphragm which can make it harder to breathe. Most of us breathe with our upper chest as opposed to our diaphragm (which is lower down). By lengthening your exhalation and making an S-sound, you can retrain yourself to breathe from the diaphragm and improve circulation which then sends oxygen to areas where you may be experiencing cramps.
Try 10-15 minutes a day. With your hands against the sides of your waist, make a gentle exhalation while making a “SSSS” sound. Can you feel these muscles working to exhale? At the end of the exhalation feel the muscles under your hands expand as the breath gets pulled deeper into your body. After repeating three times slowly, check in with your natural breathing. Bring your attention to the areas that are cramping. Do you feel the effects of the oxygen as it gets deeper into your body, easing up these tight muscles? Let your whole body rest as you do this. This breathing can be done sitting cross legged on the floor or lying down on your back. When you are past 20 weeks you can lie on your side.
Each time you make the “S sound” you may find that the muscles respond easier to the inhalation. Some people find counting helps them to lengthen their inhalations and their exhalations. Good luck!
I’m dealing with a lot of lower back pain. Is there anything I can do? –Courtney, 26 weeks
ELAINE: Get on the ball! As you get larger (and for some of us, this happens quite early), the pelvis begins to tilt and as a result the lower back muscles shorten. To take the pressure off of your lower back, lie on the floor and place a Miracle Ball under your pelvis (one under each hip is great, too.) If you are past 20 weeks, remove one ball so your pelvis leans to one side and takes pressure of the vena cava. Breathe using the “S sound” technique described above and let your weight sink into the ball(s). As the tension releases, more blood and oxygen can get to those lower back muscles and the pain will lessen.
I haven’t gained much weight yet, but—and this seems weird—my tailbone clicks when I walk! And though it didn’t use to be painful, it seems to have spread and be having an effect on my lower back now. What can I do to keep this from getting worse when I’m 35 weeks in? –Megan, 17 weeks
ELAINE: The growing weight of the baby can compromise the ability of our legs and hips to support the lower back. By toning your leg muscles, you can help take pressure off the lower back and hips and help you walk with more ease.
Lying on your side (try this in bed!), place a ball between your inner thighs close to your knees. Let the weight of your top leg give into the ball. Breathe using the “S sound” technique described above. Give yourself a minute or two to feel the tension drain out of your legs and hips. Gradually, begin to slide the top knee an inch or two forward, past the bottom knee. Notice how the hips gently move. Then slide your knee back, letting your top knee move a little past the bottom knee. Repeat slowly, two or three times. These gradual, gentle movements are amazingly effective at loosening your lower back muscles.