Do you want to know how to fix your posture postpartum?
You’ve come to the right place.
In this post you’re going to learn why you develop mom posture and what to do to fix it.
Specifically you’re going to learn:
- What causes a hunch back and how to fix it,
- What causes rounded shoulders and how to fix it, and
- What causes anterior pelvic tilt and how to fix it.
Are you ready?
Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.
Ok, moving on.
How can I fix my mom posture?
Fixing your posture after pregnancy involves two things:
- Understanding what’s causing the bad posture in the first place, and
- Reversing the muscular imbalances leading to the posture.
Both are equally important, and you can’t do one without the other.
Let me explain why.
When you understand WHY you develop mom posture, you will be able to prevent yourself from developing it again.
If you do not address the reasons why bad posture happens in the first place, fixing it will only be a temporary solution. You will eventually find yourself in the same place all over again.
So first, let’s go over what causes mom posture.
Why Mom Posture Develops In the First Place
Bad posture is a result of staying in a suboptimal position for prolonged periods of time.
One of the most common examples is sitting.
When you were sitting down, the muscles in the front of your hips are in a flexed and shortened state. On the other hand, the muscles on the backside of your hips, specifically your gluteal muscles, are in a lengthened and weakened state.
This creates a muscle imbalance between the front and backside of your hips.
As a result, your pelvic bone, and all of the muscles attached to the pelvis will be in an anatomically different position.
This can lead to pain and injury in the low back and other adjacent areas.
And that’s just one of example.
This can happen in several muscle groups in your body including your neck, your shoulders, your upper back, and your low back.
As you could imagine, you may find yourself in the same position for prolonged periods of time throughout your pregnancy and postpartum course.
While bad posture may cause aesthetic problems, it can also cause musculoskeletal pain and injury.
Next, let’s talk about what you can do about it.
Ok – So How do I get my posture back after pregnancy?
Alright, now that you know why bad posture happens, let’s go over the most common postures and how to fix them.
How To Fix Forward Head Posture Postpartum
The first posture you need to be aware of is forward head posture.
This happens when there is a muscle imbalance between the muscles in the front of your neck and the muscles in the back of your neck.
Forward head posture is often caused by
- constantly looking down while you’re breastfeeding,
- constantly looking down at your phone,
- sitting in front of a computer for long hours,
- carrying a heavy load on your back,
- sleeping with your head elevated too high
As a result, your neck will be misaligned from the rest of your body, as your head protrudes forward.
This posture can often be seen with kyphosis, aka the dowager’s hump – which we will get to a little later.
Side Effects of Forward Head Posture
So what’s wrong with having a misaligned neck?
Here are some of the side effects you may experience:
- neck pain,
- upper back pain,
- shoulder pain, and/or
- cervical spine arthritis
Exercises For Forward Head Posture
Alright, now let’s go over some exercises to reverse forward head posture.
First of all, you need to strengthen the muscles in the front of your neck, aka the cervical flexors.
At the same time, you need to stretch and lengthen the muscles in the back of the neck, aka the cervical extensors.
If you also have kyphosis, you must address that posture as well- more on that later.
The best exercises for forward head posture are:
Chin tucks are the best way to strengthen the muscles of the anterior neck.
Here’s what they look like:
To do chin tucks, all you have to do is contract the muscles of your neck as you create a “double chin” position. Hold this position for several seconds, and repeat for 8-10 repetitions.
The second exercise you should do are neck mobilizations.
This sequence of movements is great for improving the range of motion of your neck muscles, while stretching the tightened muscles in the back of the neck.
This is what the movement should look like:
- First, tuck your chin and try to touch your chin to your chest.
- Secondly, look to the left without shrugging and hold that stretch for 5-10 seconds.
- Do the same on the right.
- Third, rotate your left ear down toward your shoulder, and hold that stretch for 5-10 seconds.
- Do the same on the right.
Repeat this sequence 3-5 times.
How To Prevent Forward Head Posture From Reoccurring
So now that you know what to do to reverse forward head, its important to prevent yourself from developing it again.
Here are a few tips:
- Set your computer screen height to match the level of your eyes.
- Bring your phone up toward your face rather than looking down at it.
- Use only one pillow to sleep.
- When sitting, keep your entire back in contact with the backrest and don’t lean your head forward.
So that takes care of forward head posture.
Now let’s move on to the next one.
How To Fix Kyphosis After Pregnancy
The second posture we are going to talk about is kyphosis.
This is when your upper back is excessively rounded – causing a “hump back” look.
This is also called a “dowager’s hump.”
This happens when there is a muscle imbalance between the muscles in your upper back and the muscles in your chest and anterior shoulders.
Kyphosis is caused by a lot of the same things that causes forward head posture:
- Carrying your baby without standing upright,
- Slouching while sitting,
- Sitting in front of a computer for long hours.
Side Effects Of A Hunch Back After Pregnancy
So what’s wrong with having a rounded thoracic spine?
Aside from the aesthetics, a rounded thoracic spine could cause:
- Shoulder pain,
- Neck pain,
- Impaired breathing, and/or
Exercises For Rounded Spine Postpartum
So now let’s go over three simple exercises you can do to treat kyphosis after pregnancy.
To fix kyphosis, you will need to:
- strengthen the muscles of your upper back,
- mobilize your thoracic spine, and
- stretch your chest and anterior shoulder muscles
Here are some great exercises to do just that.
Banded Shoulder Dislocations
The first exercise is the banded shoulder dislocation.
This exercise is great for improving shoulder health and mobilization, while simultaneously stretching the chest muscles.
You can do this exercise with a resistance band or a broomstick. I prefer you get some resistance bands as it will be easier to use (and they are versatile.)
Here is what they look like:
- Grab the resistance band slightly wider than shoulder-width with your arms straight and palms facing down.
- While keeping your elbows straight, begin lifting the band up out in front of you, and then up and over your head.
- Keep going until you bring the band all the way around to touch your butt while maintaining straight elbows.
- You should feel your chest open up, your upper back activate, and your shoulder mobilizing.
- Go slow and take your time.
- Keep going back and forth for the desired number of reps.
- Keep your glutes squeezed the entire time.
Thoracic Extensions on Foam Roller
The second exercise is the thoracic extension on a foam roller.
If you don’t have a foam roller, you should get one.
Here’s what the exercise looks like.
- Lie on the floor and place the foam roller horizontally across your mid-back.
- Bend your knees, place your feet flat on the floor, and bring your hands behind your head.
- Next, curl your upper back on the roller by arching your thoracic spine as much as you can.
- Make sure to keep your butt on the floor, and do not arch your lower back.
- Hold that stretched position for 3 seconds and return back to the starting position.
- Feel free to work your way up and down your spine, spending time in your problem areas.
Overhand Pec/Lat Stretch
The last exercise is a stretch.
The overhand pec/lat stretch will help improve the flexibility of your chest and latissimus dorsi muscles, while extending your thoracic spine.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Place your out-stretched hands against a wall shoulder-width apart.
- From here, try to bring your head and chest down toward the floor while keeping your hands firmly in place.
- You should feel a stretch in your chest and on your sides.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, making sure to take deep breaths as you hold it.
How To Prevent Kyphosis From Reoccurring Postpartum
So now that you know how to reverse a hunchback, its important to prevent yourself from developing it again.
Here are a few tips:
- When you are breastfeeding, don’t slouch, sit as upright as you can.
- Set your computer screen height to match the level of your eyes.
- Don’t sit for longer than 1 hour without standing up to take a stretching break.
Alright, that takes care of kyphosis.
Next, is the rounded shoulder.
How to Fix Rounded Shoulders
The third posture you need to be aware of is rounded shoulders.
In this position, your shoulders are internally rotated, and sitting in the front of the shoulder joint, (rather than in the center).
This posture occurs when there is a muscle imbalance between your posterior shoulders and upper back, relative to your chest and anterior shoulders.
As you can see, one bad posture often coexists with other bad postures, and they share similar etiologies.
Here are some common reasons why you might develop rounded shoulders postpartum:
- Always holding your baby in front of you without training your back muscles,
- Carrying a heavy purse with bad posture,
- Working in front of a computer for several hours,
- Excessive driving,
- Lack of awareness of shoulder position throughout the day,
Put simply, you tend to activate your anterior muscles much more than your posterior muscles, leading to relative weakness of the muscles in the back.
Side Effects Of Rounded Shoulders
Rounded shoulders usually leads to side effects at the shoulder joint.
This usually manifests as decreased shoulder range of motion and shoulder pain.
For example you may have:
- An inability to raise your arms overhead,
- Pain in the front of your shoulders, and/or
- Pain in the middle of your shoulders
Exercises For Rounded Shoulders Postpartum
In the rounded shoulder posture, your shoulders are fixed into internally rotated positions.
As a result, you need to retrain your shoulders to be in an externally rotated position.
At the same time, you will need to stretch your chest and anterior shoulders.
Here are some easy exercises you can do to help.
The W Band Pull Apart
The first exercise is the W Band Pull Apart. This movement will strengthen your posterior shoulder and train the external rotation movement.
To do this exercise, you will need a set of resistance bands which you can get on Amazon.
Here’s how it looks:
- Hold the resistance band with a shoulder-width grip, palms facing up.
- Next, place your elbows directly on your sides and bend your elbows halfway up as if you were curling the bands up.
- From here, pull the bands apart while keeping your elbows in contact with your sides, and your elbows bent.
- At the end range your elbows should create a W shape.
- Slowly reverse the movement and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Behind The Back Chest Openers
This next exercise is fairly simple. It can be done as a stretch or for repetitions to open the chest and externally rotate the shoulders.
This is how it looks:
- Simply clasp your hands behind your back with your elbows straight.
- Next, retract your shoulder blades as much as you can while opening up your chest.
- Hold this position for a few seconds, release, and repeat.
How To Prevent This Posture from Reoccurring
To prevent rounded shoulders from reoccurring, you must be aware of your posture throughout the day.
When you are carrying your baby, focus on keeping your scapula (shoulder blades) retracted.
The same goes for when you are using a computer or smart phone.
Don’t just let your shoulders glide forward at all times. Do your best to keep them retracted back, from time to time.
Okay, lastly let’s talk about your pelvis.
How To Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Okay, the last posture you need to be aware of is anterior pelvic tilt aka lordosis.
This is the posture we discussed earlier – which happens when there is an imbalance between the muscles of your hip flexors and your glutes.
When looking from the side, you will notice an excessive arch in the lower back, and a slight bulge of your abdomen.
Lordosis is very common in pregnancy, as the weight of the uterus shifts your center of gravity forward, changing the alignment of your spine.
In non-pregnant people, this posture is almost always caused from excessive sitting, which tilts your pelvis anteriorly.
Side Effects Of An Anterior Pelvic Tilt
When your pelvis is tilted into lordosis, you may experience one or more of these side effects.
- Low back pain,
- Knee pain,
- Hip pain, and/or
- Inability to extend the hips completely
Studies show that 50% of pregnant women experience pregnancy-related low back pain.
Exercises For Anterior Pelvic Tilt
So now let’s go over some exercises to fix anterior pelvic tilt/lordosis postpartum.
First of all, you need to:
- strengthen your glutes and your abs (because they are stretched and weakened), and
- at the same time, you need to stretch the muscles in your hip flexors.
Here are a few exercises to help you do exactly that.
Rocking Hip flexor stretch
The first exercise is the rocking hip flexor stretch. You can probably guess what the purpose of this exercise is.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Kneel down on one knee while keeping your other knee bent at a 90 degree angle.
- Next, squeeze the glute muscle of the bottom knee as hard as you can and maintain this position.
- From here, lean forward while maintaining a neutral spine.
- You should feel a stretch in the front of your hip.
- Rock back and forth in a slow controlled manner for the desired number of repetitions.
- Repeat on both sides.
The second exercise is the glute bridge. This is one movement that I come back to, again and again, for many reasons.
It is one of the best and easiest ways to activate the glute muscles – especially if they have been weakened during pregnancy.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Next, posteriorly tilt your pelvis by bracing your abs and flattening out the curve in your lower back.
- From here, squeeze your glutes hard to extend your hips.
- Be careful not to go too far (which can cause you to arch your lower back- which we don’t want).
- Hold the top position for 5 seconds and release.
- You can do this exercise for time, or for repetitions.
Dead Bugs With Pelvic Tilts
The third exercise is the deadbug with pelvic tilts. This movement will strengthen your abs from a safe unloaded position.
Here’s how it looks:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, and feet up in the air.
- Next, raise your arms up toward the ceiling. This is the starting position.
- From here, posteriorly tilt your pelvis as you did in the prior exercise.
- Next, begin lowering your right leg until it is parallel to the floor. At the same time, begin extending your left arm up and over your head until it is also parallel to the floor.
- Hold this position for 2-3 seconds without letting your lower back arch.
- Slowly return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg and arm.
How To Prevent Lordosis From Reoccurring Postpartum
As you are aware, lordosis is a common postural position that is hard to fix.
It is important that you minimize any positions that encourage an excessive arch in the lower back. You can do this by:
- minimizing the amount of time you spend sitting consecutively,
- training your glute muscles 1-2x per week (check out how to get rid of your mom butt to learn more),
- and training your ab muscles 1-2 per week (check out 100 exercises for diastasis recti to learn more).
Okay, so that takes care of all the postures you may have developed postpartum.
Now, let’s go over a few other questions I often hear.
How can I improve my posture while breastfeeding?
The best way to improve your posture while breastfeeding is to be aware of the bad postural positions you might get into.
That way, you can actively avoid them and correct them whenever you find yourself slipping into one of these positions.
In a nutshell,
- Keep your head up and do not look down at all times
- Don’t slouch, bring your baby up toward your breast (Remember you are the queen and your baby comes to you)
- Keep your shoulder blades retracted from time to time
Can pregnancy cause dowager’s hump?
Pregnancy can cause a dowager’s hump if you allow the weight of your uterus to constantly pull you into bad posture.
The posture you want to avoid is slouching.
It is important that you stand and sit up tall, whenever possible, and also, stretch your anterior side from time to time with the stretches shown above.
Do posture correctors work?
Posture correctors can certainly help you improve your posture if you use them regularly.
Bad posture is developed from being in a suboptimal position for long periods of time.
On that same token, you can definitely retrain your body to return to normal posture by staying in the proper position for long periods of time.
Final Words On How To Get Your Posture Back After Pregnancy
Fixing your posture after pregnancy is possible as long as you know what to look for and how to prevent it from happening again.
Take these exercises and these tips and practice them on a daily basis, and you should see improvements in as little as 6-12 weeks.
It’s totally worth it.
So, which of these postures do you have?
Are they causing you any pain?
Comment below and let me know!
Related Posts On Posture in Pregnancy
- Safe Yoga stretches You Can Do Postpartum
- 5 Easy Postpartum Back Pain Exercises You Can Do From Home
- An Easy Postpartum Workout For Beginners (Targets The Whole Body)
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Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT
Brittany N Robles is a full-time OBGYN, a NASM certified personal trainer, and health & fitness expert. She holds a Masters of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.
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