It's not uncommon for pregnancy and parenthood to seriously affect your posture, causing aches, pains and other physical changes. As breasts grow during pregnancy, the increased weight tends to round shoulders and position the head forward, causing a hunchback-like posture that's already worsened by hours in front of a computer screen and behind the wheel of a car. In this position, the curve of the back causes muscles to tighten and abdominal muscles to lose strength. Here are a few simple changes you can make to combat postural changes that lead to an achy neck and back.
Ergonomics: Roll up a towel and place it behind your back when sitting at your desk or in a car. Make sure your keyboard or steering wheel is at a proper height — your shoulders shouldn't lift up towards your ears since this leads to tension in the neck.
Stretches: It only takes three minutes of stretching to make a big difference in how you feel throughout the day. If you sit a lot at work, take a few minutes each hour to stand up and mobilize your lower back. A quick exercise to reduce stiffness in the spine: Stand with knees slightly bent and hands above the knees and alternating lifting and tucking your hips under the tailbone for 8 to 10 reps. If you feel tightness in the lower back, do some simple lumbar stretches at least once a day. And if most of your tension is in your neck, a short series of neck and shoulder stretches can sort you out in no time!
Core Strengthening: Everyone who is or has been pregnant tends to experience weakness in the abdominal muscles. Since your abs are the stabilizing force of your lower back, weakness in the core as it stretches out is often the culprit in low back pain. It's especially important to do core exercises to help maintain muscle tone during pregnancy and regain strength faster after baby. Even a short core routine done daily can have long-term benefits in reducing pain and discomfort as well as restoring the postpartum waistline.