The Science Behind the Pregnancy Waddle

Pregnancy causes a lot of bodily changes, including the way you walk.
ByChristine Cordova
Associate Social Editor
Published
Jun 2016
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Photo: Shutterstock

An inevitable pregnancy symptom with no real treatment? That trademark ‘pregnancy waddle.’ But a new study is taking a closer look at the gaits of moms-to-be, aiming to help them move safer and more comfortably down the road.

The Hiroshima University study found pregnant women’s movements begin to change as early as the first tirmester, when the center of mass is farther forward. This causes them to lean back more while standing and to bend the hips less while walking. The study found accidental falls cause 10 to 25 percent of trauma injuries during pregnancy; a pregnant woman’s risk of falling is the same as a woman who is 70 years old.

“This model is just the start of our goal of contributing to a safe and comfortable life before and after childbirth for pregnant women," writes Yasuyo Sunaga, a doctoral student and author of the recent research paper. "We want to find the ideal way for new mothers to carry their baby, what exercises are most effective to return to non-pregnant fitness, and what physical postures are best for work in the home or office. Now that we have the appropriate data, we hope to apply our model and make it possible to problem-solve these concerns of daily life.”

The researchers used infrared cameras and 3D motion capture to record the biomechanics of 15 women, eight of whom were expecting. After analyzing the images from three different points of pregnancy, they created virtual models of an average mom-to-be.

Wondering about some of the less-noticeable changes happening to your body right now? We’ve rounded up 10 here.

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