There is quite a controversy in the literature as to whether you should or should not exercise on your back after week 20. I tend to encourage my clients to abide to the 20-week rule to avoid lower back pain and stay on the safe side. Here is why…
The first reason is to be IVCS-free and relax during your practice.
With the baby weighing on average 300-350g when you reach the mid-point of your pregnancy, the vena cava and aorta that run along your spine may get compressed by the fetus. The vena cava is a vein that carries deoxygenated blood to your heart, and there is no doubt that good blood flow is critical to your own and your baby’s survival.
It is true that if you pay attention to signs of dizziness, sharp pain in your right-hand side, or muscle twitching whilst exercising, you can avoid the impact of IVCS (Inferior Vena Cava Syndrome) on your baby. Most scientific articles on the subject highlight that between your experiencing the first symptoms and the moment when reduced blood flow to your baby occurs, there is time. It is also true that the risk of IVCS is estimated at an average 1/10,000.
But why worry through your workout when you are there to practice your breathing or work your gluts and crunch-free abdominals (for tips look this up)?
So in my prenatal classes, I encourage ladies to work side lying and in a four-point kneeling position a lot, and I also rely on three useful props: wedges, spine correctors/arc barrels, and swiss balls.
The second reason why I prefer alternatives to lying on your back is that I have noticed it contributes to reducing lower back pain.
This does not come from my exploring the literature, but rather from my experience with two beautiful clients this year.
I met S. when she was 8 weeks pregnant and K. when she was 17 weeks pregnant. Both of them are used to working out intensively. They have now reached respectively 32 and 34 weeks and are still coming to class! Around the 20-week marker they both started experiencing rather sharp lower back pain, particularly sharp given their level of fitness and core strength.
When they stopped exercising on their backs, and worked on their posture accordingly, the pain lessened for S. and stopped completely for K. I don’t need any more proof to feel more comfortable switching to the billion exercises that can be done side lying, in a cat position, or with props with my « pregnant ladies ».
Here are a few exercises on the spine corrector, a beautiful piece of equipment I encourage you to try out! 2 videos are on their way: one for your gluts, one for your abs 🙂