Upper Body Changes During Pregnancy

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

1. Breast Growth

a. Probably one of the most obvious upper body changes is the size of your breasts. Now, for some women, this is more noticeable than for others and it affects all women differently. Many women have increased back pain due to the additional weight in the front of their bodies. Bra size usually increases, and breasts can often become very tender. 

b. Tips to accommodate breast growth:

i. Make sure that you buy bras that fit well and are supportive.

ii. If tenderness is an issue, limit movements during exercise that cause a lot of bouncing.

2. Posture Changes

a. This change is a little bit more subtle and you may not even realize that your posture is changing or has changed until you actually evaluate it. Because of the increased weight at the front of your body from both your growing breasts and growing belly, the shoulders tend to round forward and lean into that weight. Rounded shoulders can cause a lot of pain in your upper back as well as up into your neck. 

b. Tips to maintain good posture:

i. Perform upper body exercises regularly to strengthen your back muscles

ii. Be mindful of your posture throughout the day and correct yourself when you notice your shoulders are rounded.

Note: this doesn’t mean you need to throw your shoulders back and thrust out your ribcage. Try to keep your shoulders over ribs over hips in a neutral position.

iii. Be aware of your posture even when you’re sitting. Avoid sitting in the same position for too long and sit up straight when possible. 

3. Abdominal Pain

a. The process of the baby growing, and your belly expanding can be quite uncomfortable and even painful at times. As the muscles and ligaments in your belly are stretched, you may experience abdominal pain, especially in the second and third trimesters. 

b. Tips for decreasing abdominal pain:

i. Use a belly band or other device to support your belly and give some relief to those stretched muscles. 

ii. Continue to exercise your abdominal muscles throughout pregnancy as you are able. A lot of these exercises will not be your traditional core exercises – especially as your progress through your pregnancy. Work on engaging your transverse abdominals and your obliques and pelvic floor muscles. 

Keeping your back muscles strong throughout pregnancy and even into postpartum, is critical to your upper body health. As you experience all of these changes, you want to ensure that you are keeping up your strength as best as possible in order to moderate the weight being added to the front of your body. Keep an eye out this week for some great upper body exercises during pregnancy!

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