What is relaxin during pregnancy?
When you’re pregnant you have more of a hormone called relaxin in your body. This is the hormone that relaxes the ligaments in your pelvis and softens and lengthens you’re cervix, in preparation for your baby’s arrival.
It’s easy to over stretch during pregnancy, due to the relaxin. To prevent this and to stop problems with instability for years to come, it’s worth taking action early. You can try gentle exercise, but it’s important to focus on strength and stability, rather than flexibility. You could try pregnancy yoga, but ensure you tell the teacher about any aches and pains in advance. Slow, safe and gentle is the best way forward.
I have people in my yoga classes with relaxin related issues, leading to pelvic pain and issues with their lower back, amongst other issues. If I know they’re struggling I tell them not to do any asanas (positions) where the hips are opening and we don’t do any balances, as this can fuel the feeling of instability, leading to injury. Instead we will focus on strength and stabilising and we’ll really work the pelvic floor.
You may be cursing relaxin for your aching hips and gastrointestinal discomfort, but when you’re trying to move your baby down your birth canal you’ll be glad of it!
Relaxin can make you feel unsteady on your feet during pregnancy and you may feel a bit shaky. This is simply because of the ligaments loosening, particularly around the pelvis and lower back. If you feel like this please take care going about your daily tasks, you might need to slow down a bit and think about your movements a bit more. For example, when you get out of bed or out of the car move both legs together, don’t swing one leg out and then the other. Keep your knees together and your hips level. Remember if your house was made of elastic bands, rather than bricks and mortar it’d be shaky too!
If you do have these pregnancy aches and pains please don’t think it’s something you have to put up with. Seeing a women’s health physio can make a huge difference, it could actually change your whole pregnancy experience (if you live near me in Essex I’m happy to recommend someone). You can also try yoga or pilates for strengthening, and also remember to do lots of pelvic floor exercises. A strong and healthy pelvic floor can really help to support you. Exercising in water can be great, the water really supports your body and can feel amazing when you feel heavy and sore.
The Pelvic Partnership is a great resource for more information, you may be suffering with pelvic girdle pain (PGP), so have a quick look here https://pelvicpartnership.org.uk
I’d also recommend telling your midwife about how you feel, and they may offer some advice and refer you to a physio.
Please do let me know if you have any questions about this. Also please do take a look at my website for information about my doula and yoga services, plus various workshops https://breathebirthyoga.co.uk/