Side view of a female pelvis inside an outline of the body
Postpartum recovery isn’t just about your pelvic floor; Pregnancy changes your pelvis too.

If you’re addressing your pelvic floor muscles without addressing the bony structure they’re housed in, you’re missing a piece of the puzzle.

How Your Pelvis Changes During Pregnancy

As pregnancy progresses, the pelvis changes shape to accommodate the growing baby.

The hip bones actually externally rotate to create space in the pelvic inlet. As the hip bones rotate, the tail bone tucks under and comes closer to the pubic bone.

In addition, the pelvis may tilt forward or tuck under in order to balance the body’s changing center of mass.

These changes are sticky- meaning, our pelvis doesn’t just ‘snap back’ after pregnancy.

And in early postpartum, they can be compounded by typical baby holding postures.

This is a very candid picture from my daughter’s first birthday party. It’s also a perfect demo of baby-holding posture. You can see my pelvis is in front of my rib cage and my pelvis is tucked under.

This isn’t about something that you’re doing “wrong”.

It just is.

Like, our abs stretch out and our feet get wider.

The Shape Of Your Pelvis Dictates The Quality Of Your Movements

But there’s a couple reasons we don’t want to get STUCK here (and more than a couple of ways we can address it.. so hang tight.)

1) It makes it harder to move well.

If your pelvic is stuck in EXTERNAL rotation, you’re going to have a hard time finding INTERNAL rotation.

Maybe that sounds like gobblygook- but here’s the crux: it limits your movement options.

It makes it harder to sit, squat, bend over and pick stuff up from the floor (without a lower-back ache).

2) It can lead to pesky pelvic floor symptoms.

In an externally rotated pelvis, the pelvic floor muscles become shorter and tighter.

A tight pelvic floor shows up as feelings of heaviness, bulginess or pain (similar to symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse).

Even leaking. A lot of folks think they need more kegels (–> tightening the muscles) when it fact, they actually need to lengthen and relax the pelvic floor.

3) Your glutes will become less bodacious.

Just gotta say it.

In an externally rotated pelvis, the glutes become shorter and tighter. That translates to flatter.

“Mom butt”? This is part of it.

But it’s not just an aesthetic issue:

4) You won’t feel as strong or athletic.

The combo of loss of internal rotation and short, tight glutes make it harder to properly load and unload your legs during your walking or running gait cycle.

Your ability to create power during athletic movements will be limited.

The Fix: Choose Exercises That RESTORE Movement Options

To restore range of motion to your pelvis, your postpartum exercise program should include exercises to help you

1) create INTERNAL rotation
2) release tension from the BACK of your pelvic floor
3) find length in your glutes.

Curious what that might look like?

4 Exercises To Restore Range Of Motion To Your Pelvis And Length To Your Pelvic Floor

1) Rockback Breathing

In order to let your pelvic bones internally rotate, the posterior pelvic floor has to let go.

The Rockback Breathing exercise helps you to direct your breath to create expansion in the backside of your body and release those pelvic floor muscles (think: stretching from the inside out).

As you set up, let your lower back flex (curve) to help compress the front side of your body.

As you inhale, you’ll feel restricted relative to a normal, natural breath. Think about directing your breath to the back of your rib cage, mid-back and pelvic floor. It can be helpful to visualize “breathing into your butthole” to really let the back of your pelvic floor unclench.

2) Supported Mid-Range Squat With A Block Squeeze

The mid-range squat position will help you find internal rotation and length in glutes and pelvic floor muscles.

Place a yoga block between your thighs. Squeeze the block as you sit back into a squat. Only sit back as far as your knee crease and hip crease are in-line.

As you sit back, inhale, keeping your torso relatively upright and allowing your knees to come forward. 

It can be helpful to visualize your sit bones spreading and your glutes getting longer as you come to the lower position.

In the lowered position of the seat, you’ll feel loading or tension through your hamstrings (back of thighs) and glutes. Exhale and squeeze your glutes to come to stand.

3) Lateral Hip Shift

Hip shift exercises help to drive internal rotation of the pelvic bones and create length in the glutes. This movement is a prerequisite for effective loading (–> creating power) of the legs during running and walking.

4) Split Squat With Reach and Rotation

The Split Squat With Reach and Rotation is a higher demand exercise that puts the hip shift into practice. It also works the same plane of motion you use when you walk or run.

As you lower into the split squat, rotate your pelvis over your forward leg, facilitating a hip shift on that side.

Postpartum Rehab Isn’t Complete Without Addressing Your Pelvis

Since the shape of the pelvis can create tension in the pelvic floor, facilitating change in the PELVIS complements your pelvic floor rehab and recovery.

It’s not one or the other.

The exercises above offer a great laboratory to explore the ways you can facilitate change in your pelvis.

Want me to do the thinking for you??

I wrote a program for that- Check out Stronger Postpartum, my signature 16-week return-to-exercise program.

I also offer individualized programming, please inquire about personal training to address your unique goals and circumstances.

Connect with me on Instagram!

For more expert info on pregnancy and postpartum fitness, pelvic health and childbirth, follow me on Instagram!
Redmond, WA-based Seattle birth doula Laura Jawad, headshot

My mission is to make sure that having a baby is not a reason why you can’t do all the things.

I offer customized, online pregnancy and postpartum personal training to folks locally (Seattle-area, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland) and beyond.

Laura Jawad holds a PhD and a personal training certification (NASM). She’s a proud Certified Prenatal & Postnatal Coach and Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach. You can check out the rest of her alphabet soup here.

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