back bends during pregnancy & avoiding diastasis recti
Deep back bending is generally not recommended during pregnancy. This is because as the baby grows and the abdominal organs are pushed up and out of place, the linea alba, the connective tissue that runs down the midline of the abdominal muscles stretches to accommodate the growing belly. Putting too much pressure on the abdominal wall puts mamas at risk for developing diastasis recti (the over stretching or tearing away of the rectus abdominis from the linea alba) and pubic symphysis dysfunction (inflammation and pain of the pubic bone). Deep backbends can also lead to sacroiliac joint imbalances, which can lead to sciatica (a common complaint among pregnant women). With the hormone relaxin present in the body during pregnancy, all of the ligaments of the pelvis are loose. If a backbend isn't performed perfectly symmetrically, one side of the pelvis easily slips up at the SI joint causing low back pain and potentially sciatica.
However, it can feel good to stretch the front of the body during pregnancy. As the weight of the baby energetically pulls the body forward, backbending is a great way to counter depression and heaviness. By practicing backbends that target only the thoracic spine, we get the delicious sensation of opening only where we really need it. There are many ways to modify backbends so you can still enjoy the exhilarating feeling of opening your heart.
Ustrasana (Camel Pose) with blocks and a bolster is a great heart opening posture to practice during pregnancy. The extra height allows allows one to press down into the hands to get that upper backbend, without putting pressure on the abdominal wall.
Come to standing on the shins with the knees beneath the hips.
Place the blocks toward the outsides of the ankles in the highest position and set the bolster on top of the blocks (you can use additional blocks, a pillow, or a couch cushion if you don’t have a bolster) .
Press the shins into the earth and feel the inner thighs roll back toward your big toes.
Try to keep the hips over the knees while bringing your hands to the bolster with the fingertips facing you.
Press the hands down to lift the heart to the sky. The head can drop back or not, it is personal preference.
Stay for at least 8 cycles of breath. Allow the heart to open and feel a lifting of weight off the front of your body.