The Pregnancy Waddle: Why it Happens and How to Move Safely

It’s no secret that your body goes through some pretty major changes during pregnancy–and one of the biggest ones is a growing bump. And it’s no secret that “the bump” becomes the center of your world: it’s where you feel kicks, connect with your baby, and what stretches out your favorite tops.

But that bump causes shifts in your center of gravity too–and it’s the reason that 10-25% of pregnancy related trauma injuries are caused by accidental falls. Your changing body and upset balance can make everyday tasks and activity harder, and a little unfamiliar. Luckily, your body is really good at dealing with change, and will find ways to accommodate this shift. That means changing the way you move–technically known as a pregnancy gait–but to most, the pregnancy waddle (or more endearingly, the penguin or duck walk!)

So… what’s happening on the inside to cause this change? During pregnancy, your body starts producing relaxin, a hormone that relaxes the joints and ligaments in your pelvis, allowing it to widen. Downward pressure from your growing baby can also widen your pelvis. In the later stages of pregnancy, your tummy grows outwards, which shifts your center of gravity and makes it harder to balance, especially while walking. Your spine and pelvis may also start to curve in order to support your growing stomach, and that makes you lean back slightly while standing or walking.

We know that pregnancy leads to anatomical and physiological alterations which affect the musculoskeletal system–and those effects are on full display in your altered gait and posture. This new way of walking can strain your muscles and joints in ways they aren’t used to, which leads to the expected pregnancy aches and pains (we’re talking to you, ankles and hip flexors).

So, what’s the big deal? Women have been getting pregnant since the beginning of time, so presumably, our bodies have gotten pretty good at dealing with its stressors. And yes: your body knows how to adjust, and it’s incredibly resilient. However, it’s important to remember that movements exercises you did before without a second thought may require a little more care now that you’re expecting.

To keep it simple, we’ve put together a list of things you might need to address in order to accommodate your new gait. Let’s get into it!

Pick supportive soles

One major way your gait changes involves how you plant your feet on the ground. Where you might have originally had a neutral position, you may now find that you roll inwards or outwards. Try a more supportive style of shoe, and look for a pair that provides adequate arch support.

Run, mama, run!

If you are a runner, you’ll probably want to keep running during your pregnancy–and there’ nothing stopping you! It’s a good idea to have a gait analysis done by a professional who can assess your running style and ensure your shoes are supporting your changing body. Vikash Sharma (PT, DPT, OCS, COMT) from Perfect Stride says, “With a gait analysis we are able to discern what modifications need to be made in order to allow for you to continue to run safely and efficiently. This may include changing your footwear, terrain, pace, incorporating various stability and strength based exercises into your strength training routine. Using a belly band can also be very helpful to reduce the pressure of the belly on the pelvis, bladder and other structures as it bounces with every stride”.


Tone down your workouts

The exercise you were doing pre-pregnancy needs to be modified because of your more relaxed joints, shift in balance, and new gait. Here at Baby2Body, we are all for exercising during pregnancy and all our workouts are specifically designed for your stage, so we advise you look at workouts in the app that are designed for where you’re at right now.

Pay attention to “niggles”

Address any muscle or joint pain when you feel it–don’t leave it! There are some simple stretches you can do to relieve tightness, and joint pain can be eased with modifications and stretches. Again, the Baby2Body App gives you the workouts, stretches, and yoga flows you need to feel great. If you’re unsure, seek advice from a physiotherapist who can recommend specific exercises for you. They can “prescribe exercises to specifically address the mobility, stability and/or strength deficits”, says Sharma, and “will help build more resiliency in the tissues as well as those that become stressed, potentially reducing the discomfort that you are feeling”.

Don’t forget your form

No one wants to feel weak and helpless when pregnant–because we’re anything but!–although it is very important to remember to be mindful when lifting anything relatively heavy. Pregnant women are at higher risk of an injury while lifting due to differences in posture, balance, and an inability to hold things close to the body because of their changing size. Paying attention to perfecting your form is paramount.

So with all that in mind, we hope you can all embrace your new way of walking, waddling, and moving! Your body is incredible, and your waddle is helping you stay safe during pregnancy (and is a sign that your body is preparing for delivery). Waddle away, and stay safe!

Having a baby comes with a lot of twists and turns. Know what to expect and how to stay healthy with the Baby2Body App! Try it free today.


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