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Pregnancy Practicing. OUCH!

September 5, 2011 at 8:47 PM

At 3 months pregnant, I thought, "this can't possibly get worse". At 4 months I started stretching more, walking more, practicing less and I thought, "okay, if it gets worse... no, it can't possibly". Now at 5 months, I have seen a chiropractor who gasped when he touched my muscles and a masseuse who said she has never felt such unbalanced muscles, and I'm thinking I'm not going to be able to play any more... I barely play as it is... But I have concerts! Students! I'm due at the end of December, and I make more money with Christmas gigs the first two weeks of December than I make total year round. 

I have always had mild back pain, and I know how important exercising and stretching is. I never practice for long without taking a break... but now I just can't seem to hold the instrument up for 30 minutes without regretting it, so I just don't play most days, which is not helping my sanity!

I don't know what else to do, i feel like I'm doing all I can, and Its only getting worse and worse.
Women who have been through this before, please help!

From E. Smith
Posted on September 6, 2011 at 6:10 AM

 I don't have advice for you because, even though I went through four pregnancies, I'm not a violinist. But I have four daughters who play, so this topic is pretty interesting. I can imagine it would be a good topic for a book. Most young women musicians continue working during pregnancy and resume playing soon after the baby is born. It's a subject that will be of great interest to many.

From sharelle taylor
Posted on September 6, 2011 at 10:48 AM

I feel for you, that degree of spasm sounds debilitating. I had unsuccessful attempts to manage back pain with my second pregnancy, but after a disc prolapse a year later I had asome (good) osteopathy and thought I had recovered very well.

Last year, after starting orchestra, I wrote here about severe tailbone pain, and that has gradually been uncovered as being due to almost non existant core strength, due to muscular dysynnergy, probably due to that pregnancy.  19 years ago.  I compensated for what was some considerable damage and didn't realise what was happening.

So, while I'm not sure what the prognosis is for you in regard to violin during pregnancy, I urge you to find a well educated physiotherapist (in Australia this is a big area for phyisotherapy, maybe different in US).  you want a physio or other health professional who has training in women's health and pregnancy, as they are the ones who can properly assess and treat that pain that is due to core muscle weakness.  there may be some pilates based ex's you can do that will relieve the spasm you are experiencing, and then strengthen the muscles that should be acting.  Thankfully there is a lot of professional interest in the area, with good research, so you will find someone who can help.  Best of luck.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 6, 2011 at 2:51 PM

 Does it help to sit while practicing? And then the question would be, what is the optimal angle and height. Conversely, if you've been sitting, does it help to stand? Obviously you can't stand at a gig, though. Is there a cushion or foam wedge kind of thing you could bring to sit on, that might help?

From Rachel Davis
Posted on September 6, 2011 at 4:29 PM

I am going through the same thing right now.  I'm due at the beginning of the new year.  It's my first, so I'm no expert.  So far, the only thing that helps me is stretching throughout the day (especially before and after practicing) and doing yoga a few times a week.  Is hasn't gotten rid of all the muscle pain and discomfort, but it has made it more manageable.

From Julie Stroud
Posted on September 8, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Every woman reacts differently, I think. My experience was just the opposite -- everything was so loosey-goosey that I felt like I had no control over anything my bow arm did.  Your body is probably reacting to being tired and may not be happy with the massive hormonal changes the baby is wreaking on it. I would recommend making sure that you're drinking enough water, taking frequent breaks, changing your position (sit a while, then stand, then sit, or walk around), etc.  You might also ask your OB/midwife for suggestions and/or research tips and pointers for women who continue to exercise strenuously while pregnant (like running, aerobics, etc.).

You might find that is only temporary and you'll get more comfortable as you move (further) into second trimester -- a lot of women are physically miserable in the first trimester, but they say that it's like the heavens open and the angels sing, they feel so much better. By the time you hit the last month or so, your belly might not want to accommodate your usual bow stroke (especially when sitting to play), so you might have to make some adjustments.  This is probably not much help, but it should get better. It will take some experimentation (and it's essential to keep your medical provider in the loop!) but you'll stumble on something (maybe accidentally) that is comfortable and allows you to keep playing clear up to delivery.

Good luck! Is this your first?


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