What if back pain was not a necessary or “normal” feature of pregnancy, but instead the predictable result of poor body mechanics that predate pregnancy? Poor habits of posture and movement make how we sit, stand, walk, bend, reach, etc.—activities we do all day long without thinking—a minefield of micro-aggressions on our bodies. Unfortunately the very automaticity of these activities makes it nearly impossible to improve them. The Alexander Technique (AT), a 120-year old form of embodied mindfulness, teaches us how to undo these harmful patterns and use our bodies and minds more functionally in all of our everyday activities. AT has been shown, in several large-scale, randomized studies, to be a highly effective intervention for back and neck pain. This workshop will introduce midwives to some of the fundamental principles of AT and teach practical self-care skills they can share with their patients. Applied to daily life, AT procedures can prevent, reduce or eliminate back pain, improve balance and breathing and make space for a growing baby—thus indirectly contributing to smoother labor and birth. These self-care skills are equally valuable for preventing pain in the postpartum period, when mothers have to meet new demands of lifting, carrying and nursing.

Preventing Back Pain in Pregnancy

Eve Bernfeld is a Certified Alexander Technique (AT) Teacher and owner of In Balance Alexander Technique. She also teaches AT as an adjunct professor at Lewis & Clark College, at Mittleman Jewish Community Center, and through numerous workshops and talks at a variety of institutions and businesses. She trained at the Oregon Center for the Alexander Technique in Portland, completing her 3 years and over 1600 hours of hands-on training in 2011. Eve went on to study Alexander Technique for Pregnancy and Birth in London with Ilana Machover, a senior AT teacher, and founding member of Doula UK and the National Childbirth Trust. Her work is also informed by her Master’s Degree in Theatre Education, her decade as a drama teacher and 20-year performance career. Eve is passionate about teaching methods of empowerment around preventing or improving pain and stress. She introduces a form of embodied mindfulness that helps people unravel their unseen habits of compression and excess tension, which are generally the root cause of many of our issues. Eve is also a mom of toddler triplets who keep her practicing what she preaches, moment by moment.

​Learning Objectives

  1. Recognize common patterns of compression in the Atlanto-Occipital Joint, and resulting whole-body compression.

  2. Recognize common patterns of misalignment to compensate for changes in mass with pregnancy.

  3. Employ a competent “Position of Mechanical Advantage.”

  4. Teach “position of mechanical advantage” to their pregnant and new parent patients.

  5. Suggest movement, postural and inhibitory strategies to their patients to mitigate common patterns of compression and misalignment.