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Pregnancy Induced Clumsiness
by Mark Moore, MD

Q: I've been dropping a lot of things lately. Is this related to my pregnancy?

Dr.Moore: There is a mother I know who locked her keys in the car, snapped off the rear-view mirror of her SUV while backing out of the garage, shattered an antique bowl, was pulled over for making a right turn on red, and accidentally locked her 2-year old in the car--and it all happened during her 9th month!

Pregnancy-induced clumsiness or "PIC" as I call it, is a real phenomena. Its basis stems from a combination of physical and emotional factors, which increase as the pregnancy progresses

Two physical issues directly affect the agility and dexterity of the pregnant woman. First, the obvious change that occurs in body size and alteration of the center of gravity. Spinal lordosis (sway back) is a natural mechanism that helps a woman carry her enlarging abdomen without falling over. Still, her balance is uneasy- worse when climbing stairs, lifting or carrying a package or walking on slippery or uneven surfaces.

The placenta secretes a hormone called "relaxin" which relaxes the ligaments in the body, allowing the lordosis to occur. It also loosens the joints of the hands, arms, ankles and knees.

Edema and increased cellular water in hands and fingers can affect your grip and sensory perception.

Add to this mix the psychological stressors of pregnancy. In a recent issue of Science Journal, stress was shown to activate an enzyme in the brain which impairs short-term memory and impairs decision making. Of course its worse if you already have some little ones running around. You've got a recipe for potential disaster!

What can be done to survive P.I.C.?

Slow down, be easy and don't push yourself too hard. Avoid rushing and over-scheduling, especially in late 3rd trimester--this is even more important for our moms aged 35 and older than for moms in the 20's. Don't sweat the small stuff, try to prioritize the serious stuff (like driving, and cooking), Control the "nesting" urges-- the feeling of need to have everything perfect before the baby comes.

Not all clumsiness is P.I.C; true imbalance, especially when associated with dizziness can have many medical etiologies, and should be discussed with you ob/gyn or family physician.

Mark Moore, MD is a pediatric and obstetric anesthesiologist in North Florida. He is the author of "Baby Girl or Baby Boy-Choose the Sex of Your Child" ($12.95 Barnes and Noble Bookstores). Readers may send questions to: An archive of previous columns can be found at Ask Dr. Moore. This column is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional or medical advice.

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