One of the most important contributions to a healthy pregnancy is good posture. Proper alignment can decrease low back and neck pain and fatigue. These guidelines will help you maintain a healthy posture throughout your pregnancy when standing, sitting and lying down.
What Is the Correct Way to Stand During Pregnancy?
- Hold your head up straight with your chin in. Do not tilt your head forward, backward, or sideways.
- Make sure your ear lobes are in line with the middle of your shoulders.
- Keep your shoulder blades back and your chest forward.
- Keep your knees straight, but not locked.
- Stretch the top of your head toward the ceiling.
- Pull your stomach in and up (as much as possible!). Do not tilt your pelvis forward or backward. Keep your buttocks tucked in.
- Point your feet in the same direction, with your weight balanced evenly on both feet. The arches of your feet should be supported with low-heeled (but not flat) shoes to prevent stress on your back.
- Avoid standing in the same position for a long time.
- If you need to stand for long periods in front of a table, adjust the height of the table to a comfortable level if possible. Try to elevate one foot by resting it on a stool or box. After several minutes, switch your foot position.
- While working in the kitchen, open the cabinet under the sink and rest one foot on the inside of the cabinet. Change feet every 5 to 15 minutes.
What Is the Correct Way to Sit During Pregnancy?
- Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair.
- Sit with a back support (such as a small, rolled-up towel or a lumbar roll) at the curve of your back.
Here’s how to find a good sitting position when you’re not using a back support or lumbar roll:
- Sit at the end of your chair and slouch completely.
- Draw yourself up and accentuate the curve of your back as far as possible. Hold for a few seconds.
- Release the position slightly (about 10 degrees). This is a good sitting posture.
- Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips.
- Keep your hips and knees at a right angle (use a foot rest or stool if necessary). Your legs should not be crossed and your feet should be flat on the floor.
- Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
- At work, adjust your chair height and workstation so you can sit up close to your work. Rest your elbows and arms on your chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- When sitting in a chair that rolls and pivots, don’t twist at the waist while sitting. Instead, turn your whole body.
- When standing up from the sitting position, move to the front of the seat of your chair. Stand up by straightening your legs. Avoid bending forward at your waist. Immediately stretch your back by doing 10 standing backbends.
It is OK to assume other sitting positions for short periods of time, but most of your sitting time should be spent as described above so there is minimal stress on your back. If you have back pain, sit as little as possible, and only for short periods of time (10 to 15 minutes).
What Is the Correct Driving Position During Pregnancy?
- Use a back support (lumbar roll) at the curve of your back. Your knees should be at the same level or higher than your hips.
- Move the seat close to the steering wheel, but not too close. In general, your seat should be close enough to allow your knees to bend and your feet to reach the pedals. Your belly should be at least 10 inches from the steering wheel, if possible (this will depend upon your height). The last month of pregnancy, when your belly is likely to be closer than ever to the steering wheel, ride in the passenger’s seat when possible.
- Always wear both the lap and shoulder safety belts. Place the lap belt under your abdomen, as low on your hips as possible and across your upper thighs. Never place the belt above your abdomen. Place the shoulder belt between your breasts. Adjust the shoulder and lap belts as snug as possible.
- If your vehicle is equipped with an air bag, it is very important to wear your shoulder and lap belts. In addition, always sit back at least 10 inches away from the site where the air bag is stored. On the driver’s side, the air bag is located in the steering wheel. When driving, pregnant women should adjust the steering wheel so that it is tilted toward the chest and away from the head and abdomen.
What Is the Correct Way to Lift Objects During Pregnancy?
- Ask for help when lifting heavy objects when you’re pregnant. If you must lift something, do not try to lift anything that is awkward or heavier than 20 pounds.
- Before you lift an object, make sure you have firm footing.
- To pick up an object that is lower than the level of your waist, keep your back straight and bend at your knees and hips. Do not bend forward at the waist with your knees straight.
- Stand with a wide stance close to the object you are trying to pick up and keep your feet firm on the ground. Tighten your stomach muscles and lift the object using your leg muscles. Straighten your knees in a steady motion. Don’t jerk the object up to your body.
- Stand completely upright without twisting. Always move your feet forward when lifting an object.
- If you are lifting an object from a table, slide it to the edge to the table so that you can hold it close to your body. Bend your knees so that you are close to the object. Use your legs to lift the object and come to a standing position.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects above waist level.
- Hold packages close to your body with your arms bent. Keep your stomach muscles tight. Take small steps and go slowly.
- To lower the object, place your feet as you did to lift, tighten stomach muscles, and bend your hips and knees.
When reaching for objects overhead:
- Get your body as close as possible to the object you need.
- Make sure you have a good idea of how heavy the object is you are going to lift.
- Use two hands to lift.
What Is the Best Position for Sleeping and Lying Down During Pregnancy?
In general, pregnant women should try not to lie on their back or on their stomach. Lying on your back, especially in the third trimester, causes more work for your heart: in this position, the baby’s weight can put excessive pressure on the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from the feet and legs, pelvis, and abdomen back to the heart. In addition, sleeping on your back can actually cause you to have a backache!
Lying on your stomach during pregnancy is not likely to be very comfortable. More importantly, lying on your stomach should be avoided because it can put added pressure on the fetus and reduce blood flow.
Don’t be too concerned if you shift positions in the night; this is a normal part of sleeping that you can’t control. Most likely you will wake up from discomfort if you end up lying on your back or stomach.
Some doctors recommend that pregnant women lie on their left side in the third trimester to allow for the best blood flow to the fetus and to the uterus and kidneys. Because your liver is on the right side of your body, lying on the left side also helps keep the uterus off that large organ.
No matter what position you lie in, a pillow should be under your head, but not your shoulders, and should be a thickness that allows your head to be in a normal position to avoid straining your back. You may also want to put a pillow between your legs for support. Use your pillows to discover a comfortable sleeping position. There are several special “pregnancy” pillows on the market that may help you sleep better.
Try to sleep in a position that helps you maintain the curve in your back (such as on your side with your knees slightly bent, with a pillow between your knees). Do not sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest.
Select a firm mattress and box spring set that does not sag. If necessary, place a board under your mattress. You can also place the mattress on the floor temporarily if necessary.
If you have always slept on a soft surface, it may be more painful to change to a hard surface. Try to do what is most comfortable for you.
Try using a back support (lumbar support) at night to make you more comfortable. A rolled sheet or towel tucked behind your back may be helpful.
When standing up from the lying position, turn on your side, draw up both knees and swing your legs on the side of the bed. Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands. Avoid bending forward at your waist.