It’s no secret that many of us moms suffer from low-back pain and other posture-related issues during pregnancy. While carrying a baby in utero, we have to train our bodies to sit, stand, and move in positions that reduce strain on our backs. Along with reducing pain, there are several other reasons why we should pay attention to maintaining a good pregnancy posture.
This is a guest post written for the Koala Mom; all opinions expressed are the author’s.
According to research, when pregnant women have misaligned posture, they can have problems with increases in their lumbar spine curve as well as their problems with thoracic curvature, an increase in the extension of the shoulder girdle, hyper-extended knees, and ankles. Creating this much unnecessary pressure on the lower limbs can cause life-long problems.
To help treat low-back pain and other issues during pregnancy, you can visit a chiropractor or massage therapist. Visiting a chiropractor is safe while you’re pregnant, and studies show that a chiropractor can take care of problems with sciatica, sacroiliac pain, and round ligament pain. Paying attention to posture can help prevent these issues from happening. You may want to look for a chiropractor or massage therapist who has experience with helping pregnant moms. Try asking your care provider for a referral if you are facing back pain and posture issues.
While pregnant, you also need to make adjustments to your posture as you move through the different trimesters. As you gain weight and the baby begins protruding farther from your spine, good posture becomes more difficult to manage. While standing, you should pay attention to the way that several parts of your body align, beginning at the top of the head.
Correct Standing Posture for Pregnant Moms
This posture is ideal for pregnant women. But to get the full benefits of it, you shouldn’t stand in one place for too long. Movement is one of the keys to preventing low-back pain. Often back aches during pregnancy are caused by sitting or standing in the same posture for too long. Moving to a different position often helps alleviate the pain.
Checking my posture is another good idea. Here’s some guidelines for a correct standing posture:
- Hold your head up with the top of your head reaching tall, while tucking your chin slightly.
- While looking in the mirror, notice that your earlobes are directly over your shoulders.
- Tuck your shoulder blades back. Think of squeezing them together, which will slightly push the check forward.
- Then, engage your stomach muscles, without tilting the pelvis. Tuck your lower back to create room for the tailbone.
- Don’t relax into one hip. Instead, keep the knees soft, rather than locked.
- Then, keep the weight balanced on both feet with the toes pointing forward. Wear shoes with a subtle heel, not too high or too low.
Correct Sitting Posture during Pregnancy
While pregnant, it’s a good idea to avoid sitting for too long as well. When sitting, here’s the ideal posture to maintain:
- Sit in a chair with a supportive back and seat.
- If your feet do not touch the floor, put a stool under your feet.
- Put a lumbar roll or a pregnancy pillow at the base of your back.
- Push your rear end all the way to the back of the chair.
Try this before you sit with ideal posture: slouch completely, so you can see the difference between slouching and sitting properly.
- From the slouch, sit upright and push your low back as far back as you can and hold.
- Then, release. This will put your back into the perfect place.
- Put your feel flat on the floor and be sure your weight is balanced on your seat.
- Be sure your hips and knees are at right angles.
- Do not cross your ankles or knees.
- Then, adjust your workstation so you can reach your computer with your elbows on your desk with the shoulders relaxed.
Before you get out your chair, scooch to the front of your chair. Instead of bending at the waist (which is occupied with your baby), stand up using your leg strength. Then, stretch your low back. While sitting, if you need to make a few little adjustments, it’s okay. Just try to sit in good posture for the majority of your time. But try to avoid sitting for more than 15 consecutive minutes.
How to Lay Down Comfortably while Pregnant
Sleeping with a pregnant belly is a challenge, as any mom facing third trimester insomnia knows well! If you are a back sleeper, your lower back will hurt. If you are a belly sleeper, you will find that you cannot sleep that way. The only option is sleeping on your side, and it can be tough to get into that position, too. If your mattress is old and not supportive, then you might not be able to find much comfort at all.
Having a supportive, firm mattress is a necessity for pregnant women. It is also helpful to have a large body pillow designed for supporting your pregnant body. These pillows let you shift from side to side without having to rearrange your pillows.
- Rest on one side with your knees bent to take pressure off of your belly.
- Put a pillow between your knees and under your belly.
- Arrange your arms in a way that does not restrict blood flow.
When you are ready to get out of bed, use your arms and legs rather than your back. Move toward the side of your bed, put your feet on the floor, and use your legs to get out of bed.
There are physical reasons why you should not lay on your back while pregnant. Your heart has to work harder when you lay on your back, especially as you approach the end of your pregnancy. This is because the weight of the baby can be overwhelming for the inferior vena cava, which carries blood from the lower extremities to the heart. When the vena cava is blocked, blood flow to the placenta can be reduced.
If you can, lay on your left side. This lets the blood flow to the liver, uterus, and kidneys. It keeps the baby from pressing on the liver, which is on the right. Keep in mind that you will move as you sleep, but if you get into an uncomfortable position, like laying on your belly, you will wake.
It does take practice to maintain a good pregnancy posture. Your chiropractor can give you techniques that will help you with your posture. Honestly, the easiest way to remember to adjust your posture will be the pain you feel when you are not standing, sitting, or resting comfortably.
What has been your biggest posture issue during pregnancy? What helps you maintain a good pregnancy posture and avoid back pain?
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C., founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab Juneau and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief. Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. He continues his education to remain active and updated in studies related to physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, and more.
Is this your first pregnancy or your third? After having my fifth baby, I compiled all my pregnancy notes and research into a book for new moms! Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby: Tips to Help You Through All Four Trimesters includes everything I’ve learned through five pregnancies, as well as the wisdom and advice of my good friend, Anna Eastland. She’s a mom of 8 babies, including one in heaven and one more on the way. If we could have you over for coffee and sit down to chat about bellies and babies, this is what we’d tell you! Between us, we’ve got you covered for everything you need to know about a natural, healthy pregnancy! Subscribe to my email newsletter to find out when Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby is available (very soon!).