Health Encyclopedia

Pregnancy and Posture

Why is good posture important in pregnancy?

Much of the back pain experienced throughout pregnancy is related to the strain on your back from the weight of your growing baby. Using proper posture can help prevent and even relieve some of the pain.  Here are some tips to help you maintain good posture in various positions.

What is proper posture during pregnancy?

When your body is in alignment—when you use proper posture—you can imagine a straight line running from your ears to your shoulders, and to your hips and knees.  Keeping your chin tucked in and raising your head and shoulders helps you stand tall. Tuck in or tilt your pelvis forward to keep your lower back from arching in a swayback position.

Choose supportive shoes with low heels and good arch support. You may need to buy a larger size, as many women find their feet grow or swell with pregnancy.

Lying down

Pregnancy hormones cause the ligaments to relax. As a result, you may feel uncomfortable, even in bed. Here are tips to help you cope:

  • It’s best to avoid lying on your back, especially in late pregnancy, when the weight of the heavy uterus can press on the large blood vessels in your abdomen.

  • When lying on your side, keep your body in line, with your knees bent slightly, and avoid twisting.

  • Use pillows for support behind your back, between your legs, and under your belly. Most women find that a firm mattress with a good pad provides the best support.

  • To get out of bed, raise your upper body with your arms and hands to a sitting position, then move your legs over the side of the bed.  Stand up slowly, using your leg muscles.

Sitting

If you work at a desk, proper posture is especially important. Here are tips to help you practice good posture:

  • Keep your body in alignment while sitting, and try not to slump or slouch. Use a sturdy chair with low-back support and tilt your pelvis forward to avoid the swayback position. Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips and your feet should touch the floor.

  • Choose a chair with soft arm rests that allow your shoulders to relax and your elbows to be near your body.

  • Be careful with chairs on wheels as they may move as you try to sit down or stand up.

  • It’s also helpful to get up every hour or so and walk around. Try not to cross your legs while seated as this can impair circulation.

Standing

Here are tips to help you use good posture when standing:

  • It’s best to avoid standing for extended periods. Try to vary your position frequently.

  • When you do have to stand, keep your feet slightly apart and avoid locking your knees. Remember to keep your pelvis tucked in.

  • If you have to stand in one place for a long time, place one foot on a small step stool. This takes some of the weight off your lower back. 

Good posture can help you look and feel better and may prevent some of the discomforts that can occur later in pregnancy.