Guidelines to maintain a healthy posture during pregnancy

Guidelines to maintain a healthy posture during pregnancy

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.

The Effect of Pregnancy on Your Body's Alignment

During pregnancy several things occur that work against maintaining correct alignment. For one, the weight of the baby causes your lower back to sway as your center of gravity moves forward.

Poor Posture (occurs naturally)

Your abdominal muscles become stretched as the baby grows. These muscles are less able to contract and keep your lower back in proper alignment. Hormone levels increase during pregnancy and cause joints and ligaments to loosen.

Corrected Posture (requires practice)

To counteract the increased low back curve, straighten your upper back so that your ear, shoulder and hip are aligned. Tuck your pelvis under using the pelvic tilt.

Maintaining a Healthy Posture While Standing

Maintain the pelvic tilt at all times, so that your lower back does not sway forward.
  • Contract your abdominal muscles and buttocks to act as a natural "corset" for your lower back.
  • Keep your chin tucked in. Your ears should be in a straight line with your shoulders.
  • Avoid standing in one position for long periods of time.
  • Avoid high heels, as they cause your body weight to shift forward even more. Wear low heeled, comfortable shoes.
  • When doing any task where you are standing for a long period of time, such as ironing or doing dishes, put one foot up on a step stool or sit on a high stool. This will decrease the sway in your lower back.
  • Consider wearing a maternity support belt.

Maintaining a Healthy Posture While Sitting

  • Maintain the pelvic tilt and avoid slouching.
  • Sit into a chair so that the length of your thighs are supported by the chair.
  • Sit so your knees are level with your hips.
  • Do not cross your legs. This position decreases circulation.

Maintaining a Healthy Posture While Semi-Reclined

  • Stack pillows to elevate your head and keep your knees bent.

Maintaining a Healthy Posture While Lying on Your Side

Lying on your side is a good position to take stress off your lower back without reducing the blood flow to the placenta and your baby.
  • Place a pillow between your legs to support the weight of your top leg and decrease low back strain.
  • A pillow under your abdomen will help support the weight of your uterus.
  • Place a pillow behind you for back support.

Maintaining a Healthy Posture While Lying on Your Back

Avoid lying on your back for long periods of time after the first trimester. The weight of the baby and your uterus can compress the large blood vessels and reduce the blood flow and oxygen to the placenta and baby.
  • If you do lie on your back, elevate your head and place a pillow under your knees, or keep your knees bent in order to tilt your pelvis and flatten your back.

Strategies for Lifting and Bending

You are more prone to back strain during pregnancy and after delivery because the pregnancy hormones have softened your ligaments and joints.
  • To reach or lift low objects, spread your feet apart with one foot ahead of the other, and bend your knees.
  • Bring the object close to you as you straighten your knees and lift. This allows you to use your thigh muscles for lifting rather than straining your back muscles.
  • When moving an object, push it instead of pulling it. Use your legs, not your back and arms.
  • Never bend at the waist with your knees straight, even if it is only a slight bend. Instead, alter your position so that you are sitting, squatting, kneeling, or bending at the knees while leaning forward at the hips.
  • When getting in and out of bed or a car, turn your hips, pelvis and back in the same direction while maintaining a straight back. When getting out of bed, first roll to your side and then use your arms to push from the bed.

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