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Best & Worst Sitting Positions During Pregnancy


Pregnant moms often deal with excruciating back, shoulders and neck pain. This happens because pregnancy drastically affects their body postures [4] . They need to pay attention to even simple actions like standing and sitting. However, it is not at all difficult. There are certain guidelines that every mother-to-be can follow for the safety of the baby.

Why Is Good Posture Important During Pregnancy

Postures are important for the proper alignment of the body while sitting, standing or lying down. We are aware that a good posture is essential to great health. Nevertheless, its importance increases further during pregnancy. The mother can feel huge discomfort and pain due to bad position, and it can even cause injury or harm the baby. The pain can become worse in the final stage of pregnancy as the hormones tend to soften the tendons and ligaments.

Sitting Positions During Pregnancy

The mother is more susceptible to strain or pull a muscle during this phase, even while performing a simple daily task. A wrong posture can still put the mother at risk of painful joints and complications post delivery. Common bodily functions like breathing, digestion, etc., can get disturbed. Hence, to lessen the pain in the joints, neck, shoulders, back and hips, it is convenient to maintain a proper posture. It helps the baby to stay in an appropriate birthing position.

Sitting Positions To Refrain From

1. Slouching

It is normal for us to slouch at home, when we are casual and free. However, this position puts unnecessary pressure among pregnant women. The back does not stay straight and the entire attention is shifted to the spinal cord, which has already been overworking to carry the additional weight. The additional strain can make back pain worse.

2. Hanging legs while sitting

Legs swelling is a common problem faced by women during pregnancy. If they consistently sit in a position with legs hanging, the blood circulation would be directed towards legs and swell them up eventually. It would just add up to the existing bothersome discomfort.

Sitting Positions During Pregnancy

3. No proper backrest while sitting

The mother's back needs support while sitting, to take the pressure off her spinal cord. If she does not take any support and slouches a little, this can aggravate her back pain. She should avoid sitting on stools or chairs with low back during pregnancy. The more caution, the better.

4. Leaning forward while sitting

When leaning forward while sitting, the expecting mother's body can cause excess pressure on her abdomen. The baby can feel cramped and this position can negatively impact it. In the later stages of pregnancy, this ribcage could claw into the soft bones of the developing baby and mark permanent impressions on its structure.

5. Partial sitting position

Women tend to half sit on the bed, which exerts extra force on her spinal cord. This position should be discarded to relieve back pain.

There are other bad sitting positions that women can pay attention to:

They should avoid sitting with crossed legs. This can increase swelling in ankles or varicose veins due to decreased blood flow.

If they need to turn around, it is advisable to turn the entire body rather than just around the waist.

The positions should be shifted and changed regularly. One position should not be continued for a long time; it should last for a maximum of 15 minutes.

Sitting Positions That Are Best

1. Sitting on a chair

It is necessary to keep the back straight while sitting on a chair. The pelvis should be tilting forward and the knees must be placed at a right angle to it. Also, the hip bones should be depending on the back of the chair. Women should take care not to twist their waist on a chair that rolls and pivots. They should move their body completely to look back.

A little support for the back to place the hip curves comfortably, is a good idea. The body weight should be balanced through hips and should not exert pressure over one particular limb. Feet should be firmly placed on the ground. For back support, a small rolled towel or pillow, cushion can be used.

If it is required to sit and work for some time, the chair's height should be adjusted accordingly and it should be placed closer to the table. This protects the expecting mother from putting force over her baby bump. Besides, the shoulders and elbows feel more relaxed and comfortable.

2. Sitting on a sofa

Women should avoid sitting with crossed legs or ankles on the sofa no matter what stage of pregnancy they are in. This is because the blood circulation can become blocked in ankles and varicose veins and cause swelled legs and severe pain. Some cushions around when sitting on the sofa are great for support. Pillows or towels must be put in the curve of the back to balance the neck and back posture. The legs should never hang in the air during pregnancy; they should either be resting on the sofa or flatly pressed on the ground.

3. Shifting body positions

As mentioned earlier, it is never wise to sit in a single position during pregnancy. The body can feel discomfort and cramped. Women should learn to listen to their body needs and figure out what feels the best at the moment. This allows consistent blood circulation through the entire body. Mothers-to-be should make it a habit to stand up every 30 minutes or an hour and practice stretching or moving around. This relaxes the muscles and channelizes the blood flow.

Also, mothers should avoid slouching on a recliner or sofa as less as possible. This posture can make the baby lie down in the posterior position. The mother's and baby's spine can come in close proximity. At least in the advanced stage of pregnancy, this can be troublesome, as it can make the delivery challenging. The baby placed in posterior position is difficult to be pushed out and no woman looks forward to a taxing labour. A baby comes easily out of the womb if it is placed in the anterior position.

Sitting Positions During Pregnancy

4. Sitting on the floor

Cobbler's pose is a great pose to sit on the floor during pregnancy. It is very similar to a yogasana position. It requires one to sit with a straight back, knees bent and the soles of feet brought together. A mat or blanket should be used to place under the hip bones. This posture works wonderfully to prepare the body for labour [1] . Practising it every day in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy can really ease down the delivery process.

5. Sitting in a car

Care should be taken to wear both the lap and shoulder belts, when sitting in a car. However, the belt should not be tied tightly around the lap; it should be tied a little under the belly, over the upper thighs for comfort. Passing it over stomach can cause pressure on the baby. The shoulder belt should casually pass between the breasts. If the mother is supposed to drive, she should maintain the same safety guidelines on the driver's seat as well [3] .

Back support is advisable while driving. Knees must either be placed at the same level of hips or even a little higher. The seat should be pulled close to the steering wheel to prevent leaning forward; this also enables the knees to bend as per convenience and feet to reach the pedals easily.

The tummy should be placed according to the height from the steering wheel, with a minimum of 10 inches gap. The steering wheel should be distant from head and baby bump, and closer to the chest. Nonetheless, it is best to avoid driving in the last trimester of pregnancy to avoid any mishaps.

6. Use of a balancing ball for smooth delivery

Sitting on a balancing ball is a great exercise that makes women's body ready to deal with labour and its challenges [2] . It provides immense comfort during the gestational period. The ball must be chosen appropriately for one's height. Practising sitting on it every day can increase the strength of pelvic bones and core muscles. It proves helpful, especially in the last trimester.

This exercise also helps to place the baby in perfect position to come out during delivery. Balance balls can act as a substitute for normal chairs at the workstations. These are also called medicine balls or birthing balls. The birthing balls are specially made with a non-slip finish. This offers the ball with a better grip on the surface, without letting the mother to slip or fall during sitting.

Things To Keep In Mind

As the mother moves through the stages of pregnancy, it's suggested that she rests her back as much as possible. Stretch often after sitting for an hour and make sure not to slouch or take any position that does not feel comfortable. Listen to your body and do what makes you feel good and strong.

View Article References
  1. [1] Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Medina, L., Delgado, J., & Hernandez, A. (2011). Yoga and massage therapy reduce prenatal depression and prematurity. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies, 16(2), 204-249.
  2. [2] Lowe, B. D., Swanson, N. G., Hudock, S. D., & Lotz, W. G. (2015). Unstable sitting in the workplace--are there physical activity benefits?. American journal of health promotion : AJHP, 29(4), 207-209.
  3. [3] Auriault, F., Brandt, C., Chopin, A., Gadegbeku, B., Ndiaye, A., Balzing, M. P., ... & Behr, M. (2016). Pregnant women in vehicles: Driving habits, position and risk of injury. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 89, 57-61.
  4. [4] Morino, S., Ishihara, M., Umezaki, F., Hatanaka, H., Iijima, H., Yamashita, M., ... & Takahashi, M. (2017). Low back pain and causative movements in pregnancy: a prospective cohort study. BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 18(1), 416.

Read more about: prenatal pregnancy
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