Pregnancy: Correct Posture & Body Mechanics
What is good posture?
Posture is the position in which you hold your body while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture during pregnancy involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on your back.
What is the correct way to stand?
- Hold your head up straight with your chin in. Don’t 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.
- Tighten your stomach, pulling it in and up when you’re able. Don’t tilt your pelvis forward or backward. Keep your buttocks tucked in when you’re able.
- 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.
- Avoid standing in the same position for a long time.
- If you need to stand for long periods, adjust the height of the work 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 five to 15 minutes.
What is the correct way to sit?
- 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) placed at the hollow 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).
- Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips.
- Keep your hips and knees at a 90-degree angle. Use a footrest or stool if necessary. Your legs shouldn’t be crossed and your feet should be flat on the floor.
Correct sitting position without lumbar support (left) and with lumbar support (right).
- 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 and tilt it up at you. 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’s 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’s 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?
- Use a back support (lumbar roll) at the curve of your back. Your knees should be at the same level as your hips.
- Move the seat close to the steering wheel to support the curve of your back. The seat should be close enough to allow your knees to bend and your feet to reach the pedals.
- Always wear both 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 snugly as possible.
- If your vehicle is equipped with an airbag, it’s very important to wear your shoulder and lap belts. In addition, always sit back at least 10 inches away from where the airbag is stored. On the driver’s side, the airbag is located in the steering wheel. When driving, pregnant people should adjust the steering wheel so it’s tilted toward their chest and away from their head and abdomen.
What is the correct way to lift objects?
- If you must lift objects, don’t try to lift objects that are awkward or heavier than 20 pounds.
- Before you lift an object, make sure you have firm footing.
- To pick up an object that’s lower than the level of your waist, keep your back straight and bend at your knees and hips. Don’t bend forward at the waist with your knees straight.
- Stand with a wide stance close to the object you’re trying to pick up, and keep your feet firmly on the ground. Tighten your stomach muscles, along with your pelvic floor muscles (Kegel) 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’re lifting an object from a table, slide it to the edge of the table so you can hold it close to your body. Bend your knees so you’re 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 your stomach muscles, and bend your hips and knees.
Left: correct; Right: incorrect.
Reaching objects overhead
- Use a footstool or chair to bring yourself up to the level of what you’re reaching.
- Get your body as close as possible to the object you need to reach.
- Make sure you have a good idea of how heavy the object is you’re going to lift.
- Use two hands to lift.
What is the best position for sleeping and lying down?
- The best lying or sleeping position might vary. No matter in what position you lie, place a pillow under your head, but not your shoulders. The pillow should be a thickness that allows your head to be in a normal position to avoid straining your back. You might also want to put a pillow between your legs for support.
- 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). Don’t sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
- Select a firm mattress and box spring set that doesn’t 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 might be more painful to change to a hard surface. Try to do what’s most comfortable for you.
- Try using a back support (lumbar support) at night to make you more comfortable. A rolled sheet or towel tied around your waist might be helpful.
- When standing up from the lying position, turn on your side, draw up both knees towards your chest and let your legs gently drop off the bed. Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands. Avoid bending forward at your waist.
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