Posture in pregnancy: which one to keep and how to improve it

Your body and posture will change a lot during pregnancy. This page is intended to provide you with information about problems that may occur and postural advice and exercises that can help you stay fit and healthy.

One of the most important aspects for experiencing pregnancy serenely and to the fullest of one’s strength is to maintain good posture. Proper body alignment can reduce pain and strain in the lower back and neck by preventing or reducing low back pain, back pain, fatigue, etc.

The following information will help you maintain healthy posture throughout your pregnancy when standing, sitting, and lying down.

The correct posture in pregnancy

Posture is the position in which you hold your body while standing, sitting or lying down.

Maintaining good posture during pregnancy means getting the body used to standing, walking, sitting and lying down in positions in which the back is less stressed, despite the belly and all the physiological changes to which the body is subjected.

Bad posture in pregnancy and how to correct it

When you’re pregnant, several things happen that hinder the maintenance of correct alignment of the body’s axes and lead to incorrect posture: the baby’s weight increases the lumbar curve and the body’s center of gravity moves forward; the abdominal muscles stretch and are less able to contract; hormone levels rise during pregnancy and cause joints and ligaments to loosen.

Even simple, intuitive and easy-to-remember tricks can help improve posture. For example: straightening the upper back so that the ear, shoulder and hip are in line helps to counteract the increase in the lumbar curve; rotating the pelvis forward allows you to correct the pelvic tilt;

In the following paragraphs we will see in more detail how to behave in different situations to always maintain the correct alignment of the body.

Correct posture in pregnancy when you are standing

Some precautions for when you are standing:

  • keep your head straight with your chin tucked in. Don’t tilt your head forward, backward, or to the side;
  • make sure your earlobes are in line with the center of your shoulders;
  • keep your shoulder blades back and chest forward;
  • stretch your knees well, but without locking them;
  • stretch your head towards the ceiling
  • keep your belly in (by contracting your abs)
  • do not tilt the pelvic floor forward, avoid the lower back bent forward
  • squeeze your buttocks and don’t let them lean back
  • point your feet in the same direction
  • use shoes with heels, but not too high. High heels push your weight forward even more.
  • if possible do not stand for long periods. If you really have to stand for long periods, change your position every 15 minutes, perhaps placing one foot on a raised support, a stool, a box
  • consider wearing a maternity band for belly support

How to sit while pregnant

Some tips for when you are sitting:

  • the buttocks must almost touch the back of the chair, the shoulders must fall back and the back must remain straight;
  • if possible (in the office, for example) use a support for the lumbar region of the back (a lumbar cushion or a small rolled up towel, for example)
  • distribute body weight evenly on both hips;
  • keep your hips and knees at a 90-degree angle, using a footrest or stool if needed.
  • do not cross your legs, this position reduces circulation;
  • do not keep your feet suspended, your feet must rest on the ground or on a support
  • If possible, avoid sitting in one position for more than 30 minutes
  • if possible (in the office, for example) use a chair with an elbow rest and a desk where you can rest your arms while keeping your shoulders relaxed.

Correct posture in pregnancy while lying on your side

Lying on your side is a good position to take the stress off your lower back without reducing blood flow to the placenta and baby.

Some tricks for when you are lying on your side:

  • place a pillow between your legs to support the weight of your upper leg and reduce lower back strain
  • place a pillow under the abdomen, it will help support the weight of the uterus
  • put a pillow behind you to support your back.

Correct posture in pregnancy while lying on your back

Especially in the third trimester of pregnancy, lying on your back is not ideal: the weight of the baby and uterus can compress blood vessels and reduce blood flow and oxygen to the placenta and baby.

When assuming this position try to prop up your head (head only) with a pillow and place another pillow under your knees (or keep your knees bent) to tilt your pelvis and flatten your back. Also, when you get out of bed, first roll onto your side and then use your arms to push yourself off the bed.

Recommendations for lifting objects

Lifting excessive weights during pregnancy increases the risk of placental abruption and ligament injuries, which are more delicate due to hormonal factors.

However, here are some tips for lifting objects:

  • do not try to lift awkward objects or objects heavier than 10 kg and in any case make sure you do it from a stable position. It is not that 10 Kg is a fixed limit, but rather a common recommendation
  • to pick up an object lower than your waist level, keep your back straight and bend your knees and hips. Don’t lean forward in with knees straight. Then lift the object using your leg muscles: straighten your knees in a steady motion
  • if you’re lifting an object off a table, slide it to the edge of the table so you can keep it close to your body. Bend your knees so you are close to the object. Use your legs to lift the object into a standing position
  • avoid lifting heavy objects above waist level
  • hold the packs close to the body with arms bent. Keep your abdominal muscles tight. Take small steps and go slowly
  • To lower the object, position your feet as you did when lifting it. Contract your abdominal muscles and bend your hips and knees.

3 simple postural exercises for pregnancy

Here are 3 exercises to help you improve your posture and alignment:

Perform tractions of the elastic bands for fitness

To perform this exercise, you need an elastic band ( purchasable here ).

It is sufficient to stand or sit with your arms stretched forward, shoulder width apart and holding the elastic band in your hands.

Keeping your arms straight, as you exhale, pull the band while keeping the height of your arms constant. Once you reach full extension, exhale, release the tension in the band and return to the starting position.

Repeat 10 – 15 times.

Row of arms

Standing or sitting, raise both arms in front of you, with fists facing forward, as if you were holding oars.

As you exhale, pull your arms towards your body, as if you were rowing, making sure you start at the shoulder blades.

Inhaling, push your arms forward, returning to the starting position.

Repeat 10-15 times.

4 legged exercise

Starting from the kneeling position, with your hands on the floor and placed under your shoulders, extend one arm forward and the opposite leg backwards, forming a straight line with the whole body. Hold the position for a few seconds.

Return your leg and hand to the starting position on the floor.

Repeat with the other arm-leg pair.

Repeat the complete exercise 10 times.

Buttocks stretch

Start sitting in a chair or on the floor. She crosses one leg over the other (as you would when crossing your legs spontaneously), gently press her hand on her knee until you feel a stretch in your butt and hip.

Hold the position for 20 seconds on each side.

Repeat with the other leg.

Stretching lombare

Sit on the floor, legs straight in front of you, back vertical. He stretches his arms out in front of you, keeping them together. Inhale and, keeping your arms and legs straight, lean forward bringing your hands to your feet until you feel a stretch in the backs of your legs and lower back. Keep your knees on the floor and don’t bend over.

Hold the position for 20 seconds.

Leg lifts

Get into the cat-like position, with your hands and knees on the floor. Keep your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale, extending one leg back along the floor.

Exhale and slowly lift your straight leg off the floor, contracting your butt muscle with your foot pointing back. Keep your hips and torso still.

Do 15 reps on each leg.

What are the common aches and pains from posture changes during pregnancy?

Below are the common pains experienced in pregnancy resulting from postural changes.

Incorrect forward head posture can cause:

  • neck pain
  • heachache
  • pain between the shoulder blades
  • carpal tunnel syndrome

Incorrect forward tilt of the pelvis can cause:

  • low back pain
  • pelvic pain

Increased lumbar curve can cause:

  • low back pain
  • sciatica

Incorrect upper back and/or chest position

  • intercostal pain
  • difficulty breathing due to reduced lung capacity

Postural adaptations in pregnancy, conclusion

We have seen some guidelines and some exercises to treat posture during pregnancy. These are simple and intuitive behaviors and movements, the usefulness of which is easy to understand, but which we often overlook or forget.

We hope that this short guide will help improve your posture during pregnancy, with all the benefits that follow.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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