With your belly growing, feet swelling up, not to mention the fatigue, you must feel that it is too much to ask for you to maintain a good sitting posture! Feels like too much? It’s possible with these simple step-by-step methods. The benefits of maintaining a good sitting posture are immense.
What are 10 common posture mistakes? And, remedies!
ONE: Slouching while sitting: This can reduce your lung-space lowering oxygen going to placenta, give you shoulder, neck pain and back pain.
Remedies - Correct your sitting posture with these tips:
- First, sit on your chair and bend forward.
- Then, straighten your back completely, making your lower back curve fully.
- Keep your back straight like a rod! When you sit, make a conscious effort to sit erect and push your shoulders back.
- For better support, sit closer to your desk, if working. That will need a readjustment of your chair height.
- Use the entire seat of the chair - your buttocks should touch the back of the chair.
- Use a back support (a rolled-up towel is better than a cushion) where your back curves.
- Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips - don’t lean to one side.
- Keep your hips and knees at a right angle (use a foot rest or stool if necessary).
- Avoid crossing your legs.
- Rest your elbows and arms on your chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- If your chair turns at the seating, you will need to change the habit of twisting at the waist! Now, you should turn your whole body.
- Every 30 minutes, get up and walk around for 3 mins. If you can walk in fresh air, even better.
- Need to stand up? Here’s what you should do : move to the front of the seat of your chair, straighten your legs and rise. Do not bend at the waist.
- When you stand up after sitting for a period of time, it is a good idea to do some stretches.
Being conscious of your sitting posture can not only reduce discomforts but also help prepare for childbirth since the baby finds it easier to drop into the best position for delivery into the pelvis.
Check our blog on: Best Foetal Position for Normal Delivery
TWO: Choosing a wrong chair for sitting
A chair that is too hard or too soft or wobbly can be risky. Wrong height can also hurt your posture.
Remedies - Use these tips for finding a comfortable and supportive chair for pregnancy:
- Choose one with soft but firm padding. The fabric should be breathable and skin-friendly since pregnancy might be making you hot and sweaty.
- Check the inclination and height adjustment options it gives. When you pull a lever or push a button to adjust it, make sure it doesn’t change its height or incline with a jerk.
- How are the arm rests? Are they soft? Do they 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. The roll of the wheels should not be too slippery.
- You need leg rests to put your feet up to relieve ankle swelling. A small stool is also fine.
THREE: Bending over while sitting on the bed
Hunching or slouching gets more pronounced when you are sitting on the bed. That compresses abdominal organs leading to gas, bloating and constipation. The uterus also gets pressed.
Remedies: Avoid sitting on the bed for long periods of time since it's not really suited for sitting. But, in case you are sitting for a while, please keep these things in mind.
- Move to the back of the bed and align the back with the head rest.
- Keeping your back straight, put a pillow under the small arch of the back.
- Stretch your feet out and point them ahead.
- Do not lean forward - that puts pressure on the belly.
FOUR: Sitting on the floor for too long/not sitting at all
Yes, there are benefits of sitting on the floor. And, it is a common practice in Indian households. But, sitting for too long or sitting when you have certain pregnancy conditions is not a good idea. When there is continued pressure on legs and ankles it could lead to (oedema) or varicose veins.
Remedies: Don’t sit for more than 30 minutes at a time because that can cause the legs to get pressed at odd places and pinch blood flow.
While seated, you must try Baddha Konaasana for opening your pelvis and stretching the hip joints for preparing for labour. It also helps in relieving back pain.
Don’t sit on the floor AT ALL if you have:
- Pelvic girdle pain (PGP):This pain is felt around the pelvic joints, lower back, hips and thighs. Around 1 in 4 pregnant women experience mild to severe PGP.
- Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD): Symphysis pubis dysfunction refers to the discomfort in your pelvic bones. It happens when the ligaments that normally keep your pelvic bone aligned during pregnancy become too relaxed and stretchy soon before birth.
FIVE : Head tilting while standing/walking
You might be hearing it for the first time, but it's true - if you don’t hold your head straight, it can cause neck pain and dizziness.
Remedies: Do check these two points consciously.
- Hold your head up straight and tuck your chin in.
- Be conscious of the placement of the head. Assess it with the position of your ear lobes. Are they in the middle of your shoulders?
SIX: Neck and shoulders sinking
If your neck is not erect and your shoulders are hunching, you may yourself be susceptible to upper back pain.
- Don’t hunch. Push your shoulder blades back and your chest forward.
- Do a quick check : is your neck sinking into your shoulders? Stretch it high and upwards. It can be helpful to imagine a string pulling you up from the top of your head.
SEVEN: Pusing abdomen and/or pelvis out
In pregnancy, women tend to thrust their tummy and / or pelvic region out while walking. This is very harmful for the back.
- Visualise the curve of the spine while standing and tuck the tummy in as much as possible.
- Wearing comfortable shoes - low-heeled (but not flat) will help.
- The sole of your shoes should not be smooth - you need ridges for good grip.
EIGHT: Standing for too long
While walking around is fine, standing for too long can give you back pain and swelling in the feet.
- Avoid standing in the same position for a long time.
- If you are cooking or making a presentation and need to stand for long, keep one foot on an elevated stool. After 5-10 minutes, switch the leg.
NINE: Keeping knees straight and locked
Keeping your knees locked causes the curve of the lower back to become exaggerated. This puts stress on your spine, over contracting the spinal erectors and other muscles of the low back, increasing pain in the area, as well as making it more difficult to engage your core muscles.
- Slightly bend your knees while standing or walking
- Put a pillow between your bent knees while lying down.
TEN: Sleeping on a lumpy or soft mattress
While a soft mattress may feel luxurious at first, it causes you to sink in so deeply that your joints twist and become painful during the night. This is a posture mistake you can make without even knowing it.
- Use a firm mattress. If you cannot replace your current mattress, place a board under the sheets.
- 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.
Want to know more about sleeping comfort? Check our blog on Sleeping During Pregnancy: Right Positions, Dealing with Insomnia
How to address posture problems in pregnancy
If you have some chronic posture problems, you can take some simple steps to correct them.
FIRST: Visualise your Spine
Your spine is nicely encased and protected in your vertebral column. That column is made up of 33 vertebrae and there are four curvatures in the spine.
These curvatures help in good body movements and distribution of body weight, putting less strain on the muscles.
A side-ways look at the human body will show the following 4 curvatures of the spine:
1. Cervical (back of the neck): the curvature is concave, i.e., bent inwards
2. Thoracic (upper back): the curvature is convex, i.e., the bent is outwards
3. Lumbar (lower back): the curvature is concave, i.e., bent inwards
4. Sacrum and coccyx (the region of the tailbone): slight bent outwards and placed in between the pelvic bones
In pregnancy, women often exaggerate some of the above curvatures because of the growing belly. When you work to correct these, you eliminate the strain on the muscles involved in that action.
SECOND: Strengthen your CORE
Other than correcting the curvatures, you need to strengthen your core. The core of the body refers to the bones and the muscles that are in the centre of your body. It includes the area between both the shoulders and hips.
The core muscles include:
1. Abdominals - Or the muscles in the centre of your body, in front.
2. Back muscles: Or the muscles in the centre of your body, at the back.
3. Buttock muscles.
Some pregnancy-safe exercises to strengthen the core muscles that you can try :
1. Neutral Spine:
- To achieve a neutral spine, stand with your back against a wall.
- While keeping your head, upper back, and tailbone against the wall, you should be able to fit your hand between the wall and your lower back.
- Don't tuck or tilt your spine — find the space between these positions.
2. Four-point kneeling with abdominal bracing:
- Get down on your hands and knees to check that your shoulders are above your hands and that your hips are above your knees.
- Brace your tummy muscles as you raise your left arm and right leg at the same time.
- Hold this position for five seconds, and then do the same with the right arm and the left leg to complete the set. Repeat 10 times for each side.
- When raising your limbs, keep your spine in a neutral position and make sure your lower back is not arched.
- A great way to check your posture is to practise with a mirror on your side and a raised butt is a usual indicator of an overextended spine.
3. Side-lying with hip lift.
- Lift your top leg, and move it up toward the ceiling slightly.
- You can leave your left leg bent or straighten it.
- Press up with your right hip while keeping your left leg up the entire time.
- Lower back to the floor, and repeat reps before switching sides.
You can also exercise with a Swiss Ball by:
- Sitting on the ball
- Sitting with foot lift
- Sitting with clock arms
- Ball bouncing
- Reverse bridging
Of course, doctors recommend that the best way for keeping your posture right is to do yoga under an expert’s guidance.
Read our blog on: Yoga Positions to Improve Posture in Pregnancy.
While you are pregnant, you have two parallel goals to fulfil - one is your own health and fitness, and the other is the baby’s best growth. Both goals need a lot of loving for yourself and your womb! With small lifestyle changes, you can make your pregnancy a remarkable experience for both you and your baby.
The iMumz Womb Care Program offers daily yoga, lifestyle tips, and expert-led classes for making your womb a better place for your baby. It comes with a panel of coaches to be by your side and make your journey amazing.