May 23, 2018

Body Mechanics in Pregnancy

Author: Dr. Alyssa George

During the course of pregnancy, postural changes occur because of hormonal changes affecting the ligaments which allows increased spinal movement in all directions. Coupled with increased breast and uterine weight in the front of the body, the center of gravity shifts forward and up. These postural changes can put increased strain on muscles and joints in your back and pelvis, causing pain and difficulty with movement. Being mindful of your posture and body mechanics can minimize strain and injury and reduce pain throughout pregnancy.

Sleeping Posture

  • Pillows are very helpful with sleeping posture. They can be used under the knees when lying on your back to take pressure off of the low back or behind the back to keep you positioned comfortably on your side.
  • It may be necessary to use a wedge pillow or pillows behind your back to keep you positioned on your side after 28 weeks to minimize compression on the inferior vena cava, a large blood vessel in your belly.

Standing Posture

  • Hold head up straight with chin tucked slightly back.
  • Keep shoulder blades down and back, away from your ears.
  • Stretch the top of your head towards the ceiling.
  • Keep even weight on both feet with feet pointing straight ahead.
  • Avoid standing in the same position for prolonged periods of time.

Getting in/out of bed

  • Roll onto your side (unless you are already there).
  • Bring your legs off the side of the bed while you push through your arms to sit up.
  • Do not use momentum or straining to sit up.
  • Do not swing one leg out of bed by itself; try to keep legs closer together.

Picking up objects

  • Maintain a wide base of support when carrying or picking up objects.
  • Keep a straight spine when bending over by hinging at your hips.
  • Bend at the knees into a squat instead of bending over with your legs straight.
  • Hold objects close to your body to reduce strain on your low back.


  • Use back support or lumbar roll in the curve of your lower spine.
  • Try to adjust your seat so that your knees are at the same height as your hips.
  • Move the seat close enough to the steering wheel to support the curve of your back but make sure you are not too close in case of airbag deployment.
  • Do not swing one leg out of the car by itself; try to keep legs closer together as if you are “wearing a mini-skirt”

Movements to avoid:

  • Avoid legs wide when walking across uneven terrain (keep your legs closer together)
  • Avoid frog kicks (like swimming breaststroke)
  • Avoid climbing stairs more than one step at a time
  • Be cautious with activities that require you to stand on one leg; if you have other children that require you to carry/hold them, be sure to alternate sides and avoid balancing them on your hip while it is popped out to the side.