The Best Way to Sit In Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is a fantastic time for a woman but can also be uncomfortable. One of the most important things to do during pregnancy is to find comfortable ways to sit. Here are four tips for sitting comfortably in pregnancy.

As a general rule, the best way to sit during pregnancy is by getting your seat as high as possible with your feet on the ground. Sit back, keeping your knees two inches from the edge of your seat, and use lumbar support as well as keep your hips above your knees.

As an expectant mother, you are likely to experience some back pain. This is due to the added weight and strain on your spine and posture. Getting your seat right will help to alleviate some of this pain by taking the pressure off your spine and improving your posture. However, there are some caveats that I need to guide you through.

Let me explain why you should read this article:

I practiced across the street from one of Europe’s largest maternity hospitals in Dublin, Ireland. Many of my chiropractic practice involved expecting mothers suffering from back pain and other biomechanical issues.  I’m also trained as an ergonomist; published a book on posture; spoke on this subject on national tv, designed an orthopedic mattress and neck pain pillow ran a successful Kickstarter campaign on posture correcting devices. Therefore, I can help you to stay comfortable and pain-free during your pregnancy.

What Causes Back Pain During Pregnancy?

Back pain is a common complaint during pregnancy, with up to 80% of women experiencing it at some point. The majority of cases occur in the first and second trimesters.

Mechanical Issues

There are several reasons why back pain is more prevalent during pregnancy. As the baby grows, the mother’s center of gravity shifts forward, placing additional strain on the lower back and pelvis. In addition, the ligaments that support the spine become softer and more elastic, which can add to the pain.

Sitting

Although a pregnant woman’s body undergoes many changes, the most pronounced change is the increased size of the abdomen. This increase in size places additional strain on the lower back, leading to pain and discomfort. The lumbar spine typically has a lordotic curve or C-shaped curvature. However, during pregnancy, this curve reverses, causing an increase in lordosis—a condition known as compensatory lordosis. This places extra strain on the lumbar joints, muscles, ligaments, and discs when sitting, leading to back pain. Additionally, the growing uterus can pressure the sciatic nerve, shooting pain down the leg. While these changes are normal and necessary for pregnancy, they can be very uncomfortable for the expectant mother.

Standing

Some pregnant women experience pain while standing, especially during the third trimester. This is often due to the added weight and pressure on the lower back and pelvis. As the baby grows, the uterus stretches and puts pressure on the lower back muscles. This can cause pain or discomfort, particularly when standing for long periods.

Sleeping

The most common culprits of back pain during pregnancy are a wrong mattress and pillows that don’t support the neck properly. A too-soft mattress can cause the hips to sink in, putting pressure on the lower back. A mattress that’s too firm can cause the spine to arch, leading to back pain. The best mattress for pregnant women is an orthopedic mattress that provides support without being too soft or too firm. As for pillows, ergonomic pillows are designed to provide neck support and prevent headaches and stiffness. If you’re struggling with pain when sleeping during pregnancy, make sure you have the right mattress and pillow to help you get a good night’s rest.

Hormonal Issues

Hormonal changes can cause the joints to loosen, further exacerbating the problem. While back pain is often simply a nuisance, it can occasionally be a sign of a more serious issue such as vertebral fracture or preeclampsia. If you are experiencing severe back pain, consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Best Way to Protect Your Back and Pelvis in Pregnancy

Seat Mechanics

prssure on body from different sitting angle chart

In my practice, one of the less pleasant side effects of pregnancy can be back pain, particularly when sitting. There are several reasons for this. As your baby grows, your center of gravity changes, putting more strain on your back muscles. Additionally, your baby’s weight can compress the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your legs. The good news is that you can take steps to reduce your risk of back pain during pregnancy. One of the most important is to maintain a forward tilt when sitting. In other words, your hips should be higher than your knees, and the bulk of your weight should be shifted from your spine to your core. While this may not be possible if you don’t have an ergonomic office chair, there are other options, such as an ergonomic wedge cushion. Adjusting your posture can significantly affect the amount of pain you experience.

Sleeping Posture

best pillow for pregnancy

There are some things you can do to improve your sleep during pregnancy. One of the best positions for pregnant women is side sleeping. The pillow in the picture above is one of my own patented ergonomic pillows.  Getting the pillow right is essential as this side position sleeping helps to take the pressure off your back and neck and can also help to reduce the risk of stillbirth. Additionally, placing a pillow between your knees will help to keep your spine aligned and reduce back pain. If you are getting too hot at night, try sleeping with a cool, damp cloth on your forehead. And finally, make sure to listen to your body and get up frequently to move around. By following these tips, you should be able to get a good night’s sleep despite your pregnancy.

The Benefits of Kneeling Chairs for Pregnancy

As a general rule, kneeling chairs can be helpful for pregnancy in achieving good posture, as they encourage an open hip angle and maintain the natural S-curve in the spine. Additionally, kneeling chairs can improve breathing and digestion and strengthen back and core muscles. 

When you sit in a conventional chair, your hips are flexed at a 90-degree angle, putting pressure on your spine and causing you to slouch. However, when you use a kneeling chair, your hips are flexed at a 135-degree angle, which opens up your hip joints and engages your core muscles. This improved posture helps to reduce pressure on your spine and improve your breathing and digestion. Additionally, using a kneeling chair gradually strengthens your back and core muscles, which can help prevent pain and injuries. Ultimately, kneeling chairs offer a variety of benefits for your overall health and well-being. (source)

pregnancy sitting options

The Downside of Kneeling Chairs for Pregnancy

As anyone who has ever been pregnant knows, many challenges come with the territory. Pregnancy can be pretty uncomfortable, from morning sickness and fatigue to back pain and swollen feet. And, as the belly grows, it can become increasingly difficult to find a comfortable position. Many women find traditional office chairs simply too uncomfortable to sit in for prolonged periods, so they turn to kneeling chairs as an alternative. (source)

I wrote a ‘hands-on’ article explaining the unknown pros and cons of kneeling chairs HERE.

pregnant woman on kneeling chair

However, I found with my patients that there are downsides to using a kneeling chair during pregnancy. First, they can put additional pressure on the knees and legs, leading to cramping and pain. Additionally, they can worsen your posture unless they are used correctly, leading to even more back pain. And finally, because they are not specifically designed for pregnant women, they often lack the necessary padding and support to make them truly comfortable. So, while a kneeling chair may be a tempting option for pregnant women struggling to find comfort, it is crucial to weigh the pros and cons before deciding.

Can I Lean Back in a Chair While Pregnant?

As a general rule, you can lean back in a chair when pregnant as long as you avoid lying flat. Sleeping in a recliner can be safe and comfortable during pregnancy. And it can even help to prevent GERD and acid reflux. Just be sure to get up and move around often.         (source)

While most people think of pregnancy as a time for taking it easy, the reality is that many women find themselves just as busy as ever. Finding time to put your feet up and relax can be challenging between work, taking care of the house, and running errands. However, according to experts, getting enough rest is essential for a healthy pregnancy. So, if reclining makes you comfier, by all means, do it!

Can I Sit on a Chair While Pregnant?

Many pregnant women worry about whether sitting in a chair during pregnancy is safe. While it is generally safe to do so, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid sitting on a stool or a chair without a backrest. This can place an unnecessary strain on your back. 
  • Try to find a comfortable position in the chair. This may mean adjusting the seat’s height or using a pillow for support. 
  • Make sure to get up and move around frequently. Pregnancy can be taxing on your body, and sitting in one position for too long can lead to discomfort. 

Following these simple guides ensures that sitting in a chair during pregnancy is safe and comfortable for you and your baby.

Should I Avoid Massage Chairs While Pregnant?

According to my research on PubMed and Google Scholar, the answer is yes. While there have been claims that a massage chair can lead to miscarriage or premature labor, it is difficult to find evidence that that is true. Massage chairs used as intended are generally safe when pregnant. That said, it is always essential to consult with your healthcare provider before using any type of massage chair, just to be sure. They can give you specific advice based on your health and pregnancy. (source)

I was surprised how similar cheap memory foam seat cushions were on Aliexpress from the listing on Amazon!

Here are some of the potential concerns:

Vibration

In general, a massage chair’s vibrations don’t cause any harm. Moreover, even if you use the highest setting, there is no risk to your belly since you are seated.

Pressure 

Similarly, the pressure on these chairs isn’t intense enough to trigger labor. 

Heat

Although applying heat to a massage chair will probably be pretty mild, it’s always a good idea to monitor how much heat your body is exposed to during pregnancy. Before using a massage chair, ask your doctor or midwife if you have any concerns.

back pain with pregnancy

How Should You Sit in a Chair While Pregnant?

When you are pregnant, it is essential to be mindful of your posture and how you are sitting. This is because pregnancy can put a lot of strain on your back, and you may experience pain. To reduce back pain and improve circulation while sitting, get your seat as high as possible with your feet on the ground. Ensure that you sit back into the seat, so there is 2″ of space between the edge of the seat and your back. Use lumbar support and keep your hips above your knees at all times. By following these tips, you can help to reduce back pain and improve your overall comfort while pregnant.  (source)

If you are into super easy and inexpensive alternatives to office chairs, I wrote a fantastic article on how and why you should consider these options for back pain, and I encourage you to read it!

 

What is the Best Seat Cushion for Pregnancy?

seat cushion for better posture

As a chiropractor, I have seen firsthand how difficult pregnancy can be on a woman’s body, especially regarding back pain. For years, I tried out different seat cushions to find one that would provide comfort and support for my pregnant patients, but I never found the perfect solution. Eventually, I decided to design my seat cushion, and after many prototypes and tests, I finally arrived at a design that worked like a charm. My seat cushion is made of (natural latex) high-density foam and contoured to support the lower back (and eco-friendly!). As a result, it is extremely comfortable and helps to reduce back pain during pregnancy.

thespinery.com seat cushion

I wanted to create a cushion to help relieve their pain and improve their quality of life. After months of testing different prototypes, I finally designed a seat cushion that met all my criteria. The cushion is made from natural latex, which is more supportive than memory foam or polyurethane foams. It also has a higher density that helps to keep the spine in alignment. Additionally, the cushion has a 4-way stretch vegan leather that is comfortable and durable. The cushion has helped many of my patients find relief from back pain, and I am confident that it can help you too. If you are suffering from back pain, I encourage you to try my seat cushion. It just might be the relief you’ve been looking for.

I explain the concept of my design on a TV show HERE

 

What is the Best Lumbar Support for Pregnancy?

the best lumbar support cushion

Above is one of my lumbar support designs.  It is made from natural (non-toxic) ingredients and offers extreme comfort, especially for my pregnancy patients!

Decent lumbar support is essential because bad posture during pregnancy is a common cause of back pain, and a lumbar cushion can help improve your posture and reduce pain. Your muscles and spine are correctly aligned when you sit or stand with good posture. This alignment reduces the tension in your lower back and allows your muscles to work more efficiently. 

I’ve written a complete hands-on review about the Best Seat Cushion for Pregnancy, and here are some of the shocking issues I ran into in this post!

 

Lumbar support helps maintain this alignment, preventing you from slouching or hunching over. As a result, you experience less back pain and improved spinal health. In addition, good posture makes you look taller and more confident. Whether sitting at a desk all day or standing on your feet for hours, lumbar support can make a big difference in your comfort and well-being.

the correct way to sit

Why Shouldn’t You Cross Your Legs When Pregnant?

For many expectant mothers, crossing their legs is a comfortable seat. However, crossing your legs can cause ankle swelling or leg cramps as the pregnancy progresses. This is because the position puts pressure on the veins that return blood from the lower extremities to the heart. Due to this, the veins can become pooled, causing swelling and discomfort. If you find your ankles swelling or your legs cramping, try sitting with both feet on the floor or a stool. This will help to reduce pressure on the veins and allow for better blood flow. In addition, be sure to take breaks often and move around to keep your circulation moving.

Can Bending Hurt the Baby?

The short answer is, not really. Here’s why:

Amniotic fluid is a clear liquid that surrounds and cushions your baby during pregnancy. It’s made up of water, protein, carbohydrates, and fat. The amniotic sac is the membrane that surrounds and protects the baby. The baby grows inside the sac, and as the pregnancy progresses, there’s less room for the baby to move around. Amniotic fluid also helps to prevent infection and keeps the temperature inside the womb stable. 

It’s normal for pregnant women to worry about squishing their baby, but it’s implausible that anything will happen to the baby due to you bending over. The chances of you injuring your baby are much higher if you fall or are in a car accident. So, if you’re worried about squishing your baby, just be careful when you’re on your feet and take breaks often to rest.

Can You Sleep in Recliner While Pregnant?

First, let me point out that a good night’s sleep is essential for physical and mental health, yet many women struggle to get the rest they need. One primary reason for this is pressure points or discomfort while sleeping. Many of you toss and turn all night, trying to find a position that doesn’t cause pain. 

I’ve written a complete hands-on review about the best sitting position for sciatica, and here is what I tested best with my sciatica patients.

Side sleeping is often touted as the best position for preventing pain, but finding a comfortable way to do it can still be challenging. Placing a pillow between your legs or sleeping with a body-length pillow can make you more comfortable. Some women prefer to give up the bed entirely and sleep in a reclining chair. If this works for you, then do it! The main goal, again, is to get a restful night’s sleep. No matter your position, comfort is key to getting the rest you need.

Can You Lay On Your Back on the Couch While Pregnant?

Many pregnant women find it comfortable to sleep on their sides, especially in the latter stages of pregnancy. However, some women continue to sleep on their backs, even though they are told this is not good for the baby. So, what is the truth? Can you lay on your back on the couch while pregnant?

The answer appears to be that it depends. If you are only mildly pregnant and prop up pillows on your couch at an approximately 30-degree angle, then you should be fine. This will relieve any potential pressure on blood vessels. However, sleeping on your back may not be advisable if you are further along in your pregnancy or cannot support a 30-degree angle. In this case, it would be better to sleep on your side or use a pillow to prop yourself up at an angle. As always, it is best to consult your doctor before changing your sleep habits.

How Long Can You Lay On Your Back When Pregnant?

As a general rule, after 28 weeks of gestation, back sleeping is no longer safe for pregnant women. However, there are a few other comfortable positions for expectant mothers to safely doze in. Side sleeping is generally considered the best option during pregnancy, as it helps to reduce the risk of stillbirth. Some women find that placing a pillow between their knees can help to improve comfort and alleviate pressure on the lower back. In addition, many women find that sleeping on their left side helps to improve circulation and prevent heartburn. Whatever position you choose, make sure to use a pregnancy pillow to support your belly and maintain a comfortable temperature in the bedroom. By taking a few simple precautions, you can ensure a restful night’s sleep throughout your pregnancy.

Conclusion:

While you may be tempted to put your feet up on the desk or lounge in a recliner, these positions are not good for your baby or you. Following the guidelines we’ve outlined for you can keep you comfortable and healthy during your pregnancy. What is your favorite way to sit during pregnancy?

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. Vaucher, M., Isner-Horobeti, M.E., Demattei, C., Alonso, S., Hérisson, C., Kouyoumdjian, P., van Dieën, J.H. and Dupeyron, A., 2015. Effect of a kneeling chair on lumbar curvature in patients with low back pain and healthy controls: A pilot study. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine58(3), pp.151-156.
  2. Gilleard, W., Crosbie, J. and Smith, R., 2008. A longitudinal study of the effect of pregnancy on rising to stand from a chair. Journal of Biomechanics41(4), pp.779-787.
  3. Atkins, A.J.F., Watt, J.M., Milan, P., Davies, P. and Crawford, J.S., 1981. The influence of posture upon cardiovascular dynamics throughout pregnancy. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology12(6), pp.357-372.
  4. Thomas, R.B., 2019. A pilot study of partner chair massage effects on perinatal mood, anxiety, and pain. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork12(2), p.3.
  5. Glinkowski, W.M., Tomasik, P., Walesiak, K., Głuszak, M., Krawczak, K., Michoński, J., Czyżewska, A., Żukowska, A., Sitnik, R. and Wielgoś, M., 2016. Posture and low back pain during pregnancy—3D study. Ginekologia Polska87(8), pp.575-580.
  6. Sabino, J. and Grauer, J.N., 2008. Pregnancy and low back pain. Current reviews in musculoskeletal medicine1(2), pp.137-141.
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Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Founder

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

 

Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort. With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

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