Tips for an Injury-Free Pregnancy

Updated: Mar 4

During your pregnancy your body will change and your posture will adapt in response to this. Your abdominal muscles will stretch and be less able to protect your spine and pelvis. Your ligaments will soften and lengthen under the effect of hormones. Your pelvis may become more mobile. Your pelvic floor will weaken under the increasing weight of your baby, the influence of hormones, and a possible change in bowel habits. You should take extra care to protect yourself from pain or injury during this time.



Take Care of Your Back

To prevent or reduce pain and injury, postural awareness and looking after your back and pelvis are very important.

· Stand or sit tall. Imagine a string attached to the top of your head pulling upwards, gently lengthening your spine.

· Don’t let your chin poke out.

· Avoid slouching.

· Keep your lower back in a neutral position. Try not to flatten or exaggerate the natural curve.

Take Care of Your Pelvis

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is common in pregnancy and can be caused or aggravated by asymmetrical activities such as:

· Putting pants, shoes or socks on while standing

· Rolling in bed with with legs apart.

· Getting in and out of the car one leg at a time.

· Going up and down stairs.

To reduce the likelihood of this happening, try instead to:

· Put pants, shoes and socks on in a sitting position.

· Keep your knees together, push through your heels and and lift your bottom when rolling over in bed.

· Keep your knees together and pivot in and out of the car.

· Take stairs one step and a time, or if you already have PGP that is aggravated by stairs, take the lift if this is an option.



Consider your posture when standing

Share your weight evenly between both your feet and try not to lean on one leg for too long. Try to:

· Keep your toes pointed forward e.g. when washing dishes or driving a car. Stand and walk tall. Imagine a string attached to the top of your head pulling you upwards, gently lengthening your spine.

· Keep your shoulders slightly back, tummy gently in, and bottom under.

· Use your muscles to hold you up!



Consider your posture when sitting

During pregnancy, the fatigue is real, and it can be all too easy to slowly slump into your chair, particularly towards the end of the day. To reduce the risk of developing pain from sitting try to:

· Sit on your sit bones rather than the soft part of your bottom and share your weight evenly across both sides.

· Use a lumbar roll or rolled towel to provide support for your lower back, especially if you are sitting for long periods.

· Rest your upper back on your chair and pull the chair as close to the desk as you can (this will depend on what stage of pregnancy you are in!)

· Make sure your feet are flat on the ground (resting on your toes can cause awful calf cramps) and use a footrest if you can’t reach. Avoid crossing your legs.



Sleeping

It is recommended to sleep left-side lying when pregnant. To get comfortable, use a pillow between your knees. If you are experiencing hip pain, place a pillow or two behind your back and roll slightly off your hip so that you are turned 1⁄4 towards your back. This will take the pressure off your hip and hopefully allow you to have a better night’s sleep!

Getting in and out of bed

When getting in and out of bed, it is important to avoid using your abdominal muscles to help you get up and down due to the increased strain that this movement places on them. Follow these few steps to safely move in and out of bed:

Sitting to lying:

· Sit on the edge of your bed

1. Bring your legs up onto the bed

2. At the same time, use your hands to start to lower you down until you are rested on your side

Lying to sitting:

· Bend your knees and roll to one side

1. Let your legs hang over the edge of your bed

2. Use your hands to push yourself up into sitting position



Safe lifting and carrying

Try to avoid lifting anything too heavy. If you already have one or more young children, allow them to do as much for themselves as they can. Have footstools available and encourage them to climb into their own car seat, up onto chairs and into bed.

If you have to lift an object, gently activate your pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles before and during the lift. Bend at the hips and knees, rather than at your back. Keep the load small and close to your body.

Bending

Kneel or squat for low-level jobs. Avoid stooping over low surfaces especially for long periods. Avoid bending and twisting your back.


Don't forget to see your women's health physiotherapist for a prenatal check-up in each trimester and then for your 6-week postnatal check!

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