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Maintaining Good Posture During Pregnancy
As your body changes shape and gains pounds during pregnancy, your posture will be affected. Your lower back will sway as the weight of the baby moves your centre of gravity forward. Back strain is as common as swollen ankles during pregnancy. But if you learn to have proper alignment and use good body mechanics early in pregnancy, you are likely to have less difficulty with back pain and fatigue later on.

Good posture is the result of learning to stand tall, wearing supportive shoes, and using your abdominal muscles to support your back. To practice good posture, stand without shoes and lean your back against a wall—you should have your ears in line with your shoulders and hips, your chin should be tucked slightly down. Try to bring your lower back close to the wall. This will involve tilting your pelvis forward slightly. As you stand, draw in your abdominal muscles, imagining you could pull your navel both inwards and upwards. While you are standing tall, practice breathing, keeping your shoulders relaxed.

After you are accustomed to this position, move away from the wall see if you can maintain your alignment. Practice breathing and begin walking around the room, being conscious of using good posture.

When you are sitting, apply some of the same rules. Keep your head in a neutral position with your chin slightly tucked down, elevate your torso without lifting your shoulders, use your abdominal muscles to maintain your posture and avoid slouching. Your chair should support the length of your thighs, and your knees should be at the same level as your hips. Avoid crossing your legs to maintain good circulation, and take frequent breaks to walk or stretch.

It is best to avoid standing in one position for long periods of time. Use a step stool to support one of your legs if you do need to stand for a while; this will keep your lower back from swaying. Avoid high heels, especially during later pregnancy— they will only accentuate poor posture and will create more difficulties with balance. If you begin to develop low back pain, invest in a maternity support belt to provide support to your abdominal muscles and back. And take the time to rest. Lying on your side will relieve your low back pain and maintain adequate blood flow to your baby.

You’ll benefit from the above skills beyond your pregnancy. In fact, once you learn to maintain good posture, you will have less back pain and better endurance for years to come.
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist