Pregnancy is usually a special time in a woman’s life. It’s so exciting to watch your baby bump grow.
Despite the excitement, there’s no denying that pregnancy places extra demands on a woman’s body.
If you’ve passed your first trimester of pregnancy, you might have begun to notice certain body postures and positions becoming a problem for you.
Lifting and bending become increasingly difficult as your pregnancy progresses.
It’s generally known that lifting heavy objects while pregnant is not recommended, but what about bending down?
Is bending down bad during pregnancy?
How do pregnant women bend?
Dr. Clare Gordon, an osteopath at Liforce Osteopathy has offered the following advice and precautions for pregnant women who are wondering, ‘How do you bend when pregnant?’
Dr. Gordon says:
“Every woman is different and every pregnancy is different. For some women bending down can be done with ease, and for others, it causes extreme pain.
“As the pregnancy progresses and the belly becomes bigger, the center of gravity changes, which will alter how we do certain movements – with bending down (or flexion) being one of them.
If there’s pain, or if a woman wants to avoid bad posture habits to prevent injury or further pain, Dr. Gordon advises the following tips:
- Try to bend down by flexing/bending your knees, not bending from your hip; this will lessen the pressure on the lower back when trying to stand up straight again.
- When using your knees to bend down, try to keep your legs closer together; this will lessen the chance of straining your pubic symphysis (the joint at the front of your pelvis)
- Use furniture to help you bend down to take the pressure off your joints and muscles to support you.
- Keep a straight back
- Where possible, ask someone to do it for you
- If you’re in a lot of pain, or if you injure yourself, please see a professional (such as an osteopath) who is experienced in pregnancy, to help you.
Can I squish my baby when bending over?
You might wonder whether bending over when pregnant can squish your baby.
The chances of something happening to your baby as a result of you bending over are next to none.
Your baby is protected by amniotic fluid during pregnancy. The amniotic fluid acts as a safeguard – a buffer between your baby and the outside world.
Although it might feel uncomfortable for you to bend over, rest assured your baby is able to move her head and body around, and readjust to find a more comfortable position inside your womb.
Bending during pregnancy: the first trimester
In your first trimester, you’ll find your baby bump probably won’t get in the way too much when you are bending down.
There are precautions you should take, though, to protect yourself from harm.
Good posture will protect your back muscles and can also prevent you from suffering back pain as your pregnancy progresses.
If you need to pick something up from the ground, don’t bend from the waist. Instead, bend your knees, keep your back straight and pick it up from a squat position.
The same method is recommended for lifting heavy objects. Remember, however, lifting anything during pregnancy should be done with extreme care.
If your workplace requires you to undertake heavy lifting, it would be worthwhile to ask your doctor or ob/gyn to write a letter, outlining their recommended precautions with regard to the health and safety of pregnant women.
Bending during pregnancy: the third trimester
Even in your third trimester of pregnancy, bending is still considered safe for your baby.
You’ll probably find it becomes increasingly difficult for you, though, if not impossible.
Apart from your extra body weight, the size of your belly is increasing. This puts extra pressure on your back, hips, legs, knees, and feet.
The third trimester is a good time in your pregnancy to ask for and accept, any and all offers of help.
Your body is doing an amazing job. It’s nourishing your baby and preparing for birth.
Make sure you make plenty of time to put your feet up and relax each day.
And, if you haven’t already done it, start delegating household tasks to others.
Is it ok to lean forward when pregnant?
Leaning forward might be just as difficult as bending, depending on the stage you’ve reached in your pregnancy.
It’s important to maintain good posture throughout your pregnancy, so as to protect your lower back, hips, knees, and legs from injury. Once you have back pain, it often takes quite a while to go away.
To maintain good posture, keep your back straight and avoid bending or lifting anything too heavy.
Leaning forward too often during pregnancy will not affect your birth outcomes. And there is no evidence to suggest that bending over or leaning forward during pregnancy can cause miscarriage.
When you lean forward while pregnant, however, you might find the pressure of your baby causes stomach acid to rise up your esophagus (food pipe), resulting in a common pregnancy complaint: acid reflux, or heartburn.
Sometimes, this can be relieved simply by changing your position and paying attention to your body posture.
When you’re in bed, lying on your left side, rather than on your belly or your back, can also reduce the risk of rising stomach acid.
This is also the optimal sleep position for maximizing blood flow to your baby.
Can I squish my baby while sitting and leaning forward?
Just like bending, it’s ok to lean forward when you’re pregnant. Your baby is safe and protected by the fluid inside your womb.
As previously mentioned, though, good posture will help you avoid any harm and unnecessary pain while you’re pregnant.
Using a correctly sized fit ball is an ideal way to maintain great posture. It’s also good for optimal fetal positioning, which can help you have a better childbirth experience.
Sit with your hips and knees no higher than a right angle to the floor, and keep your feet flat, so your weight balanced is even.
Having your hips higher than your knees can help the baby get into a more favorable position before labor. Slouching encourages a posterior presenting baby (meaning the baby’s back is resting against yours), which can result in longer and more painful labor. This is also called back labor.
Avoid crossing your legs and wearing shoes that can add stress to your posture, such as heels. Good shoes for pregnancy should not be too high or too flat and should support the arches of your feet.
Why does my stomach hurt when I bend over during pregnancy?
As your baby grows, the ligaments of the uterus also grow, to support your expanding belly.
During pregnancy, you might experience something called round ligament pain. It can happen during exercise and when you quickly change positions, such as bending or changing from one sleeping position to another.
Round ligament pain feels like a sharp pain, low in your belly or groin area, and can be on one or both sides.
Taking the precautions listed earlier in this article will help reduce the occurrence of round ligament pain.
Pain after bending over when pregnant
Some pain (like round ligament pain) is considered normal in pregnancy. If you’re concerned about pain during any stage of your pregnancy, however, you should seek advice from your doctor.
Signs to stop work during pregnancy
If you’re becoming increasingly uncomfortable, or if you are spending a lot of time on your feet in your workplace, it might be worthwhile considering starting your maternity leave earlier than planned.
You know your body best. If you start to feel as though pushing on for an extra couple of weeks could take its toll on your physical or mental health, then it’s up to you to make the call.
Maternity leave is the first important part of the transition into motherhood.
You can read more about this in 7 Reasons You Should Take Maternity Leave From Life.