If you are generally healthy, bending over is something you have done countless times without a second thought. However, for pregnant women, what may have once been a reflexive action now becomes a cause for concern.
Bending over becomes more difficult as pregnancy progresses. Is this difficulty something you should worry about? Can bending over during pregnancy hurt your baby? Fear not; we have some recommendations to help guide you in safely bending during pregnancy.
When Is Bending Safe During Pregnancy?
As you have likely heard many times, every pregnancy is different. Ease of movement will vary among pregnant women, and even among each pregnancy you experience. In general, however, there are stages of pregnancy where bending over is safer than others.
During the first trimester of a healthy pregnancy, there are no concerns about bending over. You will generally experience the same flexibility as you did pre-pregnancy, and your little one is just that—little! They are much too small to limit your mobility at this stage, as your baby bump is more or less unnoticeable.
When you enter the second trimester, the concerns about bending over are still low in a healthy pregnancy. You may have some more limitations on your flexibility as your baby bump appears, but your little one is still small and well protected. The amniotic fluid surrounding them acts as a cushion, protecting them from any bending or body postures you may be in.
As you adjust to carrying your growing baby, you may notice a shift in your center of gravity. This means that you might become off-balance in movements where you weren’t before. As your baby bump becomes heavier and more pronounced, this can lead to an increased risk of falling. This lack of balance may make bending over riskier.
Heavy lifting is not recommended after the first trimester. As you reach the later stages of pregnancy, your abdominal muscles are still supporting your growing baby, but they may weaken, putting more strain on your back muscles. Take this time to relax and listen to your body. Don’t make any movements that do not feel right for you. If you can’t avoid must bending over, use a similar body posture as you would when lifting something heavy.
When to Stop Bending During Pregnancy
When you reach the third trimester of pregnancy, bending over may come with increased risks. If you feel any pain while bending over, this is your signal to stop. With the size of your baby bump and the strain on your ligaments, bending over will become more difficult, if not impossible, at this stage of pregnancy. Remember to ask for help and support when you need it—you’ve earned it!
Maintaining a good posture can help ease back pain as your pregnancy progresses. Try your best not to slouch or arch your back. A nice, relaxed spine is the best position.
Your growing baby will put extra strain on your ligaments, and there is less amniotic fluid surrounding them in the womb to cushion them. Certain body postures, like bending, may cause discomfort or pain, signaling you to avoid them during this final stage of pregnancy.
Consequences of Bending While Pregnant
There are other symptoms that can occur that signal it is time to stop bending over. These include:
As noted earlier, pressure from your growing baby can cause discomfort in your abdominal muscles. Bending may also cause them to stretch even more, leading to further strain or injury.
Hormones like relaxin allow your ligaments to loosen, leading to extra strain on your back and abdominal muscles as your ligaments relax. Improper posture can exacerbate the discomfort and risk of injury in pregnant women.
Lower Back Pain
Along with the extra strain on your back muscles caused by weakened abdominal muscles, bending over with lower back pain can cause even more pain if you are already experiencing it. Even if you aren’t experiencing lower back pain yet, there is still the risk of it occurring after bending over due to the weight, pressure, and hormones of the third trimester. Relaxing in a warm bath or using a chair with lumbar support can help ease some of your pain.
When bending during pregnancy, you may experience dizziness. This symptom becomes more frequent as your blood volume increases throughout pregnancy. The further along you are in your pregnancy, the higher your blood volume becomes.
With all of this extra blood volume, bending over can cause a sudden increase in the blood flow to your head, making you dizzy. You can take precautions by being mindful of your body posture when bending or by avoiding bending altogether.
Acid Reflux or Heartburn
Acid reflux causes heartburn. Heartburn can feel like a mild burning sensation in your chest or in the back of your throat. Acid reflux and heartburn occur when stomach acid makes its way out of the stomach.
As ligaments loosen and the pressure from your uterus increases, leaning or bending over during pregnancy can trigger acid reflux or heartburn. This is an unfortunate and common pregnancy symptom even without bending over. Acid reflux and heartburn can begin as early as the first trimester. Being mindful of what you eat may help, or your doctor may suggest OTC medicines.
How to Bend Correctly
There is a proper way to bend over, even when you are in the first trimester and early second trimester. Using a proper body posture while bending over may also lessen the undesirable symptoms associated with bending during the third trimester. Here are some tips for correctly bending over when you cannot avoid it!
To avoid blood rushing to your head and causing dizziness try bending over using a body posture similar to a squat or a lunge, instead of doing it headfirst.
Bend at the knees instead of folding at the middle.
Keep your back straight and your head above your chest as you lower yourself down.
Spreading your knees apart will help you better maintain your center of gravity and lower your risk of falling.
Use your hands and knees to help you stand back up.
Proper Posture in Other Positions
There are other body postures to be aware of while pregnant as well:
Sitting: In addition to keeping your back straight, keep your feet flat on the ground and avoid crossing your legs to allow for proper blood flow. If you struggle with maintaining a straight back, try tilting your pelvis forward. Using a chair with lower back support can help, like the Nurture& Glider Plus with power lumbar support.
When you reach the third trimester, driving may become more difficult and uncomfortable. Begin alleviating this by adjusting your steering wheel away from your growing belly. You may want to place a small pillow or a rolled towel behind your back to help support it and avoid back pain.
Even while standing, it is important to be mindful of your body posture. Do not lock your knees, as this restricts blood flow in everyone, not just pregnant women. Spread your feet about as wide as your hips to properly distribute your weight, and do not stick out your bottom, as this arches your back and causes strain. Keep your shoulders relaxed and back. Avoid arching or hunching your back.
Things to Avoid
Along with bending over, lifting heavy objects and standing for long periods of time should also be avoided as you getcontinue through your the third trimester. As long as you are experiencing a healthy pregnancy, gentle physical activity is healthy throughout all stages of pregnancy, and will make you feel better too!
Avoid leaning over your baby bump while you sit: t. This could lead to weakened abdominal muscles and back pain. Using good posture and keeping your back straight will help you avoid many of the symptoms associated with bending over while you are sitting as well.
You may also find yourself bending over to get out of bed. To avoid this, try rolling to your side and swinging your legs over instead of folding at your abdomen. This technique will be most beneficial in the third trimester when your baby bump is restricting your movements.
Other sleep tips include sleeping on your left side, which has been said to increase blood flow to your growing baby. It is safest to avoid sleeping on your back after the 20-week mark in the second trimester.
When you reach the third trimester, try to avoid standing for more than three hours at a time whenever possible. Along with not lifting heavy objects, pregnant women should not lift objects above their heads or balance on top of objects.
Some common household tasks where you may bend include folding laundry, bathing dogs or children, mopping or sweeping the floor, or emptying the dishwasher—to name a few. Be mindful of your body posture and remember to ask for help when it is needed. Anything that causes you to bend at the waist should be avoided.
Bending over is generally safe during a healthy pregnancy. As your baby bump grows and you enter the third trimester, there are some precautions you can take to help prevent symptoms, complications, and injuries associated with bending over and other body postures. Remember that although it may seem like a lot of restrictions, they aren’t forever! So relax, enjoy your pregnancy, and listen to your body.
We hope these tips have been informative and that you have a safe and healthy pregnancy!
For more information on all things pregnancy and beyond, check out our other posts on the Nurture& website. While you’re there, we invite you to explore our collection of nursery essentials, including the award-winning glider!