Blog — Pregnancy posts
Thank you, but I’m OK Standing
— why you might turn down the gallant person offering you a seat.
Who would have thought that sitting could be so difficult? Feel so cramped and awkward? Even painful? In my massage practice I see many pregnant clients who find sofas and seats very uncomfortable.
Soft, squishy cushions do not offer support to pregnant hips, and people with pelvic girdle pain may find some chairs exacerbate the feelings of misalignment through their pelvis. The voluminous depth of material in a sofa can be constricting, trapping you so that movement is hampered and getting back up becomes impossible.
Those same sofas and cushions are not helpful for pregnant people whose ribcages are already compromised by a growing bump. Reclining on sofas can force pregnant bumps higher into the diaphragm and ribcage, which leads to difficulty breathing and pain where the displaced ribs attach at the spine (upper back, between the shoulder blades, bra-strap area.)
You may find harder, rigid, upright chairs better to sit on, such as a dining room chair. These seats are more supportive across the back, do not send the hips in different directions, and allow space for the ribcage. Ensure you are sitting with your bottom at the back of the chair, and you may want to use a small cushion at the small of your back for comfort. Keep your posture upright and open. Imagine a rectangle from shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, and try to keep this rectangle open. To help you to do this use a footstool, even if your legs are long and your feet are flat on the floor, a footstool will help you to keep your bottom at the back of your chair, and your spine upright.
The other thing to remember is to change your position often. Do not stay in one seat for a long time, get up often and go for a small walk, do some stretches, bounce on an exercise ball. Going up and down stairs slowly can be really useful at helping to open up the pelvis, giving you a slight massage and relieving tension there. Then, when you sit back down, check your posture and make sure you are sitting in a supported and open position.
However, sitting straight upright all the time can feel miserable and austere.
The answer is to stand! Standing up can be such a joy! Standing and swaying your hips from side to side even more so! Feel the space in your ribcage, the breadth in your pelvis, and the freedom of movement in your legs! Oh, the relief!
Here is a short video I made during the Coronavirus crisis when we were in lockdown in the UK. It includes some tips for sitting comfortably during pregnancy, especially if you are working at a desk. Those of you who are experiencing lower or upper back pain in particular may find the tips useful.
Your body is changing, your muscles ache, your pelvis is softening to accommodate your growing baby, your organs are running out of space. Feelings of congestion, breathlessness, tiredness, and constantly needing the toilet are common! Physically it may seem you don’t recognise your own body.
Emotions are also not under your control. Your hormones take over, and suddenly simple actions, decision making, and day to day existence can become overwhelming. Plus, looming large on the horizon is your labour. Not to mention the following days, weeks, years of being a parent.
On top of this are the stories you have heard, the TV shows you have watched, and the advice from “well-meaning” friends and family to contend with. A book you read tells you one thing, your antenatal class another, and the hospital disagrees with both. You are on an enormous learning curve, discovering a new language of induction, breastpads, and centile. You are trying to feel in control but your due date could actually be any day within a 5 week time period. You have to guess how you will feel during labour and what you will need – tense machine, water injections, epidural?
Some people have longed to be pregnant, some people have struggled to become pregnant, some have had miscarriages, some have used IVF, and some have had pregnancy thrust upon them. Every pregnant couple has their own story, and their own hopes and fears.
Know that you are unique. Your pregnancy, your baby, you, your partner, your situation – all unique and special. Give yourself time and space to adjust and to learn. Be kind to yourself, indulge yourself, allow yourself to be a mess at times. Slow down. Breathe. You can do this.