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Can Workstation Ergonomics Ease the Aches and Pains of Pregnancy?

Your office chair may be suitable when you’re not pregnant, but what about when your belly starts to grow? Here’s the deal: You should consider office ergonomics during pregnancy so you avoid aches and pains caused by working while pregnant.

What’s the real story? When you’re in the final months of pregnancy, you may need to start reaching an additional 12 inches or more to access your keyboard or desk, putting strain on your arms, shoulders, and back.

What’s more, sitting at a desk for upwards of eight hours a day can cause poor circulation, stiffness, and back pain, even when you’re not pregnant. Imagine the added load on desk ergonomics caused by pregnancy!

Practicing good ergonomics during pregnancy provides much-needed support and comfort.

I can’t emphasize this enough—we see this every week in our practice: Repeated bad posture, i.e. daily slouching over, crossing one leg, or jutting your chin, can cause a twist in the pelvis that can lead to difficulties pushing the baby out during delivery. Practicing good ergonomics during pregnancy provides much-needed support and comfort, so it’s important to consider good office ergonomics designed for pregnancy, including chiropractic techniques to offset any problems.

That’s not all: the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission advises that you have a legal right to work adjustments, including ergonomics, when you’re pregnant. Options to consider: a standing desk, a kneeling desk, or an under desk footrest when you’re pregnant. Your employer must comply, so be sure to discuss it with your human resources department. Don’t suffer in silence!

The bottom line: We can help by offering a pregnancy workplace ergonomic assessment.

pregnancy ergonomic assessment

Office Ergonomics Pregnancy Risk Assessment

Here’s how to ensure that you use proper ergonomics during pregnancy:

  • Make sure your elbows are level with the keyboard, relaxing your shoulders off your ears and keeping your feet flat on the floor so you feel grounded and steady to hold up the newly growing belly. This is important whether you are pregnant or not!
  • Pregnancy can increase your risk for swelling in your hands and feet and blood clots, so it’s important to get up from your office chair and walk and stretch every 30 minutes. You may wish to add a footrest to get extra support and reduce swelling.
  • Make sure your office chair is suitable for pregnancy. It should support your lower back and cushion your tailbone, which has added stress from the real estate the baby is taking up. If your chair doesn’t support your lower back well, you can add a lumbar pillow.
  • Pregnant women are prone to developing carpal tunnel syndrome, so it’s essential to keep your wrists in a neutral position. Do not rest them on the keyboard.
  • Avoid unnecessary reaching by keeping things you use frequently close to you. A good example of this is to keep your elbows down towards your sides, with your phone and mouse in reach while still maintaining your arms close to your sides.
  • As your belly grows, your spine curves more, especially in the low back to accommodate the growing baby. Be sure to adjust your computer monitor and your chair accordingly. Your computer monitor may need to move down a bit, but make sure your eyes hit the top third of your screen. The lumbar support in the back of your chair may need to be pumped to a higher setting to support the extra sway back that happens from pregnancy.

Chiropractic Supports Ergonomics During Pregnancy

At Urban Wellness Clinic, we offer a variety of chiropractic techniques to complement good ergonomics and mitigate bad ergonomics.

As I said, bad posture can cause the pelvis to twist, which can lead to problems during pregnancy and delivery. We use Webster Technique for pelvic alignment and good lower back health. It’s a combination of a chiropractic assessment and a series of adjustments to the pelvis to reduce stress on the round ligaments that support the uterus. It’s a simple but effective technique to release tension, which can be caused by sitting all day at work and inadequate ergonomics. As a result, it reduces lower back pain and back labor.

bad posture pregnancy

We also use Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS), a rehabilitation approach developed by the Prague School of Manual Medicine & Rehabilitation, which helps our bodies move the way they were meant to move. How? It’s about how our brains help our bodies learn movement on a primal level like when we are babies. When we’re developing, we learn to breathe in a way that stabilizes the core and the spine—but then we forget it as we get older due to stress, shallow chest breathing, old injuries, and poor posture.

Stabilizing the core and spine are essential during pregnancy, so we use DNS to make sure the pelvis stays “stacked” under the ribs, especially as our bodies begin to sway back during pregnancy. Think of DNS as ergonomics for pregnancy: it encourages good belly breathing, which keeps the ribs where they need to be. This in turn balances intra-abdominal pressure, which is our deep internal strength when we need to lift something like a child, groceries, or heavy purse.

We also use prenatal massage and Active Release Technique® (ART) to release tight muscles and foot dialing to activate the glutes when you spend a lot of time sitting. Our therapists use ART to release muscle tension or pain and restore blood flow, which is essential during pregnancy when you are at higher risk of developing blood clots. ART involves a system of specific movements to stretch the muscles, coupled with massage, to eliminate pain and improve mobility.

massage during pregnancy

Pregnant women are often told to put their feet up, but it would help to do some foot dialing, too. What is foot dialing you ask? It’s a great way to get the glutes, i.e. the muscles in your butt, turned on and working and helps reduce the sway out of your low back. People who lift do this to help them find tension to pull heavy weight off the floor but it’s also a great bodyweight exercise to turn on all the right areas after a long day of sitting.

Stand tall with the inner edge of your feet in line with your hip crease, right where your bikini line lands. Turn your feet out to 11 and 1 o’clock, not any wider and not with your feet parallel. Squeeze your heels towards one another without moving your feet, as if you were screwing your feet into the floor. Breathe down into your belly and hold the heel squeeze for a couple breaths, then release. Feel a length and decompression through your low back as your pelvis aligns more underneath your ribs with each squeeze. Do a couple rounds of squeezes while standing during a conference call or during each of those breaks you take every 30 minutes to get your body moving.

prenatal yoga

Urban Wellness Clinic Can Improve Pregnancy Ergonomics

How can you actually use this? We can assess ergonomics in your office and its effects on your body during pregnancy. We can perform chiropractic techniques to ease pain and help prepare your body for a smoother delivery. We also offer ergonomic evaluations for new mothers. If you are concerned about ergonomics during pregnancy, contact us today. Call us at 212-355-0445 or email us at We’re here for you!

Best in health,

Dr. Emily Kiberd