General advice directed at maximizing postural comfort at work during pregnancy

The following general advice is directed at maximizing your postural comfort at work during pregnancy. Any specific health issues regarding your pregnancy should be discussed with your treating doctor/health practitioner.

Common symptoms

  • Back pain is common during pregnancy. The lower spine is pulled forward by the increasing weight of the baby exaggerating the lumbar curve. This can impose strain on both the back muscles and the abdominal muscles. Tailbone (coccyx) pain is often experienced
  • As the girth expands the centre of gravity moves forward leading to adjustments in posture to maintain balance
  • Ligaments and tendons become more relaxed due to high relaxing levels, which accommodates for the growing baby and can lead to joint pain
  • Increased blood volume increases the pressure in the leg veins which may make prolonged standing difficult and uncomfortable, as well as result in some swelling
  • Swelling in the arms may also be present and can cause pressure on nerves and blood vessels resulting in reduced sensation in the hand (Carpal tunnel syndrome)

Tips for improving comfort when sitting

  • Sit right back into your chair with your back slightly reclined. Ensure the backrest is adjusted so it neatly fits the curve of your lower back
  • Ensure your hips are slightly above your knees
  • Ensure your feet are supported – either on a footrest or the floor
  • Keep your feet apart to make room for your belly and distribute the weight evenly
  • Avoid sitting for more than 30minutes. Get up and stretch your legs for at least 3 minutes
  • Special cushions/inserts may relieve back pain*
  • Use the swivel and castors to assist with movement
  • Organise desktop items within close reach
  • Keep the wrists as flat and aligned as possible
  • A footstool with a free floating platform can improve circulation and reduce ankle swelling*

*Some of these items are available for loan by emailing the Health & Safety Services team.

Tips for improving comfort when standing

  • Avoid prolonged standing in the same position. Locate a chair wherever possible
  • It is common to compensate for the natural forward shift in centre of gravity by leaning backwards, however this can result in back strain and discomfort
  • Aim to keep your earlobes in line with the middle of your shoulders and your hips
  • Keep your knees straight but not locked
  • If you notice a large curve in your lower back try wearing low heeled shoes as opposed to flat shoes
  • If prolonged standing is unavoidable, an anti-fatigue mat and a small flat footrest to alternate putting feet up one at a time may provide postural relief*
  • Avoid any heavy or forceful manual handling activities

*Some of these items are available for loan by emailing the Health & Safety Services team.

Need more assistance? What can you do?

If you experience on-going discomfort or pain, please seek the advice of your treating practitioner. Your practitioner will be able to provide specialist advice and may be able to suggest stretching exercises or other solutions that will help to relieve your symptoms.

You should review your computer workstation self-assessment checklist to identify any specific issues with your working arrangements. Implement control measures in conjunction with your supervisor.

Speak to your supervisor about changing your work practices and tasks and perhaps reducing or altering the physical demands of your workload.

How can we help?

The University Ergonomist and Workstation Assessment Consultant can assist by providing an assessment of your workstation and providing advice on optimising your posture and comfort.

To request this service, ensure that you have first completed your computer workstation self-assessment checklist and spoken to your local Health and Safety Business Partner. If necessary, your Business Partner will contact the Health & Safety Services team to request an appointment to further assess your workstation.