If you are an expecting mother, you would know that standing for long hours during pregnancy becomes difficult with the increase in the baby’s size. Therefore, you are often suggested walking or changing positions at regular intervals. However, if your occupation requires you to stand for a long time, you should take small steps regularly because prolonged standing can give you back pain and adversely affect your baby’s growth. You should also take some important safety measures to lower the impact of standing so you do not have to deal with its side effects. Keep reading to know more about the safety of standing for a long duration during pregnancy, how it affects your health, and what you can do to overcome it.
Is It Safe To Stand Too Long During Pregnancy?
Your doctor may advise you against standing for a long time if you are having any complications.
Standing for a long duration, especially in late pregnancy, may cause back pain and discomfort in legs. It may also reduce the flow of blood to the fetus, therefore, affecting that baby’s growth reducing the availability of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus (1).
Research studies show that standing for long hours affects the growth of the baby. One study has found that women standing for more than 25 hours per week could give birth to babies who weigh 148-198g less than the babies born to women who do not stand for that long. Babies born to mothers who stand for too long might also have a head circumference a centimeter shorter (2) (3), which may affects the baby neuro-development.
We’ll tell you about some more effects in the later sections.
How Long Should You Stand When Pregnant?
You may stand as long as you feel comfortable and until there is no pain or discomfort in your back or legs. If your job demands you to stand for a long time, then it is good to move your legs often and take a walk or keep one foot on a small step stool to feel better (1).
How Does Standing For Long Hours Affect You And Your Unborn Baby?
Standing for long hours may sometimes aggravate pregnancy symptoms or affect you and your baby in the following ways.
- Edema: Edema or swelling of feet is common during pregnancy. Also, the extra water in the body tends to accumulate in the lower extremities when you stand for a long time and may worsen the condition. (4).
- Pain in the pubic area: Some women may have symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) that causes severe pelvic pain. Standing for prolonged hours, especially on one leg, may worsen the pubic pain (5) (6).
- Change in blood pressure: It may cause a drop in blood pressure (7) or a rise in it (8). If you have low blood pressure, you may feel giddy.
- Lower back pain: Standing too long may cause lower back pain during pregnancy. The pain may also radiate to your leg or foot (9).
- Risk of preterm birth: Spending most of your time standing may increase your risk of miscarriages or having preterm labor and premature birth (fetal medical complications) (10).
Most of these effects are for women who have the occupational requirement of continuous standing for long periods.
How To Overcome The Effects Of Standing When Pregnant?
Standing might not be a concern as long as you walk around comfortably. But, if your work or lifestyle requires you to stand for prolonged periods, you may have to take the following measures.
- Wear footwear that has the right arch and heel support for a comfortable standing position.
- Wear compression stockings as they promote blood circulation and prevent swollen feet and clots formation.
- As you get into your late second and third trimester, consider wearing a maternity belt. Wrapping it over and under your belly will provide support and relieve lower back pain.
- Take frequent short walks. It could help with blood circulation. It also eases constipation and supports delivery.
- Consume sufficient water and healthy juices to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. Avoid caffeinated drinks as they can cause dehydration.
- Talk to your manager about your pregnancy issues and see if you can switch to a work that does not involve long standing hours. If that is not possible, ask for more breaks and use a footrest or low stool to prop one foot for support.
- Manage your stress levels by doing some breathing exercises and meditation.
- Sleeping on the left side which increase blood circulation helping the swelling.
Also, you need to talk to your doctor about your occupational requirements and get clearance from them.
Do Not Hesitate To Take Rest
Whether it is your workplace or home, do not hesitate to sit and relax in between your work. Let the others know that you are pregnant and need to take breaks. There is nothing embarrassing about it because you are doing one of the best jobs in this world – giving birth to a new life.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can standing too long cause a miscarriage?
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, standing for long periods could increase your chance of miscarriage (11). However, there is only an increase in risk, and there is no direct link between standing for a long time and miscarriage (12)
2. Is standing for eight hours bad while pregnant?
Long hours of work may hamper the growth of a developing fetus. A study noted that working and standing more than 25 hours a week may have adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes (2). So, it is certainly not healthy to stand for too many hours.
3. Can standing for long periods of time cause early labor?
Standing for long periods may increase your risk of early labor. The chance is even higher if you are already at risk of preterm labor for other reasons, including age, previous history of preterm labor, smoking, alcohol consumption, multiple pregnancies, and infections (13).
In pregnancy, you should take optimum care to minimize the risk of pregnancy pains and other complications. Long hours of standing during pregnancy can impact your health by inducing back pain, swelling of feet, or increasing the risk for preterm delivery. So, try to avoid it by taking breaks from continuous standing and wearing supportive gear such as maternity belts. Do not overwork yourself and continue to stand only till your body feels comfortable. Consult your ob/gyn to understand in case of extreme pain caused due to standing for long hours during pregnancy.
2. Claudia A Snijder et al.; Physically demanding work, fetal growth and the risk of adverse birth outcomes. The Generation R Study; BMJ Journals
3. Hatch M et al.; Do standing, lifting, climbing, or long hours of work during pregnancy have an effect on fetal growth; Epidemiology (1997)
4. Swollen ankles, feet and fingers in pregnancy; NHS (2018)
5. Smita Jain et al.; Review Symphysis pubis dysfunction: a practical approach to management; Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (2006)
6. Emily R. Howell; Pregnancy-related symphysis pubis dysfunction management and postpartum rehabilitation: two case reports; The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association (2012)
7. After standing, a fall in blood pressure; Harvard Health Publishing (2018)
8. Saurel-Cubizolles MJ ET AL.; High blood pressure during pregnancy and working conditions among hospital personnel; Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol (1991)
9. Back pain during pregnancy; Cedars-Sinai
10. Magann EF et al.; The effects of standing, lifting and noise exposure on preterm birth, growth restriction, and perinatal death in healthy low-risk working military women; J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med (2005)
11. Reproductive Health And The Workplace; CDC (2019)
12. Causes-Miscarriage; NHS (2018)
13. What are the risk factors for preterm labor and birth; NIH (2017)