It’s safe to say that using a standing desk while pregnant is recommended. However, alternating sitting and standing while pregnant is a must. Using a standing desk while pregnant is still a taboo topic. While there are studies to show the effects and possible drawbacks of standing during pregnancy, not much attention is given to standing desks and how expecting mums can use them properly.
The first thing mums should know is that they have rights, according to the state or country they live in. But in many cases, even employers don’t know what to advise a mum-to-be. Let’s have a quick look at how the child develops in the belly before better understanding standing during pregnancy.
From week 0 to week 8, the pregnancy is characterized by the fertilized egg moving towards the womb. During this period, most women work. From week 9 to week 12, women can start feeling tired. Having feelings of sickness is also an issue during this period. It would be wise to use a chair when feeling sick.
From week 13 to week 16, many of these sickness feelings can even go away. During this period, expecting mums can stand longer. With a baby around 85mm, this period is where pregnant women start to feel better and standing may come naturally as a result.
From week 17 to week 20, the baby is already getting bigger. Its body should be growing. From week 21 to week 24, the organs of the baby are starting to form. This is the point when it has a chance of survival in case of early birth.
From week 25 to week 28, the baby is already having a personal schedule. It may as well be a different schedule of the mum-to-be. It is during this time that many women realize that their babies don’t like when they are sitting in a hunched over position. Standing up at times is great, at least from time to time as the baby will start to show unhappiness in certain positions.
From week 29 to week 32, the baby is usually ready for birth. Its body position is downwards as a result. From week 33 to week 36, the bones of the baby will harden and discomfort may increase in certain positions, even while standing.
From week 37 to week 40, the baby is ready to be born and the amniotic fluid turns into meconium. Its unlikely women will feel comfortable standing or sitting for too long and most will not work either way.
Is a stand-up desk good for the baby during pregnancy? The raw data and what studies show
There are various studies which look specifically at the sit-stand variation during pregnancy. It’s clear that sitting for long periods as well as standing for long periods while pregnant is not the best route.
Study #1 – standing and sitting dynamics during pregnancy
A 2001 study at the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan shows that it’s not the pregnancy itself which determines the right choice between standing and sitting but the extra weight which is characteristic to the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. This is why using a standing desk while pregnant will come with its challenges in the third trimester.
Due to the extra weight women have to carry, there’s higher weight being placed on the knee joint. Hip mobility is reduced at the same time. However, this only means women will have a harder time getting up in the first place than staying up and using or working at a standing desk.
Study #2 – sitting is bad, very bad
At the same time, a new 2017 study by C. Fazzi et al. shows that sitting and generally having a sedentary lifestyle while pregnant is bad both for the baby and for the mum. With an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, expecting mums should do their best to limit sitting periods for hours at a time.
Judging by these 2 studies, it’s safe to say that using a standing desk while pregnant is recommended. However, all standing desk manufacturers actually recommend alternating sit/stand work as much as possible and this is very applicable to pregnant women.
The do’s and don’ts of using a standing desk while pregnant
So we’ve seen how the baby develops and how the need for space increases as a result. We’ve also had a look at what studies show about sitting and standing. Of course, it’s not easy for the mum to say goodbye to the chair and get up a few times per day, but it might be necessary.
Avoid excess weight gain, diabetes and all that comes with it
Weight gain is one of the considerable problems of pregnancy. All women gain weight during the 40-week period. However, some gain weight which is in surplus or which can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle more than by the pregnancy itself. As a result, expecting mums should avoid sitting as it can be one of the diabetes triggers even in the babies.
Be proactive about back pain
Back pain is such a common issue with working expecting mums. However, having a large belly does have its perks. For example, it forces pregnant women to stay further away from the desk. This maintains them in an upright position which immediately improves posture and relieves back pain. It also helps them see the monitor better.
Standing for 10 minutes every hour should be achievable while pregnant. Even in a standing position, the belly will not allow a hunched over position, which reduces the pressure on the lower back.
Increase energy levels by standing
Energy levels drop considerably during pregnancy. However, not all soon-to-be-mums will have to say goodbye to energy levels. It has been shown in numerous studies that standing improves energy levels. Going home exhausted after 8 hours should be a fading feeling as a result.
Don’t overlook pubic pain while sitting
Pelvic pain and pubis pain has a higher occurrence during pregnancy. Internal rotation of the hip joints is recommended by a Dutch study. Keeping the joints moving is crucial to reduce this pain.
As an important note, expecting mums should know that even if they had an active lifestyle before pregnancy, this doesn’t absolve them from possible pelvic pain. Furthermore, pelvic pain during a previous pregnancy does not automatically mean it will reoccur. It is safe to say that pelvic pain is something often found with pregnancies.
A few recommended exercises and stretches for the internal rotation of the hip joints can be found here. They can be done at the desk, be it a standing desk or at home while lying on the floor. But a full list of exercises to reduce hip pain while pregnant can also include the following moves and stretches.
- Standing sideways leg raises – perfect at the standing desk, it requires raising one foot at a time, while grabbing the desk.
- Standing pelvic tilt – the role of the exercise is to arch the back, while against the wall. Arching away from the wall is done while inhaling and flattening the lower back against the wall or eliminating the arch is done while inhaling.
- Forward fold – this exercise is great for low back pain reduction and it can be performed at a standing desk. Starting from a standing position, women need to lean forward with a straight back and straight legs. They lean until they feel a stretch in the hamstrings. The hands can also be resting on the standing desk, but they should not support the load of the body.
Is it safe to use a standing desk after pregnancy?
Muscular endurance can be reduced after birth. This is why similar exercises might be recommended even after pregnancy. A 2017 study shows that exercises and stretches reduce muscle imbalanced after pregnancy and they also reduce pain associated with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction.
It can be said that the benefits of using a standing desk while pregnant outweigh the drawbacks. The benefits involve better energy levels, reduced back pain, pelvic pain, risk of type 2 diabetes, and weight gain. The drawbacks are only seen when standing for too long.
This is where the development of the baby may be impeded. But alternative sitting with standing seems the right way to go. Even standing for 10 minutes every hour comes with its benefits in mobility and burning extra calories.
Using a standing mat can help during this time. It reduces pressure on the legs. Comfortable shoes are a must as well. Even small heels can increase lower back pain while using a standing desk when pregnant. But it’s different for all mums.
What is your experience? Have you used a standing desk while pregnant? Was it worth it? Let us know in the comment section below or check out our Varidesk Pro Plus 36 Review.