This is the third part of the Pregnancy In The Workforce series. Here’s the catch: it’s only for the office. If you are interested in more manual labour ergonomic tips I wrote a full post about recommended lifting categories that you can access here. This 3-part series just focusses on the practical changes exclusive to the office. If you are just joining the series now I’ll give you a quick Coles’ notes version of Parts 1 & 2. In Part 1 I share insights about ergonomics in the office and some specific tips about adjusting your chair throughout your pregnancy. In Part 2 I go into detail on how to improve the rest of your set-up to make it fit you ergonomically… there are some specific tricks of the trade that I share as well. I really wanted to make these posts useful with changes that you can put into place immediately.
This series will be useful to you if:
This is the last part of the series, where I share insights about how to set-up your standing workstation. When I was pregnant (both times) I really relied on two pro-tips to relieve pressure on my abdomen. The first being to recline the backrest of my chair (a must for any pregnant lady!) and the second was to stand more while working. I even did this during my twin pregnancy! The key thing with incorporating more standing into your day that you don’t want to do too much standing. Just like anything else in life moderation is key and this is especially for standing during pregnancy. If you are at all concerned that incorporating even a little bit of standing into your workday is unsafe then you definitely want to check with your doctor or midwife.
So… let’s jump into pregnancy specific tips about standing desks. But, here’s a quick note: this part isn’t going to be a specific as Parts 1 & 2 as the majority of the ergonomic tips will be applicable to the standing desk set-up- the only difference is that you would now be standing instead of sitting!
It’s always good to start with the good, right? Right! The good thing is that a standing desk is a little more straight forward to adjust compared to a sitting desk.
When I was pregnant I found that I absolutely needed to stand more often throughout my work day just to stay comfortable. Luckily I had a standing desk so this transition was very simple.
If you don’t have a height adjustable desk but you NEED to stand, I have a Standing Desk Challenge that may interest you. This is a challenge that gives you the information on how to incorporate a safe amount of standing into your workday without the necessity of owning expensive sit-stand desks. I do recommend that you check with your doctor or midwife before you start to make sure that it is safe for your particular pregnancy health circumstances. If you are interested you can get all the details and sign up here.
Before you start with incorporating more standing into your day I want to inform you of the specific risks related to long-term standing and pregnancy. There seems to be some variations on the amount of time to be considered to be risky to stand for a pregnant woman. For instance some research has found that standing for more than 3 hours per day would be considered physically strenuous whereas other research has a much higher time limit – prolonged standing for more than 6 hours per day. So, what is the best move forward if you want some general guidelines? The first thing you want to do is get your doctor or midwife’s seal of approval and then you want to start incorporate standing periods gradually. Carefully and slowly add more amounts of standing into your day so you can see how your body reacts. For instance you might want to try standing for 1 hour TOTAL in your day (this amount of standing would be broken into four 15 minute periods – two in the morning and two in the afternoon), every day for one full week (or even two) to gauge how your body will react. Depending on how your body feels you might choose to keep the standing time the same, increase it, or reduce it. The main point is to do what works with your specific health concerns. I’ll be sharing some insights about safe standing schedules later in this post.
The good thing with using a standing desk, the set-up is much simpler compared to sitting. Here are the two main areas (like the graphic above shows) that you will need to focus on to keep things comfortable and avoid ergonomic risks:
PRO-TIP: The height of the standing workstation is based on what you are trying to accomplish, specifically if you are working on the computer versus writing/drawing. This is an aspect of standing desks that is easily overlooked yet so simple to incorporate. Here are the goods:
What about break times?
You will frequently need to change your posture when you are pregnant even if you don’t use a standing desk in order to stay comfortable. Simple ways to incorporate more standing and movement into your day that don’t require a standing desk are easy to get started. For example – getting up and walking to see a colleague instead of emailing them can go a long way in preventing discomfort. Below you’ll find 4 guidelines that can help you when you are finding your standing time schedules. Make sure to try these gradually under safe standing ‘trials’ and always get your treating practitioner’s ‘seal of approval’ before you start!
Thanks so much for staying with me for this series. This is something that I am very passionate about as I find that there is just so little useful information out there that advises a comfortable ergonomic work set-up for pregnant women. I’d like to hear some of your feedback!! What were (are) some of the biggest struggles or concerns that you had (have) about being pregnant in the office? What did you do to resolve them? Or what did you wish that you did? Leave a comment below to share your insights with the rest of the ergonomicsHelp readers!