Can You Sit Too Long While Pregnant?

Pregnancy changes your body in many ways, and some are obvious but others are more subtle. On average, early pregnancy symptoms can begin right around the time of a missed period.

The problem is that they can mirror typical PMS symptoms so it can be difficult to tell whether it's pregnancy or an impending period. Signs include breast tenderness, spotting, fatigue, nausea, and cramping (via WebMD). The only way to confirm a pregnancy is to take a pregnancy test. Anything else is just speculation.

Once you know you're officially pregnant, you'll start to get all sorts of advice. Some pregnancy advice you should listen to and some you shouldn't, but the way to know what's right is to consult your doctor or midwife. While there are certain things you should do and not do when pregnant, some daily actions seem so basic and normal, that they might not even be on your radar. Take sitting for example.

Sitting when your blood volume doubles

While many early pregnancy changes are easily identifiable, there are so many things going on inside your body that you may not necessarily think about, both in early and late pregnancy. For starters, your blood volume can increase by up to 50% (via HuffPost). During early pregnancy, your blood and plasma begin to swiftly increase. The extra blood is pumped throughout your body to help grow the placenta which nourishes the baby and fosters proper development.

The increase in blood supply also helps prepare your body for labor. Abigail Cutler, M.D., a spokesperson for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains, "Extra blood helps to protect you from some delivery risks, such as hemorrhage" (via Parents).

With so much additional blood, sitting down for too long can increase the risk of getting blood clots (via Live Science). It can also cause fluids to accumulate in your ankles and legs in late pregnancy which can cause swelling. However, standing too much can affect the blood flow the baby receives and also cause ankle swelling.

Ob-gyn Dr. Jill Rabin, says "That's why you have to mix it up." She suggests a combination of sitting, standing, and walking several times a day.

Diabetes and sitting during pregnancy

According to a study that tracked over 1000 pregnant women and their physical activity, sitting too much during pregnancy can lead to acquiring gestational diabetes, a form of high blood sugar that appears during pregnancy.

Dr. Nithya Sukumar, the lead study author explains "Pregnant women could benefit from early intervention to improve their physical and mental health and reduce the risks associated with sedentary behavior" (via Nursing Times). That means stay active but also find some time to rest. Sukumar continues, "Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of birth complications for the mother and baby and so it is important we minimize this risk by reducing the time that pregnant women spend sitting down."

As with so many things in life, during pregnancy balance is key, so aim to stand, sit, and walk a little every day. Find time to put your feet up and rest in later pregnancy to reduce swelling and help you relax.