Podcast Episode #109

Climbing stairs in pregnancy

Using stairs in pregnancy

Can I climb stairs in pregnancy?

This was a question sent to me via DM on Instagram @fitnestmama, and I thought that it might be a good question to do a podcast topic on.

Pregnancy can be an exciting time, but it might also feel like a time when you are googling everything.  And, the question around the safety of climbing stairs during pregnancy is relatively common.  

So if you’re pregnant, perhaps you have lots of stairs at home.  Or perhaps you have been finding it difficult to climb stairs.  Or perhaps you are just curious about the answer, then this is for you.

Everyone is different

Everyone’s body feels different during pregnancy

Everyone is in different situations.

You might have aches and pains whilst pregnant.

You might live in a 4 story townhouse with lots of stairs, and your bedroom is on the very top floor.

Two common reasons to climb stairs during pregnancy.

Generally, there are two obvious reasons we might have to climb stairs.

One reason to use stairs is to get from A to B. Sometimes it is simply a necessary thing we need to do. For example, there are stairs in your house, or you are out and there are no lifts/elevators available.

The other common reason people might want to use stairs is for fitness & extra exercise.  

So, the big question. If we have a choice, and there is an alternative option to climbing stairs available, and we don’t need to use stairs, should we whilst pregnant? Let’s discuss!

Firstly, is it safe to climb stairs during pregnancy?

To answer this question, first and foremost, we are assuming here that you have medical clearance to walk and exercise. We are assuming that you have an uncomplicated pregnancy with no precautions, so always be sure to check with your healthcare team if you’re not sure of your particular situation or you have any doubts about the safety of stairs.

Provided you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, it is safe to climb stairs during pregnancy.

There are two main things to be aware of, which we will discuss below.

What are the benefits of using stairs during pregnancy?

We’ve no doubt heard of the benefits of using stairs.

We all know that stairs can be a great form of exercise, and we all know the benefits of exercising during pregnancy.

We may have heard about the benefits of incidental exercise too (incidental exercise are the the little bits of movement we do during our day to day life). So someone who is at the computer desk all day, for example, has very little incidental exercise compared to someone who is naturally moving around all day, for example a parent looking after a toddler, a school teacher… that sort of thing.

So, on the whole, generally, stairs are safe to use whilst pregnant. The same as with a person who isn’t pregnant, there are lots of potential benefits from moving our body more, and in this case, taking the stairs whilst pregnant.

Reasons to be cautious whilst using stairs during pregnancy.

There are a few extra things to be mindful of during pregnancy.

First and foremost, is the very common pelvic girdle or back pain which can often occur during pregnancy.

If you are achey, have back pain or pelvic pain, stairs unfortunately might not be your best friend.  Stairs might flare up the pain, and make the pain worse, due to a combination of hormonal, mechanical and postural changes that occur with pregnancy.

Perhaps you might be better off avoiding the stairs (if you can) and taking the lift, and doing a more pelvic pain friendly form of exercise instead.

Some options for pelvic girdle pain friendly workouts are found inside our Pregnancy Exercise Program, FitNest Mama

Precautions to take when climbing stairs

If you’re feeling a bit unsure about stairs, perhaps you are achey and sore, or perhaps you’re feeling your balance is off (hello big belly), here are a few strategies which might help. 

– Try to reduce quantity of stair climbs (or avoid them altogether).
– Use a step-to pattern (instead of step-through pattern).  I.e Step by step
– Use a rail at all times.
– Investigate a pelvic belt to help reduce the pain (I also recommend seeking assessment/treatment by your local women’s health physio here).
– If there are no other options – bum shuffle up. Obviously not the most elegant, but hey, if it helps to reduce pain then bring it on!
– If you’ve had to use the stairs, and you’re achey afterwards, then try to rest and use ice afterwards.
– See this podcast episode for more tips on pelvic girdle pain.

Remembering, on the whole, most women will be absolutely fine to go up/down stairs, but if you’re feeling achey, don’t feel you have to push through it, and always consider safety first. Remembering, safety always comes first, and if in doubt, avoid stairs altogether.

Key points:

If you are achey, avoid stairs and exercise in a different way that is pain free (FitNest has you covered here!)

Trial some of the pain management strategies discussed above.

And, of course, seek treatment if you need.

Safety whilst using stairs

Last, but not least, consider safety.

The body’s centre of gravity changes during pregnancy, and everyone’s balance has been affected to different degrees..  Using the rail, and/or changing your stepping pattern on stairs is recommended to help improve safety during pregnancy, and is definitely worth considering.

Episode Links

Preparing for birth Pelvic health checklist
Free 7 Day Trial Pregnancy Workouts
Free 7 Day Trial Postnatal Workouts

FitNest Mama Website

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