Can I use 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.
Every pregnancy is different.
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 main reasons to climb stairs during pregnancy.
Generally, there are two reasons we might have to use stairs.
One is to get from A to B, and it may or may not be a necessity to have to use stairs.
The other reason people might want to use stairs is for fitness & extra exercise.
Firstly, is it safe to use stairs during pregnancy?
So 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 check with your healthcare team if you’re not sure of your situation.
Provided you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, it is safe to climb stairs during pregnancy.
The main things to be aware of are aches and pains, and safety, 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.
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 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 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. 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.
However, there are a few extra things to be mindful of during pregnancy.
First and foremost, is pelvic girdle or back pain.
If you are achey, have back pain or pelvic pain, stairs might not be your best friend. Stairs might flare up the pain, and make the pain worse.
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.
Precautions to take when climbing stairs
If stairs are unavoidable, a few strategies might help. Remembering, safety always comes first, and if in doubt, avoid stairs altogether.
– Try to reduce quantity of stair climbs (or avoid).
– Use a step to pattern (instead of step through pattern). I.e Step by step
– Using a rail at all times.
– Investigate a pelvic belt to help reduce the pain (I recommend seeking assessment/treatment by your local women’s health physio here).
– If there are no other option – bum shuffle up. Obviously this is if you’re at home!
– If you’ve had to use the stairs, and you’re achey afterwards, then try to rest / 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.
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.