As an ergonomist, I’m often asked how to adjust workstations to fit all body types, from short and tall statures to the obese, but rarely am I asked about making adjustments for the pregnant female. Below are four tips on how to set up your workstation to address some of the most common pregnancy-related woes.
Float your wrists above your keyboard when typing. Many pregnant women experience some form of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially during their third trimester. Usually a result of irritation on the median nerve caused by fine finger movements, carpal tunnel syndrome can also be caused by swelling from water retention. Keeping your wrists in a neutral posture, not resting on your keyboard, and keeping your hands, wrists, and forearms in a straight line when working, will reduce the incidence.
Stand up and walk every 30 minutes. Incorporating more activity throughout the day will keep blood circulating and will help to reduce some common pregnancy issues, including sciatica, varicose veins, blood clots, and swollen ankles. To increase movement, talk face-to-face with a coworker instead of using email, get a drink of water, or walk to the printer to retrieve a document.
Use a footrest, or a large box, to prop up your feet when in a seated position. Elevating your feet will reduce swelling in the feet and ankles.
Keep commonly-used objects within closeproximity. A growing belly makes reaching for objects more and more difficult. The keyboard, mouse, and even your phone, should be kept near the edge of your work surface. Moving objects closer to you, even an inch, will improve back and shoulder comfort.
Following these four tips will reduce your chance of injury, and will keep you as comfortable as possible during the last few months of pregnancy.