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Why shouldn’t you twist when pregnant?

Twisting while pregnant can lead to unnecessary strain and discomfort. Here’s what you need to know about twisting during pregnancy and how to avoid it.

What happens when you twist during pregnancy?

Twisting causes your abdominal and back muscles to contract as they work against each other. This places strain on your spine and pelvis. The extra weight and shifting center of gravity caused by your growing baby bump makes this strain even worse.

Twisting can pinch nerves and pull muscles in ways they aren’t used to moving. This leads to soreness and pain. The more pregnant you are, the more discomfort twisting tends to cause.

In addition, your ligaments become looser and more flexible during pregnancy. This makes them more prone to over-stretching or strain. Quickly twisting your body can risk overextending these loose pregnancy ligaments.

Twisting while pregnant can also wrap the umbilical cord around your baby or pinch it between your baby and your pelvis. This constricts blood flow and oxygen to your baby.

Common times pregnant women twist

Pregnant women tend to twist unconsciously during certain daily activities. Becoming aware of when you’re twisting can help you modify movements to stay comfortable and avoid injury.

Common times pregnant women twist include:

  • Getting in and out of bed
  • Getting up from sitting
  • Reaching across your body
  • Looking behind you while driving
  • Lifting objects
  • Putting on shoes and socks
  • Doing household chores like cleaning

Risks of twisting while pregnant

Twisting too far or too often during pregnancy poses several risks:

  • Muscle strains and sprains – Twisting can overextend back and abdominal muscles. This leads to painful strains and sprains.
  • Sciatica – Irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back through your hips and butt. Sciatica causes sharp, shooting nerve pain.
  • Round ligament pain – The round ligaments support your uterus. Twisting can overstretch these ligaments, causing a brief, stabbing sensation.
  • Separation of the abdominal muscles – Twistingexcessively during pregnancy can cause the rectus abdominis muscles on either side of your belly to separate down the middle. This is called diastasis recti.
  • Reduced blood flow to the baby – Wrapping the umbilical cord around your baby when twisting reduces blood and oxygen flow. This stresses your baby.
  • Preterm labor and delivery – In rare cases, twisting can trigger Braxton Hicks contractions or actual preterm labor. Always call your doctor if you have more than 4 contractions per hour before 37 weeks.

How to avoid twisting during pregnancy

You don’t have to avoid twisting entirely while pregnant. But minimizing twisting protects your muscles and ligaments. Here are some tips:

  • When getting in and out of bed, sit up first, swing your legs off the bed, then stand up. Turn your whole body instead of twisting at your core.
  • Face the way you are going as much as possible rather than twisting. Pivot your feet instead of your torso.
  • Sit down to get dressed and put on shoes.
  • Hold items close to your body instead of extended away.
  • Keep frequently used items within easy reach.
  • Sit down and then stand up in stages. Avoid quick, jerky movements.
  • Hold your belly when sneezing or coughing to support abdominal muscles.
  • Sleep on your left side with a pillow between your knees to maintain spinal alignment.
  • Move your whole body as one unit and tighten your core muscles when lifting.

Exercises to avoid twisting

Some prenatal fitness classes and exercises involve a lot of twisting, which isn’t ideal during pregnancy. Alternatives to avoid include:

Exercise Twisting Alternative
Traditional sit-ups Pelvic tilts, knee lifts, planks
Full sit-and-reach stretches Knee-to-chest stretches, cat-cow stretch on hands and knees
Repeated wide-legged forward folds Gentle swaying, foot elevations
Twisting yoga poses (ex: revolved triangle pose) Standing forward bends, warrior poses
Russian twists Seated toe taps
Full twisting spinal rotations Partial spinal rotations keeping shoulders aligned with pelvis

Let your prenatal fitness instructor know you want to avoid twisting. Ask them for non-twisting modifications for any tricky poses. Walking, swimming, and Kegels are other great low-impact exercise options during pregnancy.

When to see a doctor

Occasional minor twisting is generally fine during pregnancy. But contact your doctor or midwife right away if:

  • You feel persistent round ligament or abdominal pain after twisting
  • You have symptoms of sciatica like numbness, tingling, or shooting pains down your leg
  • You experience significant muscle pain or weakness
  • You have 4 or more contractions per hour before 37 weeks
  • You have any bleeding from your vagina
  • You have leaking fluid that might be amniotic fluid
  • Your baby is moving less than normal

You should also talk to your doctor about precautions to take if you have a high-risk pregnancy, chronic pain, balance problems, or other health conditions.


Twisting puts strain on your back, abdominals, ligaments, and other muscle groups during pregnancy. This can lead to pain, injury, reduced blood flow to your baby, and even preterm contractions. Pay attention to movements that cause twisting and modify your daily habits. Consider your exercise routine as well and opt for non-twisting prenatal fitness options. With some adjustments, you can stay active and comfortable while avoiding excessive twisting during your pregnancy.