What to Know About Falling During Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 18, 2022
5 min read

It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to fall when they’re pregnant. Research indicates that roughly 30% of pregnant women have reported falling at least once when they’re pregnant. This article looks at the risks involved in falling during pregnancy and what precautions you can take to avoid it.

Several physiological changes happen during pregnancy. Your body goes through certain changes to protect your baby when you’re pregnant. The walls of your uterus consist of thick muscles that act as a barrier against any collision. Amniotic fluid surrounds your baby as a buffer.

Your cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary, and musculoskeletal systems also change to varying degrees depending on hormonal activity, which could lead to weight gain, reduced control over muscular movements, and diminished muscle strength.

All these factors bring about a shift in your center of gravity and could cause bodily imbalances, increasing the probability of falls during pregnancy. Another common reason for falls during pregnancy is a hormone called relaxin, which relaxes your joints and ligaments. This may have some effect on your gait and movements.

Relaxin is a hormone released by your ovaries and the placenta. While nonpregnant women also have this hormone, it peaks during pregnancy. It helps your body stretch and loosen and prepares it for childbirth by relaxing the muscles and ligaments in your pelvis, making it easier for you to push the baby out.

Relaxin also leads to increased mobility of the joints in your feet and hips. These loose joints may cause your feet to become unstable, making you vulnerable to falls.

What to do after falling while pregnant? Although falling during pregnancy is common, you should take adequate precautions to avoid it. Falling during pregnancy may cause:

  • Bone fractures in the mother
  • Head injuries to the child
  • Internal bleeding in both the child and mother
  • Change in the baby’s position in the placenta
  • Damage to the uterus and its membranes
  • In rare cases, death of the mother or child

Falls during the early part (the first trimester) of your pregnancy don’t cause major complications in most cases. Falling during the second or early third trimester is considered the riskiest, as it could harm you and your child, especially if you fall directly on your abdomen.

If you fall during the end of your second trimester or early in the third trimester, see your doctor right away if:

  • You get uterine contractions
  • You have vaginal bleeding
  • You feel pain in your abdomen
  • You can’t feel your baby move

Ask your doctor if they need to do any tests to make sure you and your child are safe. Check with your doctor if you can take postural stability tests to detect if you’re at risk of falling due to postural instability.

Exercising regularly during pregnancy improves your balance, reduces stiffness and aches, and lowers the likelihood of falls. Medical experts typically suggest pregnancy balance exercises that focus on strengthening the core muscles, thighs, and hips. These help build a solid body foundation to support a wide range of movements. You can do some of the following exercises during pregnancy to improve balance. Before doing any of them, ask your doctor if they're safe for you and how many times you can do each exercise.

Pelvic tilt. This works the pelvic muscles in your core. To begin, place your palms, knees, and toes on the floor, keeping your back straight and parallel to the ground. In this position, your chest is facing the ground. You can use a yoga mat for cushioning. Pull your stomach muscles in and tuck your buttocks. This will cause your pelvis to tilt up and take your back toward the ceiling. Count up to five in this position and then let go. 

A variation of this is the standing pelvic tilt. Stand with your back against a wall and place your feet shoulder-width apart. Now press the lower part of your back against the wall and hold this position for a few seconds.

Leg lift. This exercise tones the muscles in your back, stomach, and buttocks. Take a similar position as you do for the pelvic tilt with your hands and knees touching the floor. Your palms should be right under your shoulders, and your knees should be shoulder-width apart. Now lift your left knee and bring it towards your left elbow. This is the first part of the exercise, where you bend your knee. 

Now stretch your left leg completely by straightening it at the knees and moving it backward. This is the second part of the exercise. At this point, your left leg is parallel to the ground. Make sure you don’t lift your leg above your hips.

Backward stretch. This exercise stretches your back, thigh, and pelvic muscles. The starting position is the same as in the previous exercises — palms and knees on the floor, with your palms directly under your shoulders. Move backward and bring your buttocks as close to your heels as possible. Now bend your head and bring it toward your knees while your arms are extended, with your palms still touching the ground. Hold this position for a few seconds, then return to the original position.

Upper body rotation. This stretches the muscles in your back and upper torso. To begin, sit on the floor with your legs crossed and hold the big toe on your left foot with your right hand. Now take your left hand behind you, turn your upper body, and extend it to your left side. Hold this position for a few seconds and repeat it with the other side.

Pregnancy is a critical stage in a woman’s life and needs utmost care and attention. Research indicates that pregnant women are 2.3 times more likely to be hospitalized due to a fall than nonpregnant women of similar age. Keep some of the following points in mind to reduce your risk of falls during pregnancy:

  • Avoid walking on wet or uneven surfaces
  • Wear shoes with grip
  • Avoid wearing high heels or shoes with wedges, which increase the likelihood of tripping
  • Hold on to railings when you use the stairs
  • Don’t carry heavy loads or large items that prevent you from seeing what’s in front of you