Finding a comfortable sitting position in later pregnancy can feel nearly impossible at times. As your belly grows, kicking back in your favorite chair may be the opposite of relaxing, giving you aches and pains — and stress about getting out of it.
Not only that but slouching on a couch may also tighten your muscles, cramping space your baby needs to move into an ideal birth position.
Tailor sitting is an exercise that can help you work on your posture, while at the same time giving you some much-needed sitting relief. Here’s more about how to get into this position, what the benefits are, and some modifications to try for comfort.
Related: How to exercise safely in the third trimester of pregnancy
The term “tailor sitting” may be unfamiliar to you. However, you very likely have heard about sitting “criss-cross applesauce” or perhaps even “sitting cross-legged.”
These positions are all essentially the same. You sit with your buttocks on the floor. Your knees are bent to the sides with your feet and ankles crossing in front of you.
To get into this position:
- Begin with your sit bones (buttocks) on the floor or on a yoga mat with your feet in front of you. Be sure to focus on making your tailbone straight. Some people may even find this position more comfortable with your sit bones resting atop a folded blanket or thick mat.
- Bring your right foot inward — close to your left sit bone — with your right knee out to the side of your body. Then bring in your left foot toward your right sit bone, crossing your shins. Again, both knees should be out toward the sides of your body.
- Sit tall and relax your shoulders. Draw the crown of your head up toward the ceiling, lengthening your neck in both directions. If you feel you need extra back support, consider moving your location so you can align your back straight up against a wall.
- As you sit, focus on letting your knees relax down toward the floor. If your hips feel uncomfortably stretched, you may support your knees by placing yoga blocks or rolled towels/blankets underneath them.
- Breathe. Begin sitting in this position for just 30 seconds. Work up toward longer stretches of time — relaxing into the position for several minutes.
Once you’re comfortable sitting this way, you may even try a tailor press:
- Start by getting in the same basic tailor sitting position.
- Then place your hands under your knees.
- Inhale as you gently press down with your knees and up with your hands, creating counter pressure.
- Keep pressing for five seconds before releasing.
- Repeat a few times as desired.
Tailor sitting is part of what are called tailor exercises — and are quite beneficial during pregnancy. This position is included as one of five key exercises to do as part of the Bradley Method natural childbirth method.
- Tailor sitting encourages good posture, which, in turn, may ease back pain and improve circulation along the midline of your body.
- Good posture also helps move the uterus forward. Why is this important? Well, extra wiggle room may help your baby move themselves into a more favorable position for birth.
- Beyond that, sitting in this way can help you gain strength in your pelvis, hip, and thigh muscles. In fact, tailor sitting can be useful even after your baby is born as you work to build strength back up in your pelvic floor.
- While you’re doing all that strengthening, you’re also able to stretch your inner thighs and groin, giving you some added flexibility in these important areas.
- Pelvic floor work, including tailor sitting, may even help to prevent uterine prolapse and urinary incontinence after your baby is born.
Bradley Method instructors at Sweet Pea Births explain that the tailor sit position is also a great place to practice Kegel exercises.
You can safely come into a tailor sit anytime during your pregnancy. You may find that it becomes more comfortable than other sitting positions as your belly grows.
As far as how long you sit in this position, that’s up to you. You may want to begin only staying in a tailor sit for 30 seconds or so. As you get more comfortable, increase your time in the position to 10 minutes, up to two or three times (or more) each day.
Ring sitting is similar to tailor sitting. The major difference is foot placement.
With tailor sitting, your feet are crossed one over the other. With ring sitting, your feet rest sole to sole, forming a ring. And if you’re a yogi, you may notice that ring sitting is similar to the popular Bound Angle Pose or Baddha Konasana.
The benefits of ring sitting are similar to those of tailor sitting. You still strengthen and stretch the same areas of the body. It’s just more of a personal preference as to how you place your feet.
Related: The best prenatal yoga videos to try
This sitting position is likely safe for most people. However, if you have any previous injuries to your knees or groin, you may want to ask a doctor about modifications. For example, you can support your knees/thighs using rolled blankets, towels, or yoga blocks.
Tailor sitting shouldn’t hurt. If it does, dial your intensity down a notch or two, or discontinue and ask your doctor for advice on other positions or exercises that may be more comfortable.
Keep in mind that back pain and pelvic pain/pressure can be signs of early or premature labor. Contact your doctor if you experience pain or if you have any other signs of labor, like:
- regular/timeable contractions
- abdominal cramping
- fluid coming from the vagina
- spotting or bleeding
- a sudden change in your vaginal discharge
Sitting in a tailor position for even a few minutes a day can help you work on your posture and stretch and strengthen sore muscles.
If you’re particularly busy or stressed, tailor sitting also provides quiet time to really tune in with yourself and your growing baby. It may even help with your labor by allowing your baby to get into a more optimal birthing position.
Whatever the case, consider giving tailor sitting a try. Just be sure to bring up any back pain, pressure, or other preterm labor concerns to your healthcare provider.