Pregnancy back pain
In the last couple of weeks my back was just killing me. During my first pregnancy 3 years ago, I didn’t suffer from back pain. This was probably because I didn’t have kids yet, so I could focus solely on the one in the belly, myself and my husband. Now our toddler weighs 15kg (c.a. 33 pounds) and we’re toilet training him. Helping him get on the toilet seat and back down while hubby’s at work is a strain with my growing tummy.
Since during pregnancy you can’t take any kind of genuine medicine (apart from paracetamol – but still first ask your physician), I tried to figure out two things. First, what causes the lower back pain (before pregnancy I usually had upper back pain). And second, what I could do to lessen the suffering.
Causes of the pain
Some causes of pregnancy back pain seemed logical, but others were less obvious. Here’s what I found:
- Relaxin – Relaxin is one of the pregnancy hormones. Its role is to make your pelvis more flexible so it can allow for the childbirth. However, its effects can be found all over your body – all your joints and ligaments become more elastic, which may cause pain or an unpleasant feeling in the back as well as in other areas.
- Weight gain – An average pregnant woman gains about 28-40lbs over a period of fewer than 9 months. Your skeleton and muscles must support the additional weight. Since the gain is rather rapid, the muscles are not able to develop fast enough, hence the pain.
- The shift of the center of gravity – Additionally, most of the weight gained during pregnancy is located at the front of the body. This makes your center of gravity move forward. Because of that, we tend to lean backward to maintain balance, but at the same time, we put even more pressure on the lower back muscles.
- Wrong posture and lack of activity – Bad habits, such as bending instead of squatting, long sitting, unhealthy sleeping position may all contribute to back pain.
- Stress – When under stress, our muscles get tense. This is why stress can also add to muscle pain.
How to ease pregnancy back pain
What a pregnant woman can do in case of back pain is first of all getting better care of herself. In some cases of back pain, you may need to consult your physician, but most of them aren’t serious. In fact, according to the American Pregnancy Association, 50-70% of pregnant women suffer from back pain at some point in their journey. What can alleviate the suffering is as follows:
- Altering your everyday habits – The British National Health System webpage lists a number of tips on what to do on an everyday basis to help you ease back pain while pregnant (here).
- Exercise – There are some pregnancy-safe exercises for your back on nhs.uk above. You can also find some special yoga or other fitness classes in your area. Make sure they are specially designed for pregnant women so that the exercises themselves won’t cause any harm to your baby belly.
- Warmth or cold – putting something warm or cold, depending on what helps you, may ease muscle and joint pain.
- Massage – You might want to find a specialist, but again, double-check if their service is safe for pregnant women.
- Support belt, sleep pillow – these may help you maintain proper spine position while standing, sitting, or sleeping.
- Feet up – Allow yourself for some time with your feet higher than your body. This not only helps your back rest, but also eases the feeling of swollen feet and legs in the later time of your pregnancy.
I hope these tips will prove helpful. What I appreciated most was using a heated massaging chair at my grandma’s. Getting rest and stretching the back gently also helped. If you suffer from back pain and try out these ideas, please, share in comments.