Back Pain during Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be super tough on your back. As your baby grows and your body morphs, your back is one of the places which end up buckling under stress. Here are some ways to lessen the stress on your back and keep it pain-free.
What causes back pain during pregnancy?
When a baby starts to grow inside of you, your body begins to soften to allow for extra stretching to accommodate this little being. This loosening up of the ligaments puts extra stress on your back as the back and pelvis are where most of the belly is being carried.
Some important causes of back pain are:
- Rapid weight gain: It is healthy and normal to typically gain around 12 to 16 kgs during pregnancy. Rapid weight gain may sometimes magnify back issues.
- Posture: As our belly gets bigger, our centre of gravity shifts, causing us to waddle or feel trippy when walking and climbing stairs. To cope with this, we adjust our posture without even noticing it which maybe adding a strain on our backs.
- Hormone changes: The hormone Relaxin is responsible for stretching your joints and ligaments. It also acts on the spine, causing it to loosen, leading to pain.
- Muscle Separation: As the belly expands, sometimes it may impact the sheath of abdominal muscles that run from our rib cage to the pelvis, causing it to separate vertically in the middle. This can worsen the already existing back pain.
- Emotional stress: If you are very worried, anxious, stressed or tensed about your body and the so many quick changes happening to you, you may experience a lot more pain generally. You may notice an increase in pain during the stressful phases of your pregnancy.
When does back pain occur during pregnancy?
It is very common to experience back pain very early on, as early as the first trimester. The pain usually eases and goes away after you give birth.
How can you care for your back during pregnancy?
Now that you know how commonly prevalent back pain is during pregnancy, it is a wise move to avoid stuff that strains it. Here are some things that you can do to keep your back safe.
- Posture: As our belly grows bigger, the centre of gravity changes. This adds a constant pressure on the spine for months. Practising good posture and carrying yourself with care can reduce the burden on your back.
- Sitting: As a continuation of the above point, use a small pillow to support yourself when you have to sit for long periods.
- Footwear: Irregularity at the feet level can cause your whole body to misalign causing back pains. Pick orthopaedic shoes that comfortably cushion your feet and support the increasing weight.
- Sleep Position: Lay on your left side, with a pillow placed between your knees. Sleeping on your back can aggravate your back pain and can be detrimental by interfering with the blood flow. Using a firmer bed may also help. Check out the ‘Sleeping during Pregnancy’ post on our site for detailed information.
- No bending over If you have to pick something from the floor, squat and bend at the knees rather than bending over directly. Keep your back straight while squatting to keep your back safe.
Carrying weight: Distribute weight evenly when you carry weight. The belly in and itself is enough cargo, but if you find yourself having to lift stuff, grab them one in each hand and support your spine rather than carrying it all on one side.
- Turns: When you turn, turn wholly from the feet rather than spinning at the waist level; otherwise you are at risk of twisting your spine.
How can you treat back pain during pregnancy?
Here are some treatment options that you can practice to ease the back pain during pregnancy. Consult with your gynaecologist before doing these to prevent hurting yourself.
- Exercise: If your gynaecologist waves a green flag, pick any exercise close to your heart and commit to it. Exercises like walking, swimming, yoga and stationary cycling can help strengthen your abdomen and back while keeping the pain away. Light stretching on waking up and before you go to bed is also a good start.
- Compresses: If your doctor agrees, you can try hot and cold compresses to ease your pain. You can use an ice pack or a pack of frozen vegetables for 20 minutes each day, then switch to a hot water bottle or a heating pad for the next three days. Do not apply heat or cold on your abdomen area at any time.
- Acupuncture: If you are interested and can find a reliable Acupuncturist nearby, you can give Acupuncture a try. In Acupuncture, fine needles are pinned onto you in precise points for a few minutes to provide pain relief. It has helped many women get away from body pain. As always, pick a trusted care provider and choose what you best like.
- Chiropractic: Chiropractors use their hands to massage the spine to relieve stress. If you can access a good chiropractor, you can book a session to see if it helps you. Always let all of your caregivers know that you are pregnant before you begin treatment.
- Physiotherapy: Sometimes the source of intense back pains lies in the pelvis. Pelvic floor physiotherapy aims to relieve your pain by massaging your pelvic floor to loosen the very tight muscles. As this massage is carried out through your vagina, it is also said to reduce vaginal tearing during delivery and also makes your recovery after delivery easier.
- Belt: A maternity belt can help manage the pelvic girdle pain that engulfs your lower back and hips by supporting the weight of your growing belly better. It takes the load off your back for instant pain relief. However, wearing a belt all the time will cause your muscles to weaken. Also, wearing the belt too tightly for pain relief can interfere with the baby’s head moving down and also cause organ prolapse. Consult with your doctor and use a maternity belt during taxing duties to cope with the pain.