While being pregnant can be a wonderful experience, it often comes with a few challenges such as lower back pain.
There are essentially two types of pregnancy back pain: lumbar pain (over and around the lumbar vertebrae area) and posterior pelvic pain (in the back of your pelvis). Pelvic pain can be felt deep inside the buttocks, in the back of your thighs and/or over your pubic bone.
There are many potential reasons behind your back pain – here are five of the most common causes:
- Hormonal changes – The hormone relaxin literally allows the ligaments that attach your pelvic bones to your spine to relax. Your also joints loosen, leading to instability and pain when walking, bending, sitting for long periods or rolling over in bed.
- Postural changes – Your growing belly shifts your centre of gravity forward. Along with weakened abdominal muscles, your posture may be compensating (i.e. slouching or allowing your back to bow and your pelvis to shift back) and putting additional strain on your back.
- Extra weight – Women typically gain between 25 and 35 pounds during a healthy pregnancy. Not only does this weight need to be supported by the spine, it creates extra work for the muscles and stress on the joints, all causing lower back pain.
- Stress – Emotional stress can cause muscle tension in the back.
- Previous or chronic back pain – With all the changes that occur in your body during pregnancy, old issues may flare up.
WHAT TO DO
There are several things you can do to ease the discomfort of back pain during pregnancy and prevent it from turning into a long-term problem.
- Exercise – Regular exercise strengthens muscles and increases flexibility, easing the stress on your spine. Swimming is a fantastic option as it strengthens muscles while the water’s buoyancy removes any strain.
- Keep active – If you can’t get to the gym or pool, make walking and stretching part of your daily routine. Avoid sitting for long periods or bed rest.
- Check your posture – When standing, ensure that you use a pelvic tilt, stand tall and hold your shoulders back. When sitting at a desk, rest your feet on a box or stack of books, sit up straight, use additional support behind your back and, if in the third trimester, a pillow on your lap under your belly.
- Sleep position – Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees. The pillow should be wide or thick enough to almost set your legs hip distance apart. As your belly grows, use another pillow underneath it for support.
- Massage therapy – See a certified prenatal massage therapist, who will relax muscles that are overworking and tense due to the changing body. Prenatal massage therapy deals with some of the other pregnancy-related conditions as well such as carpal tunnel syndrome, edema in legs and hands, insomnia and headaches. A certified prenatal massage therapist will also provide advice about where to take prenatal classes, proper breast feeding positions for your body, the importance of rest after delivery as well as appropriate exercise after baby.
If you have pregnancy-related back pain, make an appointment with one of our certified massage therapists to relax and experience some relief.