As your body changes and adapts to a pregnancy, lower back pain can be an inevitable side effect. While lower back pain doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with the pregnancy, it is still uncomfortable and can negatively impact your mental and physical health. It is important to take care of yourself throughout pregnancy, and this includes your lower back. Continue reading below to learn some tips on relieving lower back pain during pregnancy!
It is estimated that more than 50% of women experience lower back pain during pregnancy or even during their postpartum phase, making it an uncomfortable predicament along with various other ongoing hormonal changes. Although there are several reasons why you might be going through a discomforting back, one evident cause is your growing body weight. This is a positive sign of good health during pregnancy but can take a toll on your body when it continues for a prolonged period.
Causes of back pain during pregnancy
Pain can be in the pelvic region anteriorly just above the bladder or in the whole pelvic girdle region. Pain can be bilateral, unilateral or can radiate right down to the calves and thighs. Between anterior pelvic pain and posterior pelvic pain, the former is more common amongst women.
A typical cause of lower back pain during pregnancy is when the pelvis joins the spine at the sacroiliac joint.
This may happen due to the following reasons:
- Weight gain
A well-developed woman enjoying a healthy pregnancy can expect to put on about 30 to 40 pounds which put additional pressure on the spine in very little time. Additionally, the weight of the baby growing inside the womb and that of the uterus exerts a force on the nerves and blood vessels in the back and pelvis resulting in lower back pain.
- Hormone changes
At the time of pregnancy, the body releases the hormones like relaxin and progesterone that make the ligaments in the pelvic area relaxed. They help the pelvis region prepare for the birthing process. The very same hormone may have some effect on the lower back region leading to pain and discomfort.
- Posture changes
With pregnancy, your tummy starts to grow outwards automatically shifting your centre of gravity. Adjustment in posture and the way you move results in strain and lower back pain.
Emotional stress can also contribute to muscle tension in the backside that can be experienced as back spasms or back pain. During stressful stages of your pregnancy, especially your last trimester, this can increase significantly.
- Low levels of calcium and vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D must be in a healthy range during pregnancy. Deficiency of any or both of these may become a cause of bony pain. Talk to your doctor for the necessary supplements and dietary modifications if found deficient in tests.
Home remedies for back pain during pregnancy
Exercise boosts flexibility and strengthens muscles. It can ease the stress on the spine. Safe exercises for back pain during pregnancy are swimming, walking and low impact cycling. You can also practice yoga under the guidance of a certified trainer. The physical therapist or doctor may recommend exercises to further strengthen the abdomen and back.
Change your posture
Slouching puts stress on the spine and further aggravate your back pain. To maintain good posture, use a good quality chair that provides firm support to the back. You can also lean back a little to make room for your growing belly. You may also consider wearing a support belt.
Heat and cold
Applying a hot and cold compress to the back may be beneficial. If your doctor gives permission you can use an ice pack wrapped in a towel as a cold compress. Apply this for 20 minutes throughout the day as many times as advised by your doctor. After three days, you may be advised to switch to a heating pad but never apply heat directly to the abdomen area during your pregnancy.
Doing light stretching exercises such as yoga or postpartum pilates under expert supervision can help strengthen the pelvic muscles and back region.
Sitting or standing in one place for long hours can increase back pain, aim to move for a few minutes after every 25 minutes.
To minimise pain surrounding the pelvic region, you can cut down on activities such as running, climbing stairs and supporting your legs with the help of a footstool when sitting or with a pillow under the feet when lying down.
If your lower back pain during pregnancy does not reduce even after following these tips for a few days and if you are very stressed about the pregnancy and or delivery, seek guidance from a professional about the best way forward.
Sleeping positions that can help
Often incorrect sleeping posture can further enhance body and back pain. To get restful and healthy sleep and wake up fresh the next day, here are a few tips on how to relieve back pain during pregnancy while sleeping:
- Sleep on one side with a pillow between your legs or with a pillow behind the back if it brings more comfort.
- Refrain from sleeping in a straight position for long while you are pregnant.
- A bit of massage and hot/cold compression right before bedtime can bring comfort.
- Take whatever medication prescribed to you by the gynecologist.
What not to do when having back pain
While we have already enlightened you on what to do here is a quick look at what not to do to increase back pain:
- Do not stand straight with your lower tummy muscles in a tightened position.
- Weight should be equally distributed across both feet at all times.
- Do not cross your legs or slouch when sitting for long.
- Avoid wearing completely flat and comfortable shoes.
- Do not bend at the hips when picking up something.
Aside from the do’s and don’ts mentioned above keep an eye out for radiating pain or neurological problems such as numbness or even muscle weakness which might then call for an expert consultation as these qualify under severe back pain during pregnancy. Consult your doctor to understand the right exercises for you during pregnancy.