7 November, 2023
Pregnancy and Back Pain: Understanding and Alleviating the Discomfort
Pregnancy is a beautiful journey marked by significant physical and emotional changes. As the body prepares to nurture and bring new life into the world, many women experience a common but uncomfortable symptom: back pain. Understanding the causes and remedies for this discomfort can help expectant mothers navigate through their pregnancy with greater ease.
Why Does Pregnancy Cause Back Pain?
- Weight Gain: On average, women gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. The spine has to support this added weight, which can strain the back muscles and lead to pain.
- Changes in Posture: As the baby grows, a woman’s center of gravity shifts forward. This often results in a change in posture, leading to strain on the back.
- Hormonal Changes: Pregnancy releases a hormone called relaxin, which allows ligaments in the pelvic region to relax and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birth process. This can affect the support your spine typically receives.
- Muscle Separation: As the uterus expands, the two parallel sheets of muscles (the rectal abdominis muscles) that run from the rib cage down to the pubic bone may separate along the center seam. This separation can worsen back pain.
- Stress: Emotional stress can lead to muscle tension in the back, which can be felt as back pain or back spasms.
Alleviating Pregnancy Back Pain
Engaging in regular physical activities can strengthen your back and abdominal muscles. Activities like prenatal yoga, swimming, and walking can be beneficial.
More information about exercise during pregnancy
Practice Good Posture
Standing straight and tall, keeping your shoulders relaxed, and using a support pillow when sitting can make a huge difference.
Heat and Cold
Applying heat or cold to your back can provide relief. However, always ensure the temperature is mild and comfortable. Avoid direct contact with ice to prevent frostbite.
More information about heat packs during pregnancy
A prenatal massage by a certified therapist can help relax muscle tension, improve circulation, and alleviate back pain.
Wear Supportive Shoes
Ditch the heels for a while! Low-heeled shoes with good arch support are ideal. Some women also benefit from wearing a maternity support belt.
Sleep on Your Side
Use a pillow between your knees and ankles to align your hips and reduce stress on your lower back. This is also important for bubs health later on during pregnancy.
Some women find relief from pregnancy back pain through acupuncture. Acupuncture can be used for many aliments experienced during pregnancy including nausea, back pain and labour preparation.
Many women swear by chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy. Ensure the chiropractor is experienced in prenatal care. In addition to your own comfort, your chiropractor can help create space for baby to move and descend to prepare for labour.
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Before taking any medication, consult your healthcare provider. Some pain relievers can be unsafe during pregnancy.
Prevention is Key
While not all back pain can be prevented during pregnancy, there are steps to minimise its severity:
- Stay Active: Regular exercise not only helps with weight management but also strengthens muscles which can counteract back pain.
- Avoid Lifting Heavy Objects: If lifting is necessary, ensure you bend at the knees and not at the waist.
- Eat Healthy: A healthy diet can minimise inflammation and excessive weight gain to take pressure off the joints & muscles.
While back pain is a common experience during pregnancy, it doesn't have to be unbearable. Understanding its causes and adopting proactive measures can significantly reduce discomfort. It's crucial to remember that every woman's experience is unique. What works for one may not work for another. Always consult your healthcare provider when considering treatments or if the pain is severe.
Your pregnancy journey deserves to be as comfortable as possible. Embrace the changes, seek solutions, and remember that the gift at the end makes every challenge worth it.
About the Author
Dr Cassie Atkinson-Quinton - Chiropractor, Doula, Women's Health Yoga & Pilates Instructor, Spinning Babies Lover
As a Chiropractor, Doula and perinatal Pilates & Yoga instructor, Dr Cassie loves to help pregnant women keep fit, healthy and comfortable. Knowing how empowering it felt to be fit and energetic during the pregnancy of her son inspires Cassie to want this for her patients. Cassie incorporates Spinning Babies, Yoga and Pilates exercises into her prenatal and postpartum Chiropractic sessions. She's currently studying her Graduate Certificate in Women's Health Medicine through the University of New South Wales.
Dr Rabiah Nuredini - Chiropractor
Rabiah is a talented & passionate Chiropractor. She's got a keen interest in living a healthy life and imparting that on those she sees. She has completed additional training in various fields including paediatrics, pregnancy and neurology.
Understanding that everyone requires a unique take, she incorporates a range of techniques as part of her sessions. This might include cupping, dry needling, adjustments, targeted massage, rehab and laser therapy.