Back Pain During Pregnancy

How to help with pregnancy-related back pain

Reports show that between 50 to 70 percent of pregnant women experience back pain at some point during their pregnancy.

Pregnancy is among the most drastic changes the human body can undergo, and not all these changes are smooth. Reports show that between 50 to 70 percent of pregnant women experience back pain at some point during their pregnancy. While it is most common later in the pregnancy, it can happen at any point, and get to the point where it makes for missed days from work and even a more difficult delivery. On top of this, it isn’t guaranteed to go away when your baby is born. The good news is that there are plenty of options out there to help cope with pregnancy-related back pain.

What’s Causing My Back Pain?

Note that there are two common types of back pain you encounter during pregnancy, posterior pelvic pain and lumbar pain. Lumbar pain is similar to lower back pain, and is generally increased by prolonged sitting or standing. Posterior pelvic pain is four times as common as lumbar pain during pregnancy, and manifests as a deep pain felt below and to the side at the waistline. You may also feel pain below the waistline on either side across the tailbone. One thing to note is that a previous high fitness level may not lower your chances of posterior pelvic pain during pregnancy, while it may help you with lumbar pain.

Back pain during pregnancy comes from a variety of sources. For one, as your uterus grows, your center of gravity shifts as your abdominal muscles stretch out. Combined, these factors change your posture and put a strain on your back. Pressure on your nerves may occur as well. Not to mention, the weight gain that comes with pregnancy puts more work on your muscle and stress on your joints. All these issues are exacerbated by certain activities, including walking, rolling in bed, climbing stairs, or rising from a seated position. Your hormones may work against you in this regard as well. Pregnancy-related hormones create joint laxity in the pelvic area. Combined with the other issues, they can lead to an overall lack of joint support.

What Do I Do?

Depending on the severity of your back pain, you may want to start with some of the less aggressive options on this list. Note that in many cases, some options complement each other as well.

Check Your Posture: As we mentioned before, pregnancy changes your center of gravity. Some women try to compensate for the forward shift by leaning back, which can stress muscles in the lower back. In general, try to stand straight and tall, hold your chest high, and avoid locking your knees. Be sure to invest in a chair that supports your back, or put a pillow behind your lower back.

Don’t Be Afraid To Gear Up: On this same topic, there are many other things you can buy to help avoid back pain. Be sure to invest in some low-heeled shoes with good arch support. Maternity support belts aren’t a necessity, but many women find them helpful. It may be worth looking into one if you find the additional support could be useful.

Sleep And Move Properly:  In the same vein of adjusting your posture, you will want to change the way you do certain activities to accommodate for your body changes. Be sure to sleep on your side rather than your back, and consider using pregnancy support pillows between your bent knees and under your back. Also, if you still have to do physical activities, be sure to know your limits, and be ready to ask for help rather than risk overexerting yourself.

Exercise: When your back hurts, exercise may feel like the last thing on your mind, but if done in a measured manner, pregnancy exercises can help your body adjust to the changes it is going through. These include weight training to improve the muscles that support your back and legs, or light stretching to increase flexibility in these areas.

Get Extra Help: If back pain is getting to a point where it is difficult to manage, you may want to try some different techniques to help your pain. Some research suggests that acupuncture and chiropractic treatments may be able to relieve back pain during pregnancy. If you choose this route, be sure to let your provider know that you are pregnant well beforehand.

It’s important to note that any type of lifestyle changes that you choose to employ while pregnant, be they directed to your back or otherwise, should be consulted with your medical professional of choice. Industry experts like Back Pain Centers of America are a great place to go to get general knowledge to start. After you read up, go to your doctor, get their opinion, ask any questions on your mind, and put together a plan together. Keeping informed is the best way to ensure a smooth transition for both you and your latest addition.