During pregnancy, your uterus expands to almost 100 times its original size. This amount of growth can cause strain and discomfort, as well as affect your balance and posture. Back pain is the most common side effect of pregnancy, and is the complaint of many pregnant women. This page will help teach you to help manage and relieve back pain during pregnancy.
WHAT CAUSES BACK PAIN DURING PREGNANCY?
There are many different factors that contribute to back pain during pregnancy. The most common ones include:
- Changes in Posture: During pregnancy, the uterus grows and becomes heavier. The new weight from the fetus, placenta, and amniotic fluid can cause your center of gravity to change, which your body attempts to accommodate by changing posture. During the later months of pregnancy when the baby is at its largest, women tend to lean backward. This causes strain on muscles in the back.
- Weak Abdominal Muscles: If your abdominal muscles are weak, pregnancy can cause additional strain on them. Since they have to work harder to support the weight of a new baby, these muscles can become very tired and sore from being stretched. This can cause back pain, as well as minor injuries during exercise.
- Hormonal Changes: The hormones that are released during pregnancy can also cause back pain. The body releases a hormone that relaxes the muscles and ligaments of the pelvis in order to prepare for an easy passage of the baby. This loosening can cause the joints to become too flexible, which also causes back pain.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP EASE MY BACK PAIN?
There are many ways to help naturally ease back pain, and most of them come from being more aware of your body and how it moves. The following tips should help you reduce back pain:
- Do not lift heavy objects, or ask for assistance when lifting them
- Wear low-heeled shoes with good arch support
- Place a board between the board spring and the mattress of your bed if it is too soft
- When standing for long periods of time, periodically put one foot on a stool or box
- Sit in chairs with good back support
- When sitting, place a small pillow behind the small of your lower back
- When picking things up, squat with your knees and keep your back straight, rather than bending at the waist
- Sleep on your side with one or two pillows between your legs for support
- Apply heat or ice to painful areas of the back
Exercise is also a very important way to reduce stress and stay healthy during pregnancy. Exercising regularly can help you reduce back pain and keep off any unwanted weight during pregnancy.
WHAT EXERCISES CAN I DO TO PREVENT BACK PROBLEMS?
There are several exercises that you can do to help reduce back stress and to strengthen the muscles:
- Sit on a chair and keep your arms relaxed.
- Slowly and easily, bend forward, keeping your arms relaxed and hanging down.
- Hold for 5 seconds, then sit up without arching your back. Repeat five times.
Upper Body Bends:
- Stand straight, with your hands on your hips and knees slightly bent; legs apart.
- Keeping your upper back straight, bend forward slowly until you feel the muscle in your upper thigh stretch.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Stand against a wall with your knees bent and feet 10-12 inches away from the wall.
- Press your lower back against the wall and hold for 10 seconds, and then release.
- Do this 10 times.
Leg Lift Crawl:
- Kneel on hands and knees with arms straight and hands below your shoulders.
- Lift your knee and slowly bring it to your elbow.
- Keeping your back straight, bring your leg back to the original position and extend it without swinging.
- Repeat on both sides 5-10 times.
- Sit on the floor with your legs crossed.
- Grab your left foot with your left hand, and lean gently on your right arm for support. Twist gently.
- Switch hands and repeat on the left.
- Repeat 5-10 times on each side.
- Sit on the floor with your feet on the floor in front of you and your knees bent; hands clasped in front of you.
- Twist your upper torso to the left until your clasped hands touch the floor. Repeat on the other side.
- Repeat on both sides 5 times.
Rocking Back Arch:
- Kneel on your hands and knees with a straight back, weight evenly distributed.
- Rock back and forth for 5 seconds.
- Curling your back up as far as you can, return back to your original position.
- Repeat 5-10 times.
- Kneel with your knees 10 inches apart and arms straight, on your hands and knees.
- Slowly curl backward, keeping your head tucked in and your arms extended.
- Hold for 10 seconds, then return back to all fours. Repeat five times.
WHEN SHOULD I CONTACT MY DOCTOR?
Although mild back pain is common in pregnancy, there are times when it is important to call your doctor. If your pain persists for more than two weeks or is extremely severe, you should call your doctor. Severe back pain could be a symptom of preterm labor. Sometimes, your doctor may recommend a special device to help manage your back pain, such as a pregnancy girdle, elastic sling, or a back brace. These can all help you manage the weight of the baby.
Although back pain is one of the most common ailments of pregnancy, there are definitely steps that you can take to reduce it. By exercising, being healthy, and getting good support, you can greatly reduce the unpleasant symptoms of back pain. Talk to your doctor about pregnancy and back pain and what he or she can do for you.