Back Pain In Pregnancy

By Jenn Leckie

February 21, 2019

I am a Registered Nurse with over 10 years in maternal health and labour & delivery, Lactation Counselor, and Sleep Coach working with families in Langley, Surrey, and Abbotsford. I am a Mama to an amazing little boy and one fur baby.

Back pain in pregnancy is a common and normal, although every uncomfortable, part of pregnancy for most women. Back pain can start anytime in pregnancy but it can start as early as the 1st trimester when hormones have increased causing the ligaments and joints to relax, later on in the pregnancy the weight gain and change in center of gravity most often cause the pain.  

Here are 7 of the best ways to relieve this pain:   

Physical activity 

As hard as it sounds one of the best things you can do for your sore back is to stay active and move.  The more you can stay mobile the more your muscle can stay lose and you can avoid the stiff muscle pain. Some exercises can get uncomfortable in pregnancy so try to focus on prenatal yoga classes and swimming.    

Stretching

Gentle stretching of back muscles can help to decrease tightness and pain.  Lay flat on your back or sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Cross one foot over the other in the shape of the number 4.  As you exhale, slowly lean forward keeping your flat back until you feel a stretch in your lower back and buttocks. The Cat-cow stretch is also great in stretching your lower back.  Begin in all fours with the top of your feet flat on the floor and shoulders over your wrist. As you inhale, drop your belly letting your back stretch, this is the cow. As you exhale, press into your hands and round your back while looking at your belly, this is the cat.  Repeat 5 times.

Applying cold and heat

Applying cold and heat to your back can be quite effective.  Using cold therapy for 20 mins a day multiple times a day. With hot tubs the concern is raising your core temperature too high but that doesn’t occur with heating pads so they are safe to use.  Remember not to have the pad on too high to irritate your skin and never fall asleep on the heating pad.  

Massage 

A Registered Massage Therapist with a specialty in pregnancy can offer lots of relief for your back pain.  Surprisingly you might find that the massage therapist will spend most of the session on your bum, hamstrings and calves.  With the extra weight from that bowling ball sized baby belly puts a lot of stress on the glutes as most women tuck their tailbone under which tightens those muscles.  

Chiropractic 

You might think that a chiropractor will twist you like a pretzel or crack your back and neck but during pregnancy care can be quite gentle.  Choose someone you are already familiar with or someone who is specially trained in pregnant and postpartum women. The chiropractic adjustments will work on re-aligning the pelvis and back. 

Pelvic belts 

A maternity belt is quite helpful if you notice the pain around your middle lower back and hips.  This belt helps support the ligaments and muscles that are stretching with the growth of your baby. It is best to wear the belt during more difficult parts of the day. Wearing the belt all day may cause the muscles to stop getting worked and completely stop working.  These belts can be found in most maternity stores but don’t forget about amazon.  

Good posture 

Making small changes when you sit and stand can make a huge difference in your back pain.  When you are sitting use a rolled up towel behind your lower back for extra support, rest your feet on a stack of books if your knees are not parallel with the ground, and sit straight up with your shoulders relaxed and back.  When you are standing focus on standing straight and tall, positioning your feet hip width apart with your weight in your heels and don’t lock your knees. Avoid wearing high heels.

If your back pain is severe in pregnancy or last more than two weeks, talk to your health care provider.  They might be able to recommend medication or other treatments that can help you. If you have back pain during pregnancy that is accompanied by vaginal bleeding, fever, or burning during urination, contact your health care provider right away.  

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