Back Pain During Pregnancy - 5 Causes And 11 Treatments

Back Pain During Pregnancy


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Congratulations! You’re pregnant! That’s a great news- and if you’re a first time mom, you have a good reason to celebrate one of the best moments of your life.

There are moments when being pregnant feels so magical and thrilling that you never want it to end. One thing is for certain-there’s no other experience in life comparable to the feeling you experience when you finally realize you are pregnant; these nine months will change your life forever!

You need to be prepared both physically and mentally for big changes that will now happen in the next few months of your pregnancy-your body will start producing some hormones, including the hormone ‘relaxin’, which helps prepare the body for childbirth. One of the effects of ‘relaxin’ is the loosening of ligaments throughout the body, making pregnant women less stable and more prone to injury; and as the belly grows larger, the muscles strain to carry extra weight, especially in the back region, which in turn, leads to back pain.

Pregnancy is thought to be a predisposing factor which leads to other conditions that can generate discomfort and low back pain during early stages of pregnancy is due to both mechanical and hormonal factors. Studies indicate that somewhere between a half and three quarters of pregnant women suffer from back pain at some point of time during their pregnancy period.

Causes of Back Pain in Pregnant Women

Pregnancy back pain is typically observed in the area where the pelvis meets your spine, at the sacroiliac joint. The most common causes of back pain during early pregnancy include:

1. Weight Gain:

During a healthy pregnancy period, women tend to gain a lot of weight and it is the spine that has to support that weight. The weight of the growing baby and uterus exerts pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and back which causes back pain in early pregnancy.

2. Posture Changes:

Pregnancy shifts your centre of gravity. As a result, there you may experience back pain due to stretched abdominal muscles that restrict you from maintaining proper alignment.

3. Muscle Separation:

As the uterus expands, two parallel sheets of muscles that run from the rib cage to the pubic bone may separate along the centre seam. This separation may worsen back pain.

4. Stress:

Emotional stress can cause muscle tension in the back, which may be experienced as back pain or back spasms.

[ Read: How To Reduce Stress During Pregnancy ]

5. Overweight:

You are more likely to experience back pain during your pregnancy if you are overweight or if it is not your first pregnancy. Strenuous work, previous low back or pelvic pain, or injury to your pelvis can also cause back pain in pregnancy.

Although back pain is synonymous with pregnancy, it is curable! Understanding the causes of back pain and what can be done to alleviate it, can provide some relief.

10 Treatments to Ease Back Pain During Pregnancy

Here we’ve put down some tips and tricks to help you deal with back pain during early pregnancy.

1. Know Your Limits!

Try not to lift heavy objects. In case you have to bend to pick up something heavy, lift it correctly! Don’t bend at waist; bend on your knees or squat and lift it. Do not strain your back.

[ Read: Lifting Weight During Pregnancy ]

2. Practice Good Posture:

  • Avoid sitting or standing for a long time. Use a stool or a resting chair and avoid standing on one foot. Sit periodically in case you have to stand for a long duration.
  • Sit on chairs that have supportive backs or use pillows at your back, and try to sit up straight.
  • Stand straight with your shoulders relaxed.
  • At work and when driving, consider a lumbar support for your chair. Try not to cross your legs, and check whether the position of your computer screen and chair are correct. Try to move away from your desk regularly and get fresh air at lunchtime.
  • Be careful while getting done with your household work. Avoid heavy strenuous works.
  • Use a warm towel or a heating pad on the lowest setting to provide you comfort.
  • If you have a toddler and you are pregnant, it’s especially important that you adhere to correct lifting techniques with them too. Always kneel or squat to pick up your child and if this becomes difficult, sit down and let your child climb up onto your lap.

[ Read: Heating Pads During Pregnancy ]

3. Sleep Easy!

  • Sleep on your side and do not lock your knees. Consider using a pregnancy/support pillow to make sleeping more comfortable, or place a pillow between your knees and another under your belly; this prevents your top leg from twisting across your body into the recovery position while you sleep.
  • Use a firm mattress to sleep on.
  • To get out of bed, roll on to one side and push yourself up to a sitting position, then slowly stand up.
  • Ask your gynaecologist to recommend stretching, tummy and stabilization exercises and such low-impact exercises which are safe for you — these regular exercises can help ease back pain and boost your body flexibility.
  • Get a gentle pregnancy massage if your doctor gives a nod for it!
  • Never take any medications without checking with your doctor first, it may cause complications in pregnancy later.

4. Dress Up Right!

  • Wear the right size of supportive maternity bra. Make sure the straps are wide enough and the cups are big enough to avoid extra strain on your shoulders and ribcage.
  • Wear an abdominal support garment or maternity pants with wide support bands which fit under the belly.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothes during pregnancy as this can cause the blood flow to be restrained and may reduce the supply of oxygen to the muscles, which is another cause of back pain during pregnancy.
  • Avoid wearing high heels-stiletto fans, hear carefully! You need to discontinue them for a while; until your baby is delivered and in your arms! Doctors suggest wearing shoes with low heels and good support — though they are not optimal for fashion, but they are best when it comes to comfort and safety of you and your unborn child.

[ Read: How To Dress During Pregnancy ]

5. Acupuncture:

Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine which uses thin needles to stimulate certain points on your body to bring about relief from pregnancy back pain. Studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in relieving low back pain during pregnancy naturally!

6. Aromatherapy:

Relaxing in a warm bath with no more than two or three drops of lavender or ylang ylang essential oils may help ease muscle pain. However, lavender oil should be used only occasionally in your first trimester, as it may stimulate contractions.

[ Read: Safe Cardio Exercises During Pregnancy ]

7. Herbal Remedies:

Herbal remedies for backache such as devil’s claw should be used with extreme caution in pregnancy, as there’s not enough evidence that they are safe.

8. Apply Heat Or Ice:

Heating pads or ice packs may help temporarily reduce back pain. Massages can also be helpful for pregnant women who experience low back pain.

9. Think Good Thoughts:

A calm mind leads to a looser back. You can try some yoga and meditation which will relax both your mind and your back.

10. Nutritious Diet:

Keep your pregnancy weight gain manageable (extra weight is extra hard on any back).

A balanced, nutritious diet is an important aspect of a healthy pregnancy. Following a healthy diet, balancing carbohydrates, fat, and proteins, and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, usually ensures good nutrition.

Cut out caffeine entirely from your diet- it is a good, natural way to avoid back pain.

There’s no link between back pain and pregnancy outcome. Severe back pain may be related to pregnancy-associated osteoporosis, vertebral osteoarthritis, or septic arthritis; however, these are not common.

[ Read: Pregnancy Diet Chart ]

Exercises For Back Pain During Pregnancy

Check out here 8 effective pregnancy back pain exercises, that you can easily perform.

1. Cardiovascular Exercises:

Cardiovascular exercises, such as walking, swimming, and biking, are safe for pregnant ladies. Cardiovascular workouts increase your heart beat rate for a considerable period, which helps treat the back pain substantially. You can perform the exercises 20 to 45 minutes for three to five days every week. Ensure you perform cardiovascular exercises at a mild to moderate level without subjecting yourself to exhaustion.

[ Read: Safe Cardio Exercises During Pregnancy ]

2. Pelvic Tilts:

Pelvic tilts provide you relief from back pain during pregnancy. All you need to do is lie on your back, bend the knees with feet resting on the ground, and get your hands beneath your back. You will feel the space between your back and ground. Now, deflate your lower back against the ground. Pelvic tilt helps relax your buttocks, abdominal muscles and minimizes the back pain. (1)

3. Arm And Leg Raises:

Arm and leg raises are highly beneficial for your back muscles and buttocks and reduce pain in your back. All you need to do is kneel on your knees and hands keeping your spine straight and perform a pelvic tilt. Then lift your left leg and right arm to make a straight line with your spine. After a pause, lower your arm and leg slowly. Repeat the same exercise with the opposite arm and leg. If you find it bit difficult to perform this exercise for back pain during pregnancy, raise only arm or leg separately.

[ Read: Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy ]

4. Kegel Exercises:

Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and treat pain in your back. Sleep on your back and imagine pulling muscles of your vaginal area up and inwards towards your unborn baby. When performing Kegel exercises, you should not feel tightening sensation in thighs, abdomen, and buttocks. (2)

[ Read: Kegel Exercises During Pregnancy ]

5. Wall Squats:

Wall squats are safe and effective in minimizing back pain during pregnancy. Wall squats prominently work on the buttocks, abdominal, and thigh muscles. Stand with your back, shoulders, and head against a wall and your feet about one to two feet away. Press your lower back to the wall and squat with knees at a 90-degree angle. Keeping buttocks and back in touch with the wall and rise slowly. (3)

6. Back Stretch:

Back stretching is extremely beneficial to get rid of back pain. Perform back stretch with your hands and knees. Set your legs wide apart and hands in front of your head. To support your abdomen when performing the exercise, you can place a pillow under you. Finally, sit back on the knees and stretch arm in the forwards to feel the stretch in your spine.

7. Chest Stretch:

Stand with your back straight and head upright. Now clasp your hands at your back and gently stretch your arms up and down without leaning your neck and shoulders forward. The exercise will stretch your back, shoulders, and arms, and reduce the back pain substantially. (4)

[ Read: Safe Stretching Exercises During Pregnancy ]

8. Hamstring Stretch:

Hamstring stretch is one of the effective exercises for back pain during pregnancy, but you need to perform it slowly. Face a chair and step on it with one foot, keeping both feet and hips facing forward. Now straighten your back and try to bend forward gradually and stretch the back of your thigh. (5)

What to Avoid-A Quick Look

Here is a quick list of what to avoid in preventing back pain during pregnancy.

  • Walking fast
  • Walking for too long
  • Crossing legs
  • Sitting on the couch with knees rolled out
  • Lying on the back
  • Breast stroke kick when swimming

Pregnancy, for many good reasons, is considered a fragile time of a woman’s life. Health care providers use special precautionary measures to ensure the health of the growing foetus and the mother. For this reason, the symptoms associated with low back pain should not be neglected. If unaddressed, these symptoms can persist during pregnancy and affect the lifestyle and health of the patient postpartum. It is therefore vital that you understand the underlying issues of low back pain, including appropriate prevention and treatment options.

Pregnancy is a blessing and a happy moment for married couples. It is a period where the mother has to be cautious to protect her baby and bring it safely to the world.

[ Read: Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy ]

Every baby develops a little differently, even in the womb. The good news is that your baby is growing. That’s exactly what should be happening, but it can still be tough on your back! So take care of yourself and get rid of severe back pain during pregnancy!

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