- What are the reasons for postpartum back pain?
- How long does postpartum back pain last?
- How to get relief from back pain post delivery?
- When to call a doctor?
- Frequently asked questions
It is there throughout your pregnancy, during your delivery, and even after that. If you thought that you could get freedom from back pain after delivery, then you’d be disappointed to know that it is likely to last beyond that point.
What Are The Reasons For Postpartum Back Pain?
Postpartum back pain can be a result of various physical changes that your body undergoes during pregnancy and the tremendous physical stress during delivery.
Here are the reasons for backache post delivery:
- The body releases progesterone and relaxin hormones during pregnancy to loosen the ligaments and joints of the pelvic bone to help the baby come out with ease (1). The weak ligaments and muscles lead to back pain. These hormones stay raised for a few months post delivery.
- Having a wrong posture, especially while breastfeeding, can strain the muscles, causing backache.
- As the uterus expands during pregnancy, it weakens the abdominal muscles and pulls the lower spine forward, putting pressure on the lower back muscles.
- Being overweight puts extra pressure on your back.
- The delivery process stresses the lower back, and it takes time to recover.
- Bending frequently for lifting your baby or for something else results in back pain.
- If you had back pain before and during pregnancy, it is likely to continue postpartum as well.
- Physically taxing work might also lead to back pain.
[ Read: Postpartum Fatigue ]
It is not encouraging to know that your pregnancy pains will persist even after your delivery. But you might find solace in knowing the time-frame for them to subside.
How Long Does Postpartum Back Pain Last?
Typically, the back pain subsides within six months after delivery. By then, the level of relaxin hormone settles down and the body gets back to normal.
As the muscles get toned, joints are tightened and your body regains strength, the back pain wanes. However, in some cases, the pain persists for about 12 months owing to heavy physical activities by the new mother (2).
But, it doesn’t mean that you have to reel under the pain for so long. You may take some measures to get relief.
17 Ways To Get Relief From Back Pain Post Delivery
Back pain after childbirth ranges from mild to severe, and it differs from person to person. The pain will subside gradually as your body gets back to normal. Meanwhile, you may use these simple tips to relieve the back pain post-pregnancy:
- Make efforts to get back to your normal weight after a month or so post delivery. Take the right diet to maintain an ideal weight.
[ Read: Post Pregnancy Diet ]
- Start exercising or do yoga after childbirth as it helps in improving the health of the strained muscles and ligaments (3). Also, it helps increase the flexibility and endurance. Walking is a safe exercise to start with if you have had a C-section. Later, you can opt for swimming as it helps in strengthening your muscles.
- You may also do some pelvic tilts. Here is how you can do them:
- Lie on your back. Bend the knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Breathe in and let your belly expand.
- Breathe out keeping your hips on the floor and bring your tailbone towards the belly button. Tighten your buttocks and release.
- Repeat it 8-10 times.
Note: If you have had a C-section, then wait for at least six weeks before you start with this exercise.
[ Read: Yoga After c Section ]
- Take rest as much as possible as strenuous physical activities will aggravate your pain.
- Do not lift heavy things after delivery as it can put pressure on your muscles and joints.
- Maintain a proper posture while sitting. Avoid leaning towards your baby while breastfeeding and instead sit with an upright back. If you have pain in your shoulder or upper back while breastfeeding, then lie on your side to feed your baby comfortably.
- Choose a comfortable chair for sitting, with a lot of pillows to support your back. Also, use a footstool to keep your feet slightly raised from the floor, to mitigate the lower back pain.
- Avoid wearing high-heel footwear for a few months after delivery.
- Avoid carrying the baby on one hip for a longer time because it puts constant pressure on the back muscles. Use a front pack to carry your baby.
- Avoid stretching your arms while picking your baby. Instead, get closer to your baby and then lift.
- Sleep in a comfortable position and use pillows for support.
- While placing your child in the back seat of the car do not bend or stretch your arms. Instead, kneel down on the back seat and place your baby in the car seat.
- To pick up anything from the floor, bend at your knees rather than bending at the waist, to minimize the strain on your back.
- Have warm water baths as they help in relaxing strained muscles and muscle pains. Avoid bathing in cold water soon after delivery as it can strain your muscles.
- Get an oil massage done from a professional masseur once in a while. It helps improve blood circulation and offers great relief.
- Use a hot water bag or a cold pack to alleviate the pain.
- For mild to moderate back pain, a pain relief ointment works well. Gently apply it on the area to get instant relief.
- Practicing relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation therapy (4) and breathing exercises help ease the discomfort of back pain.
If the pain does not subside with the above steps, then visit your doctor. They may prescribe you medication for short-term relief.
[ Read: Exercising After C-Section ]
When To Call A Doctor?
Usually, the back pain resolves itself after a few month post delivery. But, you must call a doctor if:
- The pain is severe and gets worse gradually
- It is accompanied by a fever
- Pain is caused by trauma such as a fall
- There is numbness in one or both the legs
- You suddenly feel uncoordinated
- If the back pain persists even after six months
It might not be easy to live with the pain when you already have a lot to take care of. Your newborn and their well-being will be top most priority to you, but you need to take time to focus on yourself and your health.
While we have extensively covered about the measures you can take to get relief, you might have a few more questions on back pain after delivery. So, here we answer them.
Frequently asked questions:
1. Does epidural cause back pain after delivery?
A study was carried out to find the correlation between epidural/spinal anesthesia (administered during delivery) and postpartum back pain. It has found that epidurals do not lead to back pain post pregnancy (5). There is an increased risk of lower back pain only on the first day after delivery (6).
2. Why do you feel more pain at night than during the day?
Straining your lower back muscles during the daytime with activities such as bending constantly, lifting heavy objects, or having a bad posture can intensify a backache at night. Moreover, these activities will cause the joints to swell and exasperate. This is the reason the pain could be more during the night.
What did you try to sooth the back pain post delivery? Let us know in the comment section.
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