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How to Relieve Back Pain during Pregnancy

John V. Tiberi';

By John V. Tiberi

Posted on December 10th, 2019 in Spine

Back Pain while PregnantIt is very common to get back pain during pregnancy. In fact, 50 to 70 percent of pregnant women experience this type of pain during pregnancy.

Some women are more at risk to experience back pain while pregnant; however, there are things that can help reduce the severity or frequency of pain.

Back pain associated with pregnancy is related to quite a few factors, such as hormonal, mechanical and other. In some cases, back pain can begin with the onset of pregnancy. But usually, pain tends to arise between the fifth and seventh month of being pregnant.

Women who are most at risk for back pain during pregnancy are those who had pre-existing lower back problems or are overweight.

Here is a list of potential causes of backache in pregnancy:

  • Hormonal changes. Hormones released during pregnancy, especially the hormone relaxin, allow ligaments in the pelvic area to soften and the joints in the lower back, hips, knees, and ankles to become looser in preparation for the birthing process. These loosened joints and ligaments may affect the support a woman's back normally experiences.
  • Weight gainWeight gain in healthy pregnant women can be on, an average, 25-35lbs, an extra weight that the spine must support. The developing pregnancy and baby also strain muscles and put added pressure on the lower back and legs and the nerves in these regions. 
  • Posture or position. As the uterus and baby grow, a woman’s center of gravity can tilt forward. This can cause the posture to change and the curve in the lower back to increase. Changes in posture can cause a pregnant woman to walk differently and the extra weight may also cause a change in the arch of the foot. The pain experienced can be triggered or escalated by poor posture, excessive standing, and bending over.

Preventing Back Pain during Pregnancy 

  • Exercise: Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, most exercises - including swimming and prenatal yoga - are safe to perform while pregnant. 
  • Ask for help if you can't safely lift a heavy item: If you must lift an object, don’t lift by bending forward from the waist. Instead, move in close to the object, bend your knees and hips to squat down, keep your back straight and when you lift, straighten your legs.
  • Take good care of your feet: Avoid wearing high heels or flats or other shoes with poor arch support. Some women wear compression stockings to keep their legs from getting tired and achy. 
  • Monitor your posture: Don’t add pressure to your back by slouching while sitting. Use a support pillow for your lower back curve, and put your feet up an ottoman, footrest, or stool. If you stand for long periods, try using a pregnancy support belt or rest one foot on a box or stool. When sleeping on a side, place a supportive pillow between your legs to relieve tension and tightness on your lower back.    
  • Acupuncture: This integrative therapy, in combination with conventional therapies, is an effective treatment for back pain associated with pregnancy.
  • Chiropractic care and massage: If you are not finding relief, consider having your back adjusted by a chiropractor. Treatment performed by a licensed chiropractor can be an effective and safe solution for back pain. Prenatal massages can also help soothe strained back muscles.
  • Heat and cold compresses: Using cold or heat applications are simple therapies, but they can greatly relieve the back pain. Be careful, it's important to not apply ice or heat to the abdomen.
  • Stress reduction: Muscle tension in the back can be increased by emotional stress. If you’re stressed, consider trying meditation, talking to a counselor, or taking a stress-reduction class.

To sum up, a woman's body undergoes many changes during pregnancy, but there are also many safe ways to decrease and avoid pain so that you can focus on your coming baby.