Back pain in pregnancy is extremely common due to the hormonal changes and growth that your body is experiencing. Women will start to feel this back pain usually in the second part of their pregnancy. It can be a nagging pain that hinders your pregnancy journey. It’s important to find the right treatments to help alleviate any pain that you’re feeling.
While back pain in pregnancy is common, there might be a few different things that are causing it:
In your pregnancy, you can expect to gain up to 25 and 35 pounds. This is a large amount to be added to your current weight. It’s no wonder that you are experiencing back pain with this extra load!
As your spine has to support the extra weight gain, it can cause pain in the lower back. Adding to that, the weight of your baby and uterus will put pressure on the blood vessels and nerves surrounding the pelvis and back.
The way in which you carry yourself will play a large role in your back pain. Seeing as you’re carrying heavier in the front, it may cause your posture to curve and therefore add pressure on the spine.
This posture change with pregnancy will also shift your centre of gravity. With the extra weight in the front, it’s only natural for your body to shape its gravity accordingly.
Stress is a common cause for back pain and not just in pregnancy. Stress stirs up emotions and tension in the system. The extra tension will cause your muscles to cramp up and stimulate back pain.
Back pain spurred on by stress will become apparent throughout the tense pregnancy periods.
Along with many of the changes that your body will go through, your hormones will change in your pregnancy too. For the duration of your pregnancy, your body will release hormones that will assist with the birth. These hormones help the ligaments and joins in your pelvis to relax and soften.
Although this is great for labour, it isn’t so ideal for your back pain. In your first trimester, you might notice an increase of back pain. This is caused by the influx of hormones throughout your body during this period. It will affect the normal support of your body and cause pain.
Muscle separation, or diastasis, can largely contribute to back pain in your pregnancy. As your uterus expands with your growing baby, your muscles may start to change their form. Two parallel sheets of muscles, known as the rectus abdominis muscles, are most likely to separate.
The separation of these muscles may worsen back pain as it alters your normal support structure.
Now that we’ve established what may be causing your back pain, there are a few ways for you to treat it. Finding the right treatment for you will make your pregnancy a lot easier if you have the correct support structure. The good news is that your back pain will gradually ease up before you give birth. Until then, try our tips to alleviate back pain in pregnancy:
Your trusty chiropractor might just be the solution you’re looking for. One of the main benefits of seeing a chiropractor is that they will be able to realign your body. With all of the changes going on in your body, it’s important to re-centre it and find its centre to help with your back pain.
Seeing a chiropractor will also help you prepare your body for birth. Chiropractic manipulation can help open up your pelvis in preparation for labour.
While seeing a chiropractor is completely safe, it’s advised that you consult your medical practitioner before starting your treatment. Your doctor can advise on if it’s safe for you to go ahead or not.
As your baby grows, your centre of gravity leans toward the front. In order to try and balance this out, it’s a natural instinct to lean back. However, this is going to add more strain to your lower back muscles. Keeping a good posture can help correct your centre of gravity and take off the pressure from your back.
Try to do the following to help with your posture:
If you are standing for long periods of time, opt for a wider stance or rest one foot on a lower step tool. Don’t forget to keep your posture in mind when you’re sitting - keep a small pillow behind your lower back for optimal posture. The way that you sleep will also impact your posture. Try sleeping on your side to take the pressure off of your lower back.
Back pain in pregnancy requires a little TLC. Even the smallest of movements can be contributing to your back pain. Just lifting items off of the ground can impact the amount of pressure you’re feeling in your back.
When you lift items from the ground, make sure to lift with your knees and not your back. Rather squat down and use the power in your legs. Try to not bend by the waist or lift with your back.
If you’re still wearing high heels in your pregnancy, you might want to reconsider your shoe choices. Wearing high heels can further shift your balance forward and put more pressure on your back.
Instead, wear low-heeled shoes that have good arch support. The trick is to not have flat shoes as the heel can help ground your gravity.
Light and simple exercise can help get the joints moving and blood flowing in your body. This helps the circulation in your muscles and alleviate any pressure in your back. Exercise like yoga is great for finding the best posture and stretching any sore muscles.
With many factors contributing to your back pain, making the smallest of changes can help with the pain. From simple posture changes to a more hands on approach from your chiropractor, your body will thank you for the help!
Dr Beverley (MBChB, MRCGP) is a qualified GP. She works in a GP practice in Manchester and also helps in the out of hours GP service. She has experience in both obstetrics & gynaecology and paediatrics and has three children of her own.
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