Pregnancy should be a time of joy and anticipation of the new arrival but unfortunately, for more than ⅔ of all women, pregnancy is full of discomfort and back pain. And it’s no wonder―pregnancy increases your weight changing your center of gravity, causes fatigue, muscle strain, and hormonal changes, all of which can lead to back pain, or exacerbate pre-existing back issues.
Common Types of Back Pain
The two most common types of back pain that occur during pregnancy are Lumbar and Posterior Pelvic Pain. They usually begin to appear during the 5th to 9th month, but can start much earlier, especially if you’ve previously experienced recurring back pain.
Lumbar back pain affects the lower back and often occurs during prolonged intervals of sitting, standing or lifting. The pain can radiate into the leg, a condition called sciatica, and can be caused by a herniated disc. Fortunately, it only occurs in 1% of pregnant women. Sciatica will be a severe pain in your leg and numbness in the toes and if you experience this, it should be discussed with your OB/GYN.
Posterior Pelvic Pain
This is the more common of the two. The pain is usually located below the waist to one side or across the tailbone and can go down the buttock area and upper thighs. It typically occurs when climbing stairs, getting up from a seated position, twisting the body, lifting things, running, and walking.
Aside from body positions and a change in center of gravity, back pain can be caused by hormonal changes in your body. These changes often cause joint laxity, or loosening of the joints. An increase in weight puts added stress on muscles and joints which now have to work harder, and with abdominal muscles being stretched and weakened during pregnancy, the back is left to do a lot of the work.
Stress can be a huge contributor to back pain, along with high blood pressure, problems sleeping, and headaches. High blood pressure has been known to result in an increase in the number of premature births and low birth weight.
Back pain can also be caused by the position of the baby. Your little bundle of joy could be pressing on a nerve, causing discomfort or pain.
The good news is that there are many ways that you can relieve back pain during pregnancy or avoid it altogether. By being mindful of your movements and habits, you can make a few small changes that will make a big difference.
Use proper posture. This is good advice for everyone, not just those who are pregnant. Stand straight with your chest out and shoulders back and don’t lock your knees. When sitting, use a chair that has good back support and sit with your feet flat on the floor. If you don’t have a good lumbar chair, a small pillow behind your lower back will suffice.
Don’t wear heels. Or flats! Wear shoes that have good arch support. They will help improve your posture and reduce fatigue as well.
Sleep on your side with your knees bent. Pregnancy support pillows are concave foam pillows that are put between the knees to help keep the spine straight and support the pelvis.
Lift the right way. Avoid heavy lifting but when you do need to lift something, squat and lift with your legs.
Appropriate Exercise. Walking is a low-impact exercise that can help strengthen muscles and alleviate pain. Swimming is also a great way to get exercise while giving your muscles and joints a little relief from the effects of gravity.
Stretching. Consult with your OB/GYN or chiropractor to learn proper stretching techniques, such as pelvic tilts, to do daily while you’re pregnant that will strengthen your back.
Get plenty of rest. Take the time to sit and put your feet up every now and then and give your body a break.
Keep your OB/GYN informed. Back pain can be a sign of early labor or a UTI so it’s important to keep your OB/GYN up to date on any issues. If there’s bleeding or a burning sensation, call your doctor right away.
It is perfectly safe to see a chiropractor while pregnant, and in fact, chiropractic care is quite beneficial for pregnant women and their babies. Chiropractors are trained in treating women who are pregnant safely and perform routine treatments for pregnancy wellness. Chiropractic care is for pregnant women isn’t merely for back pain relief. A misaligned pelvis can interfere with natural childbirth which could lead to the need for a c-section. Keeping the spine aligned is important for your overall health and wellbeing which is good for your baby as well.
Chiropractors can provide soft tissue adjustments and stabilization exercises which will help your body deal with the changes in its center of gravity. They’re also purveyors of pain relief without dangerous drugs that could adversely affect your baby and can show you techniques for managing your pain during the pregnancy and childbirth.
As always, at North County Pain Relief, we take a holistic approach to your care, without the need for invasive surgeries or addictive pain medications. Chiropractic care during pregnancy can contribute to a healthier pregnancy, can alleviate nausea, reduce labor and delivery time, reduce pain, and possibly avoid the need for a c-section.
If you’re pregnant and are experiencing back pain or if you’d like to hear about how we can help with the wellness of your pregnancy, call North County Pain Relief at (314) 731-4201.