Pregnancy is incredible. However, along with a growing bundle of joy, many women experience a variety of aches and pains. Pregnancy related back pain is often at the top of the list. In fact, according to the American Pregnancy Association, up to seventy percent of all pregnant women experience some degree of back pain while pregnant. Thankfully, they don’t have to suffer through it in silence. There are safe, effective treatment options to help ease back pain associated with pregnancy.
It’s possible for back pain to present at any stage of pregnancy. However, most women experience significant back pain later on in their pregnancy. This happens because the baby gets bigger and causes a shift in gravity. It also becomes increasingly more difficult to accomplish tasks that were once easy. The change in the center of gravity, along with the growing belly itself makes a number of things more difficult, such as:
When you’re unable to do things as you normally would, you compromise. This is also true for pregnant women. Months of compromising the way you bend, sit, stand, and more really takes its toll on your spine. The additional weight gained during pregnancy is also a major factor in pregnancy related back pain. Muscles are forced to work harder and in new ways and your spine suffers for it.
Even changes in hormones can contribute to pregnancy-related back pain. Hormones release over the course of your pregnancy. They soften the ligaments in the pelvis and hips to allow pregnant mothers to give birth more easily. However, the hormones don’t just target these ligaments. They affect the joints throughout your body. This leads to less support for your back, shoulders, and neck.
Not only are pregnant women at the mercy of weight gain, an shift in their center of gravity, and limited mobility, but to top it all off, the support their spine once depended on is significantly diminished. It’s no wonder that most pregnant women experience some degree of back pain.
Pregnancy related back pain can also be aggravated by stress, physical, mental, and emotional. Many women work through their pregnancy and experience job related stress. Sitting in a chair or standing for long stretches of time may also result in back pain.
During pregnancy, abdominal muscles stretch and weaken due to the growing baby. The weakening of these muscles can also impact your back in a negative way. You no longer have the strong core that you had before pregnancy. This means the muscles in your back have to compensate for what your abdominal muscles can no longer accomplish.
It’s important that you discuss and pregnancy related back pain with your doctor. They’ll evaluate your situation and advise if the pain is normal or something more concerning. There are a few conditions which present as back pain and it’s important to rule them out. For example, back pain can be an indication of a urinary tract infection or pre-term labor.
After your doctor rules out other health concerns and dubs your pain as pregnancy related back pain, there are ways to ease your discomfort. The first thing to focus on is practicing good posture. It’s also a good idea to skip the high heels and wear low-heeled shoes with good arch support.
Sleeping on your side with one or both knees bent and a pillow between your knees or supporting the upper knee will help relieve pressure on both your back and your hips. You may also want to try placing a pillow between your belly and the bed or behind your back. Many women prefer to use pregnancy support pillows to ease discomfort and get a better night of rest.
Your OB may refer you to a chiropractor. Chiropractic care is a safe, effective way to ease pregnancy related back pain. It can help you find relief while avoiding some potentially dangerous medications. A chiropractor manipulates the spine to ensure proper alignment and ease back pain. Benefits include:
A chiropractor can also assist with pelvic alignment and balance. A misaligned pelvis can be painful and lead to complications. Chiropractors may also have suggestions for stretches and low-impact exercises you can do at home to help relieve back pain between appointments.