Back pain is one of the most common complaints amongst pregnant women. It is quite normal as this is also a sign that your baby is growing. As your child is growing inside you, they stretch your body to prepare you for labor.
The added weight also takes a toll on the back muscles and pelvic joints. Hence, backache is a common pregnancy phenomenon. Back pain is generally encountered during the second half of pregnancy at around 4 months.
To help you be prepared and deal with gestational backache, this article outlines its causes, preventive measures, and remedies.
What Causes Back Pain?
According to pain specialists like Dr. Hassun and numerous proven studies, backaches during pregnancy usually occur where the spine meets the pelvis. There are 5 main causes of back pain.
Alterations in Posture
The center gravity of a pregnant woman changes as the baby develops in the womb. The adjustment of the posture and movement occurs involuntarily and is often unnoticed. The curve in the lower back increases and can widen the woman’s stance. These shifts can strain the back muscles and result in back pain.
Increase in Weight
A healthy pregnant individual generally has a weight gain of around 30 pounds. The increase in weight occurs due to the expansion of the uterus and the development of the fetus. The spine has to bear this additional weight.
Moreover, the growing baby exerts pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in the back and pelvis. The lower back and abdomen muscles get strained by the added pressure and mass.
During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone known as relaxin. Relaxin relaxes the pelvic ligaments and loosens the joints. This hormone prepares the body for the birthing process. However, this same chemical can loosen the ligaments that support the spine. As a result, pain and loss of physical stability occur.
Separation of Muscles
There are two sheets of muscles parallel to each other. These muscles are present in the abdomen that run from the torso to the pubic bone. These bands of muscles aid in lumbar support and stabilize the spine.
When the uterus enlarges during pregnancy, the muscle bands sometimes separate. This dissociation can make the back pain worse. This painful condition is known as the diastasis recti. It allows more space for the growing baby. The abdominal muscles become weaker as they get stretched by the expanding fetus.
The body of a person in gestation goes through numerous changes. Pregnancy is an exciting period but also gives rise to multiple sources of stress. The hormonal changes also elevate emotional stress that can stiffen the back muscles. This results in erratic back spasms and backaches.
How to Ease the Back Pain
To ease the discomfort caused by the gestational backache, you can practice certain activities and control the pain.
A pregnant woman’s back muscles are already bearing the additional weight and pressure. Slouching will worsen the condition and increase the strain on the back. Hence, it is recommended for the mother to avoid slouching.
It is ideal to use a pillow for support and a footrest to relax your feet for long hours of sitting. If the person has to stand for a prolonged period of time, it is best to wear a support belt to ease the weight. You can also rest one foot on a box or an elevated platform.
It is ideal for the expectant mother to position a pillow between the knees to reduce the pressure on the lower back when sleeping on the side.
The feet also have to support the ascending weight. Hence it is best to avoid heels. Compression stockings can be worn to avoid the pooling of blood in the legs.
Wear comfortable footwear that is breathable. The soles should have the proper arch support. The liners inside the shoes should be flexible and soft. The heels should be small and comfortable.
The shoes should be lightweight. It is strongly advised to get shoes at least a half size bigger. Your feet will enlarge to support the weight, and your old footwear will be too small for your pregnant feet. Purchase footwear a size bigger beforehand.
It is best for pregnant women to avoid lifting objects. If you have to lift something heavy, step closer to the object and bend your knees. You need to be in a squat position to maintain a straight back. Lift the object after securing the squat pose.
Lift slowly and breathe properly while doing so. Avoid picking up objects by bending forward from the waist. This will worsen the back pain and cause more strain.
Prenatal massage therapies are known to reduce general discomfort. The massages help the mother relax. They also relieve the pain caused by sore muscles, including the back. One of the most preferred massage therapies is the Swedish Massage.
This therapy aims to relieve the tension in the muscles. It also aims to enhance blood and lymphatic circulation via the gentle pressure applied to various body muscles. The general discomfort is reduced significantly with this massage.
Prenatal workouts and stretches can ease back pain. However, consult with your doctor to decide which exercises are safe. Light yoga, swimming, and cycling on a stationary bike are considered safe. Opt for pregnant-friendly workouts that aim to strengthen the back muscles.
They also strengthen the muscles and reduce muscle strain. A light walk in the park will also do. Regular light exercise also reduces labor pain and makes the birthing process run smoothly.
When to Call the Doctor
If you are experiencing unbearable pain, call the doctor immediately. Go to the emergency unit of the hospital immediately when you encounter any form of abdominal bleeding. Reach out to the doctor if there is vaginal bleeding, irregular vaginal discharge, and fever.
Back pain is inevitable for an expecting mother. It is best to be aware of this condition and take preventive measures to reduce its effects. Knowing how to relieve the pain beforehand can make it easier to deal with the pain more readily.