How To Protect Your Back
You can protect your back during pregnancy by avoiding or changing the way you do some things. This becomes more important the further along in your pregnancy you are.
- Avoid heavy lifting. If you have to lift something heavy, bend your knees, keep your back straight and tighten your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. Make sure the object you are lifting stays close to your body. Allow toddlers to climb onto your lap or into the car or bath, and squat down next to them rather than picking them up.
- Always have a good posture. Try to keep your pelvis symmetrical. Stand with your weight evenly on both legs, your back straight and your pelvis tucked under. Avoid standing for a long time. Sit up straight with your bottom at the back of your chair and your feet on a stool if necessary.
- Avoid activities that might hurt your back. These include bending or twisting, climbing ladders, or walking up steep hills.
- Be careful in bed. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees. To get out of bed, roll onto your side with your knees together. Then use your arms for support as you swing your legs onto the floor.
- Wear shoes with low heels . These have good arch support. Avoid high heels.
- Consider a maternity support belt.
What Is Lumbar Back Pain During Pregnancy
Lumbar pain occurs in the area of the lumbar vertebrae in your lower back, higher on your body than posterior pelvic pain. It probably feels similar to the lower back pain you may have experienced before you were pregnant. You feel it over and around your spine approximately at waist level.
You also might have pain that radiates to your legs. Sitting or standing for long periods of time and lifting usually make it worse, and it tends to be more intense at the end of the day.
What Exercises I Can Do To Ease Backache When I Pregnant
The gentle exercises below may help ease backache in pregnancy.
Stretches for lower backache:
- sit with your bottom on your heels with your knees apart
- lean forward towards the floor, resting your elbows on the ground in front of you
- slowly stretch your arms forward
- hold for a few seconds
Stretches for middle backache:
- hold for a few seconds
- gently lower your back down as far as feels comfortable
Stretches for pain in the shoulder blades and upper back:
- sit on a firm chair
- brace your tummy muscles
- interlock your fingers and lift your arms overhead
- straighten your elbows and turn your palms upwards
- hold for a few seconds
If back pain persists, changes or becomes severe, see your doctor or midwife for advice. They may advise you to see a physiotherapist. At any stage, if the back pain is associated with any , seek medical advice urgently.
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Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
Once other causes for your pain are ruled out, your ob-gyn or other obstetric care provider may recommend that you see a rehabilitation specialist or a physical therapist. He or she also may recommend a maternity girdle or brace if you arent already using one.
Yes, exercises for the back can:
Strengthen and stretch the muscles that support your back and legs
Promote good posture
What Are Some Symptoms Of Back Pain During Pregnancy
The symptoms of back pain during pregnancy are very similar to the symptoms of back pain prior to pregnancy. Some of the symptoms include:
- Pain in the center of your back
- Pain above or at the sides of the waistline
- Pain over the pubic bone
- Pain in the buttocks or thighs
- Pain that can radiate to the legs
- Stiffness or discomfort after sitting or standing for long period of time
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Treatment For Early Back Pain During Pregnancy
No matter what stage of your pregnancy youre in, there are ways to treat back pain. You probably wont be able to prevent it completely, but you can help to minimize the pain.
Follow these tips for reducing back pain throughout your pregnancy.
If your back pain seems to be linked to your stress levels, things like meditation, prenatal yoga, and extra rest can all be helpful ways to manage your stress levels.
Treatments For Back Pain In Pregnancy
More good news: Unless you had chronic backaches before you got pregnant, your pain will likely ease gradually before you give birth.
Meanwhile, there are many things you can do to treat low back pain or make it rarer and milder:
- If you need to pick something up from the ground, use your legs to squat rather than bend over.
- Don’t wear high-heeled shoes. Choose low-heeled shoes with good arch support. Remember, as hormones loosen joints, you may need to buy a larger shoe size.
- Don’t sleep on your back.
- Wear support hose.
If your back pain persists, you may want to consult your doctor to see what else you might try. Be sure to consult your doctor before taking pain medications. Acetaminophen is safe for most women to take during pregnancy. Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen are not advised. In some cases, your doctor may recommend other pain medicines or muscle relaxants that are safe during pregnancy.
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Strengthen Your Back Muscles
Since your back is at risk, it makes sense to strengthen it. Starting early in your pregnancy, engage in light weight-lifting exercises that can help to strengthen your lower back.
Some examples are:
- Deadlifts: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Using light weights or even none at all, bend at your waist and allow your hands to hang toward the floor. Keep your core and pelvic floor tight, and maintain full control as you bend down and come back up. Deadlifts are also used by serious weightlifting competitors and are often done with heavy weights. If you are pregnant, remember to use light weights to avoid injury it doesnt take much to strengthen your lower back. Youre just trying to avoid back pain not win a weightlifting competition!
- Arm and leg lifts: Get on all fours on the floor. Slowly extend one leg back and then up, maintaining full control the whole time. If you are able, lift the opposite arm and point it straight out. However, if you feel uncomfortable or if you are not able to maintain your balance, omit the arms or do them separately.
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What You Need To Know About Sciatica During Pregnancy
Sciatica will most likely occur during the third trimester, when both you and your baby are bulking up . Most women typically experience pain just on one side, though you may feel it in both legs.
Sciatica can be constant or intermittent, depending on the amount of pressure placed on the nerve. Pain may increase as you put on more weight and retain more fluid.
And it can stick around for a few months or so after youve given birth, until youve shed the excess weight and fluid pressing on the nerve.
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Complementary And Alternative Medical Treatments Provide Added Pain
Safe pregnancy pain management techniques that may be used along with conventional medicine or as an alternative option include one or a combination of the following treatments2:
Research indicates favorable results for these therapies when used under the guidance of a trained medical professional.
Back pain during pregnancy affects the lower musculoskeletal system, causing excessive strain on the lower back, hip, pelvis, and legs. Women who follow appropriate treatment protocols and engage in back and core strengthening therapy during early pregnancy can avoid or reduce the severity of lower back pain.2
Risk Of Bias Assessment
The reviewers consensus assessment of the risk is detailed in Figure 2. The overall risk of bias across the studies was moderate. Most studies adequately stated the methods used for randomization and allocation concealment barring 4 RCTs . Blinding of participants and personnel was considered unclear in most studies barring low risk in only one study and high risk in 3 other studies . The blinding of outcome assessors was judged unclear risk in 17 studies and low risk in 12 studies . All trials barring one study were judged at low or unclear risk of attrition bias and selective reporting. Most studies were determined to be at unclear risk of other bias mainly due to lack of adequate details regarding blinding or outcome assessment. Finally, the overall bias was adjudged as low in 15 studies and as unclear in the remaining 14 studies.
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Sciatica During Pregnancy: Causes And Treatment
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, running from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the legs. This nerve can become pinched or irritated, causing pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can occur at any time during pregnancy, but is most common in the third trimester.
If you are pregnant, your back may experience back pain more frequently as a result of extra weight on the front of your body. It causes sharp, shooting pain in the buttocks or lower back and is radiates down the legs. If you have sciatica, you will experience pain that is dull, deep, or shooting. The pain can be managed and treated if necessary. As a result of the babys position in the uterus, the sciatic nerve may be irritated. The treatment for sciatica during pregnancy includes a variety of self-care remedies. Massage, stretching, gentle exercise, hot and cold therapy, and maternity support belts are all examples of massage and stretching.
Fortunately, most pregnant women will experience no sciatica symptoms for the majority of their pregnancies within the first few months. Lower back pain is still a problem for up to a third of moms three months after giving birth.
Relaxin levels in pregnant women rise as a result of increased activity. The hormone helps to relax ligaments and widen hips by preparing your hips for childbirth. The center of gravity shifts as your belly grows and ligaments loosen, which can cause you to have pinched or irritated sciatic nerves.
How Can You Prevent Or Minimize Back Pain During Pregnancy
Back pain may not be prevented completely, but there are things that you can do to reduce the severity or frequency.Here are a few steps you can take to help reduce the back pain you are experiencing:
- Use exercises approved by your health care provider that support and help strengthen the back and abdomen.
- Squat to pick up something instead of bending over.
- Avoid high heels and other shoes that do not provide adequate support.
- Avoid sleeping on your back.
- Wear a support belt under your lower abdomen.
- Consider having your back adjusted by a chiropractor.
- Get plenty of rest. Elevating your feet is also good for your back.
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How To Relieve Back Pain During Pregnancy While Sleeping
Physical changes during pregnancy have an enormous impact on how well and how long you sleep. But good sleep during pregnancy is so important for a healthy parent and a healthy baby. If pregnancy back pain is keeping you up at night, try this technique:
Sleep on your side and bend one or both knees. Place a pregnancy or support pillow between your knees and ankles. This lifts your knees up to be level with your hips, reducing the strain on your lower back. Place a vertical pillow under your belly and upper body to support your chest and arm.
A full-body pillow also works very well to create an ideal sleeping posture that supports your body in all the right places to ease the strain on your back.
Physical Therapy And Exercise
Your healthcare provider or a physical therapist can recommend exercises to strengthen your low back and reduce pain. Regular exercise can strengthen the muscles of your low back, boost flexibility, and reduce the stress on the spine.
Safe exercises during pregnancy include walking, swimming, cycling, and low-impact aerobic exercises .
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Using A Lumbar Roll Helps Avoid Pregnancy Back Pain While Sitting
Using ergonomically supported posture while sitting for extended periods can help decrease the frequency and intensity of back pain.
- Sitting up straight and aligning the ears, shoulders, and hips in a vertical line is recommended.
- Using a lumbar roll in the small of the back can help support the spinal curvature.1
- This roll may also help reduce pelvic pain that occurs from a sit-to-stand position.1
- Inflatable lumbar rolls are best suited for pregnant women to accommodate the change in body size and posture.1
Taking short breaks every hour and briefly stretching or walking a short distance is typically recommended.
Find The Proper Shoes
You may be a fashion maven who receives regular compliments on your pregnancy style, but if you’re wearing high-fashion shoes, you’re not doing your back any favors. “High heels increase the curvature of your back and create pressure” that drives the weight of your growing uterus directly into your lower spine and hip joints, says Dr. Rosser. You may also lose your balance , and heels may cause you to be less stable.
But walking in flats isn’t the answer either, as they can leave your feet, which tend to spread during pregnancy because of hormonal changes, unsupported. Poor foot position can manifest itself as imbalance and pain all the way up your legs and back.
To get the best supportâand to relieve the most pressureâDr. Rosser advises a low-heeled shoe that is comfortable with either built-in arch support or an orthotic insert. The slight rise of the low heel will help distribute the weight that’s on your legs in a more stable and back-supportive way.
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Strengthen Your Abdominal Muscles
Sit-ups arent exactly a pregnancy-friendly exercise. To strengthen your abdominal muscles, do the following exercises a few days a week. Remember that lightweight is recommended, and you should never push yourself too hard during pregnancy.
Simply using and moving your muscles will help to strengthen them sufficiently.
- Abdominal twists: Place your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees so you are in a half-squat. Do not squat too deeply, and if you feel any discomfort, make your squat more shallow. Holding a lightweight in each hand against your chest, twist at the waist from side to side. Do not wildly swing your body, but instead maintain control and squeeze your abdominal muscles as you twist back and forth.
- Upper cuts: Standing again in a partial-squat position with light weights, make an upper-cut punching motion while twisting slightly at the waist. Keep your abs tight. You can also do this exercise without weights.
- Knee lifts: Stand up with your hands on your hips. Raise your knee in a slow and controlled motion, making sure you are lifting with your abdominals. If you can do so comfortably, crunch forward slightly as your knee comes up to work your abs harder. If you have trouble with balance, you can do this exercise while standing against a wall.
Remember to always consult with your doctor before attempting these exercises and make sure you do not have any risk factors that could prevent you from performing these exercises.
How Early Does Back Pain Start In Pregnancy
Studies show that lower back pain usually occurs between the fifth and seventh months of being pregnant, although in some cases it begins as early as eight to 12 weeks. Women with pre-existing lower back problems are at higher risk for back pain, and their back pain can occur earlier in their pregnancy.
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Tips For Getting In And Out Of Bed With Back Pain
- Try to avoid lying flat for long periods of time. Its better for your back and your baby to lie on your side.
- You may find it more comfortable to have a pillow under your bump or between your knees to support your back. This can help yousleep better, too.
- Some women find pregnancy pillows can help, but they can be pricey. You may find a normal pillow does the trick.
- If you are getting pain in your hip from lying on your side, it may help to place a duvet under your sheet or use a memory-foam topper for a softer mattress.
Getting in and out of bed can get more difficult as your bump gets bigger. To take the strain off your back, try rolling onto your side moving your shoulders, hips and knees at the same time. Let your legs ease off the edge of the bed and put your feet on the floor. At the same time, use your arms to push yourself up to a sitting position.
Doing this all as one movement can be more comfortable. Try the movement backwards to get back into bed.
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