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How To Help Lower Back Pain While Pregnant

When To Seek Treatment From A Doctor

How to relieve low back pain while pregnant

Back pain, by itself, usually is not a reason to call your doctor. But you should call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Increasingly severe pain or pain that begins abruptly
  • Rhythmic cramping pains
  • Difficulty urinating or âpins and needlesâ in your extremities

In rare cases, severe back pain may be related to problems such as pregnancy-associated osteoporosis, vertebral osteoarthritis, or . Rhythmic pains may be a sign of preterm labor. So if you are experiencing any of these problems, it’s important to be checked by your doctor.

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How To Relieve Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy

Before we dive into helping lower back pain during pregnancy, let me introduce myself. Hi, Im Hannah! I work in the marketing department at Chirp and YES, I am pregnant! So, you could say that Im a reliable candidate to write this blog .

Heres a little background: Im currently 25 weeks prego and I hear this phrase almost every single day, You dont even look pregnant! And its true. Im hardly popping out, even though Im over halfway to the finish line. Its because my sweet baby boy loves to hang out close to my spine and you can only imagine the lower back pain during pregnancy I am experiencing! Let me share my personal tips and tricks on how to help it:

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.

  • Focus on maintaining good posture when youre seated or standing. Stand straight, with your chest high, and your shoulders back and relaxed.
  • Try to avoid standing for long periods of time. If youre on your feet a lot, try resting one foot on an elevated surface.
  • If you need to pick something up, remember to squat instead of bending at the waist.
  • Avoid lifting heavy things.
  • Wear sensible shoes that offer support.
  • Try sleeping on your side, not your back, with pillows tucked beneath your belly and between your knees for gentle support.
  • Practice pregnancy-safe exercises designed to strengthen and support your abdomen and back.
  • As your abdomen grows, consider wearing a supportive garment or belt to help take some of the pressure off your back.
  • Research local chiropractors who specialize in pregnancy-related care and learn more about how an adjustment can help relieve back pain.
  • When seated, try to elevate your feet and make sure your chair offers good back support. Use a lumbar pillow for additional low back support.
  • Try to get plenty of rest.
  • 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.

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    Avoiding Backache In Pregnancy

    There are several things you can do to help prevent backache from happening, and to help you cope with an aching back if it does occur.

    It is important to avoid lifting heavy objects. When lifting or picking up something from the floor, be sure to bend your knees and keep your back straight.

    These tips listed here can also help you to protect your back try to remember them every day:

    • move your feet when turning around to avoid twisting your spine
    • wear flat shoes as these allow your weight to be evenly distributed
    • work at a surface high enough to prevent you stooping
    • try to balance the weight between two bags when carrying shopping
    • sit with your back straight and well supported
    • avoid standing or sitting for long periods
    • make sure you get enough rest, particularly later in pregnancy
    • try to have good posture

    A firm mattress can also help to prevent and relieve backache. If your mattress is too soft, put a piece of hardboard under it to make it firmer.

    Some other activities that may help ease your back pain include:

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    Safety Tips For Exercising While Pregnant:

    Surprisingly Common Culprits for Back Pain during Pregnancy
    • After your first trimester, avoid exercising while lying flat on your back.
    • This position causes the uterus to put pressure on a major vein called the inferior vena cava, which pumps blood back to your heart. Impeding this blood flow can make you dizzy, short of breath or nauseated.
  • Exercise in a safe environment and avoid uneven terrain. As you gain weight during pregnancy, your center of gravity will shift and can affect your sense of balance.
  • Wear supportive shoes.
  • Avoid over-heating and drink water before, during and after exercise.
  • Do not exercise to the point of exhaustion. If you cannot talk while exercising, slow down the activity or take small breaks.
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    Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All

  • What if the back pain is not caused by an infection or preterm labor?

    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.

  • Can exercise help with back pain?

    Yes, exercises for the back can:

  • Strengthen and stretch the muscles that support your back and legs

  • Promote good posture

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    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:

    More tips:

    • 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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    When Does Back Pain During Pregnancy Start And End

    Unfortunately, back pain can start fairly early on in your pregnancy. Some women experience it in the first trimester, but for many women, back pains starts up around week 18, early in the second trimester. It can persist or sometimes worsen as the second trimester progresses and especially in the third trimester, up until you give birth .

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    Low back pain that’s worse when you’re standing but eases once you sit or lie down is considered normal during pregnancy. But talk to your doctor if the pain starts to radiate down your legs into your calves or feet interferes with daily activities or is associated with other symptoms such as fever, chills, weight loss, weakness, or sensory issues.

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    Reasons For Back Pain In Pregnancy

    Back pain can occur during any trimester, though it frequently arises in later months as the babyand your bellygrows. The pain can be mild or severe, and it often occurs in the lower back. Some women have greater odds going into pregnancy, such as women who are overweight and those who already have back problems.

    You dont have to have pre-existing back problems, however. Pregnancy itself changes your body in ways that can lead to back pain. For example, as your uterus becomes heavier, extra strain is placed on your back muscles, which can alter your posture and cause discomfort.

    Pregnancy changes your center of gravity and accentuates the curve in the lower back, Dr. Meyer explains. Weak abdominal muscles and core strength will make the back curvature changes worse, since these muscles stabilize your back. This, in turn, can cause pain.

    But thats not all. When youre pregnant, your body releases a hormone called relaxin that loosens ligamentsthe tissue that connects bones to each otherin your pelvis. This loosening can affect back support and contribute to pain.

    Other reasons women experience back pain during pregnancy includebut are not limited tostress, poor posture, too much standing, injury and trauma.

    Perform Progressive Muscle Relaxation

    With the amount of stress that can accompany pregnancy, its no wonder mind-body techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation have been shown in studies to be effective for reducing low back pain during pregnancy. Start by laying in a comfortable position with relaxing music playing in the background. Tense the muscles in your feet for a few seconds and then release, simultaneously relaxing all other muscle groups in your body. Continue in the same manner for about 15 to 20 minutes in the calf, thigh, gluteal muscles, abdomen, chest, hands, forearms, shoulders, neck, face, and finally the forehead.

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    Strap On A Maternity Belt

    If you have pelvic girdle pain around your middle lower back and hips, a maternity belt may relieve your pain. This support garment does the work of the ligaments, muscles and fascia of the girdle area, explains Richter. But, she cautions, it should not be worn all of the time, because those muscles will stop working and will need to be retrained after you have your baby. I usually recommend that clients wear them during more taxing activitiessuch as activities with lots of bending, lifting, walking or standingjust so theyre not in discomfort, she explains. And then I give them exercises to try and resolve the issue.

    Mickeler warns against wearing the belts too tightly, which can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse. Because of this, its best to have a practitioner guide you on how to use one.

    Read more:

    How To Treat Or Ease Back Pain During Pregnancy

    5 Exercises to Help Get Rid of Back Pain During Pregnancy
  • Maintain a good posture

    As the centre of gravity shifts forward due to the increasing growth of the baby, women have to lean back to avoid falling forward, which can strain their back muscles. To improve your posture, you should try to stand straight and tall. While sitting, you can place a rolled cloth or towel behind your back for support. Keep your shoulders and back relaxed. If you are standing, try to pull your hips forward.

  • Massage your back

    In case of a backache, you can apply a heating pad or ice pack and massage. After consulting your doctor, you can put cold compression on your back for a few minutes. After 2-3 days, you can switch to a heating pad and apply it to the area.

    Your sleeping position during pregnancy makes a lot of difference. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

  • Do physical activities

    Do some gentle physical activities, but only after consulting your doctor. Try to do some pregnancy-safe stretching exercises which can give you relief from back pain. Stretch your lower back as well.

  • Sleep properly

    Always remember to sleep on your side and not on your back. You should keep your knees bent and put pillows between your knees for support.

  • Lift things in a proper way

    Avoid lifting any heavy objects. If you want to lift something, do not bend at the waist. Instead, squat down and lift the object with your legs, and not with the back.

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    Exercises To Ease Back Pain In Pregnancy

    This gentle exercise helps to strengthen stomach muscles, which can ease back pain in pregnancy:

    1) Start on all fours with knees under hips, hands under shoulders, fingers facing forwards and stomach muscles lifted to keep your back straight.

    2) Pull in your stomach muscles and raise your back up towards the ceiling, letting your head and bum relax downwards gently do not let your elbows lock and only move your back as far as you comfortably can.

    3) Hold for a few seconds then slowly return to the box position take care not to hollow your back, it should always return to a straight, neutral position.

    4) Do this slowly and rhythmically 10 times, making your muscles work hard and moving your back carefully.

    Doing prenatal yoga or aquanatal classes with a qualified instructor can also help build your muscles to better support your back. Ask at your local leisure centre.

    Lumbar Lordosis In Pregnancy

    I spoke with Micheline Cerra, a PT with 30 years of experience. Micheline is the owner of in San Francisco, and has three young sons. Over the course of her career, Micheline has worked with dozens of expectant moms.

    “During pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity shifts as the baby grows in the front of her body, Micheline explains. “This causes exaggerated lordosis and weakens the core which both contribute to the back pain.”

    As the baby grows and the weight of the fetus increases, it takes up more space in the belly and moves the center of gravity forward. Some womens bodies accommodate this shift by hyper-extending the lower spine in an exaggerated forward curve.In addition, the weight of the babyespecially in the later monthspulls on the lower back, increasing the lumbar curve.

    An exaggerated lumbar curve can tighten the long muscles that run down either side of the spine. The tighter a muscle becomes, the more painful it can feel. Tight muscles tend to be more dehydrated, and the fascia surrounding them can become stickycreating the painful muscular knots all of us have experienced at some point or another. During pregnancy, this tension can become chronic, and can persist postpartum.

    Physical therapy can be really helpful. “Pregnant patients can be taught to have a stronger core, and better postureboth help with back pain, Micheline says.

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    Frequency And When It Presents

    Research shows that around 50% of people who are pregnant will experience low back pain during pregnancy or in the postpartum period. Low back pain during pregnancy can be mild or associated with specific activities. For some people, it can be chronicthat is, pain is persistent and lasts more than three months.

    One-third of pregnant people will suffer from severe low back pain that reduces their quality of life, while 10% report that low back pain affects their daily routine and ability to work. For most people, low back pain starts between the fifth and seventh months of pregnancy, but for some, low back pain may occur earlier.

    Is Lower Back Pain Normal In Early Pregnancy

    Yoga for back and hip pain during pregnancy

    Yes. This pain in your lower spine or even your pelvis is caused by a pregnancy hormone called relaxin, which makes your ligaments and joints relax and become looser, so your body is ready to give birth. In fact 5080% of womenexperience back pain during pregnancy.

    According to the NHS, during pregnancy, the ligaments in your body naturally become softer and stretch to prepare you for labour. This can put a strain on the joints of your lower back and pelvis, which can cause back pain.

    Pregnancy hormones temporarily loosen your ligaments, making your back vulnerable. Add in the effect a bump has on your posture and the pressure of a baby on your spinal nerves, and its easy to see why back problems are so prevalent in mums.

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    Heat And Cold Therapy

    Heat and cold therapies can also help you improve lower back pain during pregnancy. It is even highly effective to reduce upper back pain.

    In the beginning, it is suggested to put ice on your back to reduce inflammation and swelling. Cold therapy helps relieve back pain by limiting nerve activity. You can either use a bag of ice or an icy cool towel to put on your affected area. If you feel uncomfortable, use a towel to cover the ice bag.

    Put ice on your lower back for 10 minutes and after two days with ice therapy, switch to heat treatment.

    Stiff muscles or muscle tension can be easily relieved with heat therapy. It is best to use a hot water bag on your lower back, but you can also use low-heating pads. If you are having back pain in the first trimester, avoid using heat pads or limit their usage.

    Also, a warm bath gives you a better feeling at night. But, make sure not to hurt your baby with too much hot water.

    What Is Sciatica In Pregnancy

    When lower back pain radiates into the buttocks and thighs, it’s often confused with sciatica, a relatively uncommon condition. True sciatica during pregnancy, which can happen when a herniated or bulging disk in the lower part of the spine presses on the nerve roots in the spine, affects only about 1 percent of pregnant women.

    If you have sciatica, your leg pain will usually be more severe than your back pain. You’re likely to feel it below the knee as well, and it may even radiate to your foot and toes. And you’ll probably feel a tingling, pins-and-needles sensation in your legs or possibly some numbness.

    With severe sciatic nerve pain, you may have numbness in your groin or genital area as well. You may even find that it’s hard to urinate or have a bowel movement.

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    Ways To Treat Back Pain While Pregnant

    Your body undergoes tremendous physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy. As a result, pregnancy back pain is a common complaint, especially in the third trimester. If youre looking for ways to treat back pain during pregnancy, try these 10 tips.

  • Maintain good posture: As your center of gravity shifts forward with your growing belly, resist the urge to lean back because this strains your lower spine and may contribute to pregnancy back pain. Instead, stand up straight and tall, avoid slouching when you sit, and dont sit or stand for too long without a break.
  • Wear the right shoes: Avoid high heels and unsupportive flats or flip-flops. Instead, opt for low-heeled shoes with comfortable, built-in arch support.
  • Try a maternity belt: This supportive undergarment helps hold up your baby bump to limit the strain on your lower back. Even maternity pants with a wide elastic band that fits under your belt should provide the added support you need.
  • Avoid heavy lifting: When possible, ask for help if you need to lift and move anything that weighs more than a few pounds. If you must lift the object yourself, bend at the knees, get into a squatting position, and push back up with your legs.
  • Sleep on your side: For extra support, place a pillow between your knees. Also, roll up a thick towel under your waist to help prevent your spine from drooping into the mattress.
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