Types Of Back Pain And When They Might Occur During Pregnancy
There are many types of pain, and different people experience pain in different ways and at different times. For example, you might notice sharp jabs when you make certain movements, like getting out of a car or walking up a flight of stairs. Or, you might have muscle cramps or spasms when you sit or sleep in certain positions. Pain can come on suddenly or slowly, and you might feel anything from a sharp pain to a constant dull pressure or a throbbing ache that comes and goes. You might even experience a combination of these sensations. Sometimes it can be tricky to pinpoint the exact site of the pain. For example, you might have trouble distinguishing back pain from soreness in your pelvis or hip.
Taking The Myth Out Of Back Labor
Labor begins when the muscles of the uterus contract.
Gradually, those first twinges will become more intense with each contraction beginning, reaching a peak, and then fading away. As the contractions become more intense, theyll last longer which is exactly what you want, no matter how much you wish it would stop when youre going through it.
These contractions are the tightening of your uterus as it pushes your baby lower into your birth canal. Most of us feel intense pain, cramping, and pressure during active labor.
Usually, the pain you feel will center in the lower abdomen and pelvis. But 33 percent of women will feel more pain in the lower back, sometimes due to how baby is positioned.
In an ideal world, all babies would be born sunny-side down with their faces turned towards moms cervix. But in back labor, your little ones face is sunny-side up and the back of their head or should we say, the hardest part of their head is against your cervix.
So no, back labor isnt a myth.
If you hear your doula, midwife, or doctor say babys in the occiput posterior position, that means sunny-side up. And carry right on with your breathing exercises because, well, it happens and it can un-happen, too.
One small, dated study of 408 pregnant women showed that even though
Back Pain Is Not Accompanied By Abdominal Tightness
When youre in labor, your uterus contracts. Though you may feel it in your back, the contractions wrap around from the front. If you are experiencing contractions and back labor, you may notice your belly tightening at regular intervals along with your back pain.
Regular back pain is not accompanied by abdominal tightness.
While these tips may help you distinguish between regular back pain and early labor signs, be advised that once labor progresses, if you experience true back labor, it may feel very different. During your period of hard labor as opposed to early labor back pain may not let up like regular contractions, and you may feel a constant pain if you are experiencing back labor .
Keep This Statistic In Mind
Read Also: How To Get Va Disability For Back Pain
What Causes Spine Pain During Pregnancy
The cause of pregnancy-related back pain is likely related to a combination of mechanical, metabolic, circulatory, and psychosocial contributing factors. However, most of the causes can be grouped into the following areas:
Weight gain. Women typically gain between 20 and 40 pounds throughout pregnancy, which puts additional pressure on the spine. This added pressure may result in lower back pain.
Shift in center of gravity. As you gain weight and your belly grows, your ability to maintain proper posture becomes challenged. Posture changes from pregnancy have been connected to lordosis and , which may contribute to low back pain.
Hormonal changes. While most women start experiencing back pain between during the fifth and seventh months, some report back pain in the first trimester. Since the baby isnt large enough to cause any physical stress to the spine, it may be hormonal changes causing pain. Pregnant women produce relaxin, a hormone that relaxes spinal and pelvic ligaments and joints to facilitate childbirth. Relaxin may cause some spinal instability, and this can cause low back pain. In fact, certain hormones produced during pregnancy can cause sacroiliac joint dysfunction, a condition that causes low back pain.
Increased stress. Pregnancy is an exciting and special time for many women, but it can also be stressful. or even cause it. Finding ways to manage stress during pregnancy may help ease your pain.
When To Contact Your Healthcare Provider
Back pain is often one of the many normal aches and pains of pregnancy, but sometimes, it can indicate a more serious problem. It can be a symptom of preterm labor or a symptom of a urinary tract infection , for example. Contact your healthcare provider if:
The back pain is severe
The backache lasts more than two weeks
Your feet are numb
You have severe pain in your calves
You have vaginal bleeding
Don’t Miss: How To Loosen A Stiff Lower Back
Natural Ways To Relieve Back Pain During Pregnancy
When your baby bump is causing back pain, there are plenty of things you can do to feel better without taking over-the-counter pain killers.
During pregnancy, that bowling ball, a.k.a. baby, inside your uterus changes your whole centre of gravity, which results in your pelvis arahifting forward. This can lead to a common form of back pain known as pelvic girdle pain , which spans from the middle lower back area all the way around to your hips and pubic bone, says Sarah Mickeler, chiropractor and founder of West End Mamas, a clinic in Toronto that specializes in pre- and postnatal care.
At the same time, in order to compensate for this forward shift in their pelvis, many women naturally lean backward, which increases the curve of their lower back, potentially leading to low-back pain. Ouch!
All of this can add up to a lot of aches and pains, but the good news is there are a number of ways to prevent and treat it. Pregnancy does not have to hurt, says Mickeler. Here are some ways to find relief from pregnancy-related back pain.
Back Pain Has A Trigger
While not always the case, you can often identify what you were doing earlier in the day that may have triggered back pain. You may have been on your feet for too long, slept poorly, or lifted something that resulted in a muscle tear. Labor pains tend to come on without a specific trigger, whereas back pain is a chronic condition.
Also Check: How To Relieve Back Pain While Pregnant
Causes Of Back Pain In Pregnancy
There are several physiologic changes that occur in a pregnant body that can explain the increased chance of developing back pain. The most notable is the weight gain that occurs during pregnancy which is typically 25-35 pounds, with at least half of that weight gain occurring in the abdominal region. The weight change also shifts the posture of the spine and changes your body’s center of gravity.
The second major change that occurs is hormonal. These hormone levels that are raised increase the laxity of joints and ligaments in the body. One of these important hormones, called relaxin, has been shown to correlate with symptoms of back pain. Studies have found that women with the highest levels of relaxin often have the most significant back pain.
Thigh Pain In Pregnancy
Temporary compression, pulling, and/or loss of blood supply to a peripheral nerve may occur in the thigh during pregnancy. The swelling of soft tissues and pressure from the growing uterus may add additional pressure on these nerves.
Thigh pain may occur under these circumstances when the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve gets compressed. This nerve provides sensation to the waist area and the front and side of the thigh.2
Compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve results in a condition called meralgia paresthetica, which causes one or more of the following symptoms, typically on one side of the body6:
- Burning or achy pain in the outer side and/or front of the thigh
- A cold, icy feeling in different parts of the thigh
- Buzzing or vibrations in the thigh
Meralgia paresthetica pain increases with activity, such as while standing or walking, and alleviates when sitting.6
Also Check: What To Do If Your Lower Left Back Hurts
Causes Of Back Pain In Pregnant Women
There are many possible reasons why it happens. Here are some of the more likely causes:
- Weight gain. During a healthy pregnancy, women typically gain between 25 and 35 pounds. The spine has to support that weight. That can cause lower back pain. The weight of the growing baby and uterus also puts pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and back.
- Posture changes. Pregnancy shifts your center of gravity. As a result, you may gradually — even without noticing — begin to adjust your posture and the way you move. This may result in back pain or strain.
- Hormone changes. During pregnancy, your body makes a hormone called relaxin that allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birth process. The same hormone can cause ligaments that support the spine to loosen, leading to instability and pain.
- Muscle separation. As the uterus expands, two parallel sheets of muscles , which run from the rib cage to the pubic bone, may separate along the center seam. This separation may worsen back pain.
- Stress. Emotional stress can cause muscle tension in the back, which may be felt as back pain or back spasms. You may find that you experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of your pregnancy.
Focus On Your Posture
As your uterus expands, the way you stand and walk may change. Your body is naturally accommodating to the shift in your center of gravity and the laxity of your ligaments. At night, you may be most comfortable sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs. Also, your lower back might curve more inward while your pelvis tips forward. To straighten up, work on regularly strengthening your pelvic floor and core muscles.
Read Also: Does Kidney Damage Cause Back Pain
When To Get Help
Talk to your GP or midwife if your back is very painful and affecting your quality of life. You may be referred to a physiotherapist.
Contact your GP urgently if you have back pain and you:
- lose feeling in one or both of your legs, your bum or your genitals
- cannot control the need to pee or poo
- feel the pain is intense at the start of the second or third trimester – this could be a sign of early labour
- have a fever, bleeding from your vagina or pain when you pee
- have pain under your ribs, on one or both sides
- suddenly need to pee very frequently
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 pain 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 .
Don’t Miss: What Is Good For Back Pain
What Causes Back Labor
Remember that we said that if your baby is sunny-side up, youre more likely to experience back labor. Well, the good news is that even if your baby is sunny-side up and stays that way, thats no guarantee for back labor. You may still get off easily or, rather, more easily. Birthing a little human is hardly easy!
There are a few other possible risk factors for back labor. If have pain during your menstrual cycle, are giving birth for the first time, or have had back labor in the past, you may be more likely to experience back labor regardless of which way your baby is facing.
Ergonomically Supported Sleep Positions Reduce Mechanical Strain In The Lower Back
A side-sleeping posture with the use of appropriate supportive pillows is recommended in pregnancy.
- Using a pillow between the knees and ankles while sleeping brings the top of the knee at the same level as the hip, reducing strain on the lower back.1
- Placing a vertical pillow near the abdomen and upper body can help support the top arm and chest area.1
The head and neck may be supported by a small rolled-up towel placed under the neck inside the pillowcase.
Don’t Miss: How To Stop Back Pain At Work
Lower Back Pain Is One Of The Most Common Reasons For Women Taking Leave From Their Work Or Their Daily Routine Also This Leads To Increase Chances Of Ceaserean Sections Said Dr Shivani Sabharwal
Around 50 per cent of women, at some point during their pregnancy or even the postpartum period may encounter back pain. But most women feel it is normal discomfort and an inevitable part of pregnancy, making it one of the most neglected issues, said Dr Shivani Sabharwal, gynaecologist, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Karol Bagh, Delhi.
Low back pain in pregnancy has been reviewed extensively, however, there is still much ambiguity with regard to identifying appropriate investigations, considering safe treatment options, and decision-making pertaining to the use of neuraxial analgesia and anaesthesia during labour and delivery.
Back pain in pregnancy
LBP is one of the most common reasons for women taking leave from work or their daily routine. This also leads to increased chances of ceaserean sections, said Dr Sabharwal. Pain can be either hormonal, stress-induced, mechanical, or because of associated pathological disorder like underlying disk herniation. Mechanical pain can be due to weight gain in pregnancy, and shifting of the central cavity, which makes women lean backward. The abdominal muscle in a pregnant lady stretchesto accommodate the growing uterus. This causes muscle fatigue and puts an extra load on the spine which pressurises the back. An important hormone that is released 10 times more during pregnancy, called relaxin, causes laxity and discomfort not only in the joints but the entire back.
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.
Don’t Miss: Can Nexplanon Cause Back Pain
What Can I Do To Relieve My Pregnancy Backaches
I’m 7 months pregnant and my back is killing me! How can I get some relief? Fiona
Many pregnant women have achy backs as their bellies grow larger and their muscles and spine strain to carry the extra weight.
During pregnancy, the body also produces the hormone relaxin, which helps prepare the body for childbirth. One of the effects of relaxin is the loosening of ligaments throughout the body, making pregnant women less stable and more prone to injury, especially in their backs.
Here are some ways to help ease your back pain:
Back pain also can be a sign of something else, like labor starting or a urinary tract infection . If you have any questions or concerns, severe pain, pain that isn’t getting better, or other symptoms, talk to your doctor.
How To Help Yourself
- Make gravity work for you. Try to walk, bounce on a birthing ball, or lean against a wall. Keep your babys head off your spine by getting down on your hands and knees, leaning over, or crouching. Avoid lying on your back, as this will put more pressure on your spine.
- Take a warm shower and aim the water at your back or relax in a warm bath.
Also Check: What Are The Best Mattress Toppers For Back Pain
Taking Rest And Applying Heat Therapy Can Help Heal Sore Tissues
Taking short periods of rest during the day helps ease muscle spasms and relieves acute pain. While taking rest, keeping both feet elevated can help bend the hips and decrease the curvature in the lower spine.2
Using a heat patch in the lower back area and/or rear pelvis can help reduce soreness, decrease muscle spasm, and improve blood circulation. The heat source must be used for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and be of a tolerable temperature. Placing a barrier, such as a towel, is advisable to avoid burns.
Maintaining an optimal level of function throughout your pregnancy and having the least amount of discomfort are the main goals of treatment for back pain during pregnancy.
Physical therapy encompasses postural modifications, back strengthening, stretching, and range-of-motion exercises. Appropriate physical therapy and exercise for pregnant women instructed by a trained therapist can help strengthen the soft tissues and muscles around the lumbar spine .2
- Flexion exercises help make the abdominal muscles stronger, improve core strength, and decrease the lumbar curve.2
- Extension exercises help increase strength in the paraspinal muscles that provide stability to the spine.2
Physical therapy and exercise to reduce back pain in pregnancy include low-impact options, such as pelvic tilts, knee-to-chest stretch, straight leg raise, curl-ups, side-lying leg raise, and the Kegel exercises.2