Here, the Bodytonic Clinic shares their 13 best ways women can relieve symptoms of pregnancy-related back pain, as recommended by experts
It is very common for pregnant women to experience back pain, especially during the first trimesters of pregnancy. In fact, 50% of women experience some back pain during pregnancy. Unfortunately, back pain can be very irritating and uncomfortable, especially when you’re treating your other pregnancy symptoms as well. To help you through this time, the Bodytonic Clinic has put together the best tips for managing back pain during your pregnancy.
What Causes Back Pain During Pregnancy?
Your body is subject to many physical changes during pregnancy that can put a lot of strain on your body and back. First of all, your ligaments loosen and stretch as your body prepares for labor, which can affect your posture and put strain on your joints. Weight gain and increased fluid retention can also put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica, a type of pain that runs from the lower back and hips to the feet.
Later in pregnancy, weight gain leads to a shift in focus in most women, which can lead to poor posture. You may lean backwards more often, for example to put weight on your back. This weight gain can also cause your muscles to contract, which can also lead to lower and upper back discomfort.
However, all of these changes are a normal part of pregnancy, and luckily, there are a few different ways you can safely relieve your back pain during pregnancy.
Ways To Safely Relieve Back Pain During Pregnancy
1. Pregnancy massage
If your posture changes during pregnancy, your muscles will adapt to this new posture, which can result in compression of the sciatic nerve that runs down your lower back and leg. A pregnancy massage can be effective in loosening the muscles in this area and relieving some of the pressure on this nerve. It’s also the perfect way to indulge in some self-care before the baby is born!
Stretching regularly is a great way to loosen up and strengthen your back muscles to help relieve back pain and prevent it from occurring in the future. Try adding some gentle pregnancy stretches to your usual exercise routine to build strength in your back. Remember that due to the surge in relaxin hormone in your body during pregnancy, it is important to be careful when exercising. Your body may be more flexible than normal, but this can make it easier to overstretch and injure yourself.
3. Prenatal Yoga
For help with stretching, why not take a prenatal yoga class? In addition to stretching the muscles, pregnancy yoga also teaches you some breathing exercises and meditation techniques that can be effective for pain relief. Prenatal yoga is also effective in reducing stress and anxiety, helping you prepare both mentally and physically for your child’s arrival.
Sleep is very relaxing, especially during pregnancy. During sleep, the chemical properties in your body are renewed, which is essential for healing and pain relief. It is important that pregnant women get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, especially if they are struggling with back pain. Make sure your mattress is firm and supports your back to avoid back pain and improve the quality of sleep.
Meditation can be very effective for pain relief. Practicing breathing techniques while meditating can help release tight muscles in your back and decrease your awareness of pain. By practicing meditation, you will learn to focus on something calming like the sea and the waves, which can be effective pain relief for back pain and also during labor.
Acupuncture is a complementary therapy that has proven itself in pregnancy. Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into various parts of the body that stimulate the nerves and other tissues to release endorphins. This can change how pain is processed in the brain and spinal cord. You should speak to your family doctor before trying acupuncture. If you go to an acupuncture appointment, make sure the acupuncture therapist knows ahead of time that you are pregnant.
7. Improve your posture
Many pregnant women find that their posture changes when their center of gravity shifts forward during pregnancy. This means that you may lean back a lot, which can put a strain on your back. The best way to avoid this is to work on your posture. While standing, keep your head straight, shoulders back and chest forward. Also, try to keep your knees straight but not straightened, and pull in your stomach. As you sit, keep your back straight and shoulders back, trying to sit in your chair as far as possible. You can also consider a back support if you are having trouble finding a comfortable position while sitting.
8. Change shoes
To suit your growing physique, you may need to reevaluate the type and style of shoes you wear. You should wear shoes that provide good stability and support as this will help you manage the shift in gravity during pregnancy.
9. Change sleeping position
Back pain can make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. To relieve back pain, there are a few sleeping positions that you can try. One option is to bend your knees as you sleep to relieve pressure on your back, or you can try placing a pillow between your legs while you sleep. You can also consider using a pregnancy pillow for sleeping, which will provide extra support for your body and back.
10. Hot and cold compresses
To relieve your back pain, you can try using a hot and cold compress on your back. Applying hot compresses then cold compresses to the sore area can lower body temperature, narrow blood vessels, reduce swelling, and reduce inflammation in muscles. However, be sure to consult a doctor such as your primary care doctor or midwife before attempting this as it is not safe to heat certain parts of the body, such as your stomach, during pregnancy.
While rest is important during pregnancy, exercise is also important. Staying active is great for back pain, especially with gentle exercises like yoga and Pilates. These exercises are great for building back muscles and improving posture. You can also try aqua exercise during pregnancy as the water makes any strong movement more gentle on your body. Your local swimming pool may offer pregnant women aqua classes that walk you through a range of exercises and stretches that are suitable for pregnant women.
Osteopathy is an alternative medicine that uses physical manipulation techniques such as stretching and massage to soothe your muscles and joints. An osteopath can help you treat problem areas like your back, even if you’re struggling with sciatica. Although osteopathy is safe for pregnant women, it is advisable to seek the advice of your family doctor before attempting osteopathy.
13. Drugs for pain relief
If you haven’t found another solution that works for you, or if your back pain becomes very severe, it may be worth asking your doctor about possible pain relievers. Never take pain medication during pregnancy without first consulting your doctor.