Back pain is the bane of many female pregnancies. With weight gain, hormonal fluctuations, and a shift in focus, back pain is pretty inevitable.
If the pain is in the tailbone, it may help to sit on a donut pillow. This will give some space between your tailbone and the seat. Movement can help, especially walking. Besides exercising, take a rest whenever you can. A prenatal massage can often also relieve the pain.
One particular type of back pain is particularly bothersome. Sciatic nerve pain is excruciating pain that you feel in your buttocks and that radiate into the back of one or both of your legs. Sciatic pain can be caused by your uterus pressing on your sciatic nerve. The nerve can become inflamed, causing pain; Needles and pins; and even deafness.
You can try hot or cold compresses to relieve the pain. But the good news is that it should go away after your baby is born. If you try to prevent back pain now, you can feel good later.
Here’s what our mom doctors – doctors who are mothers too – do to prevent and treat back pain during pregnancy.
“During my pregnancy, I saw 35 patients a day,” says Mary Mason, MD, a mother of two, internist, and chief medical officer of a multi-state managed care company that cares for about 70,000 pregnant mothers on Medicaid coordinates a year. “I had some problems with back pain and thought that swimming helped a lot.”
“I’m four feet tall and I wasn’t the ideal weight gainer,” said Kathie Bowling, MD, mother of three grown sons and OB-GYN in private practice in Providence, Rhode Island. “I’ve gained 40 pounds with each pregnancy. (The ideal is 25, and most women put on between 35 and 40 pounds.) That was a lot of weight to drag around on my body. I had severe sciatic pain. One thing that helped was lying on the opposite side of my pain. “
“During the third trimester of pregnancy, I had sciatica, which is lower back pain that runs down the leg. There isn’t much you can do about that when you’re pregnant. I went to a massage therapist who specializes in treating pregnant women and let themselves be massaged. The massage helped a little – temporarily. But the hour was better relax and be pampered, “says Lezli Braswell, MD, mother of one daughter and two sons and a family doctor in Columbus, Georgia.
“The further I got along in my pregnancy, the more my back ached,” said Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, mother of three, co-author of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, nationally recognized health expert and General Practitioner in Lexington, Kentucky. “Placing a pillow in my back while I sat helped my lower back, but it didn’t affect the muscle tension and pain that had built up in my neck and between my shoulders. Eventually, it occurred to me that my growing breasts were doing a lot of the strain on my upper back, and that my pre-pregnancy bra just wasn’t giving me enough support. “
“I wasn’t quite ready to wear a nursing bra, but I found that my heavier breasts didn’t put as much strain on my neck, shoulders and upper back by wearing a sturdy sports bra most of the time” adds McAllister, “I bought a few extra sports bras in my new size and found that I was much more comfortable wearing them at home and at work, and my muscles weren’t nearly as tired or tense by the end of the year Day.”
When to call the doctor
Tell your doctor or midwife if you experience back pain during pregnancy. If you have severe back pain or numbness, call your doctor or midwife immediately. Back pain can be a sign of premature labor.
Other symptoms of preterm labor include vaginal discharge, contractions, abdominal pain, and menstrual-like cramps. You should call your doctor or midwife right away if you suspect you are going into premature labor.
Jennifer Bright is a mother of four sons, co-founder and CEO of veteran family-owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of over 150 Mama MDs, and co-author of The Mommy MD Guide for the Toddler Years . “She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To learn more about Jennifer Bright and to read articles by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web site at www.creators.com.
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