24 May Easing symptoms of lower back pain in pregnancy
Along with nausea, heartburn, fatigue, and swollen feet, most women experience back pain at some time during her pregnancy.
Pregnancy-related back pain is the most common condition I see in clinic. In most cases the pain typically affects the lower back but can also affect the buttocks, thighs or legs making it difficult to sleep or even move around.
First of all, what causes lower back pain during pregnancy?
There are many possible reasons why women experience lower back pain during pregnancy. As the baby grows, the uterus expands and becomes heavier and places more weight on the back muscles. The natural curve in the spine increases because it’s trying to cope with the extra weight of the baby bump. Some women may find themselves leaning backward or arching their lower back to compensate for the weight at the front.
Hormone changes can also cause lower back pain. During pregnancy, the body makes a hormone called relaxin, which cause ligaments and joints in the pelvic area to relax and become looser in preparation for the birth process. This puts strain on the joints and ligaments in the lower back which can cause pain.
Feeling stressed can cause muscle tension in the back, causing them to feel tight and stiff. Some women may find that they experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of their pregnancy.
Easing lower back pain:
Although back pain is common during pregnancy, here are some things that we suggest that can ease the symptoms:
- Heat-packs: heat improves blood flow to sore muscles which helps them to relax.
- Reduce stress: Finding ways to manage stress throughout pregnancy can helps tense muscles to relax.
- Exercise: walking and prenatal yoga are great exercises to do throughout pregnancy. It can help build muscles to better support the back and improve posture and balance. Some women may also find exercising in water helpful because it can take the weight off their back and bump, while improving circulation and keeping their muscles moving.
- Pregnancy massage: pregnancy massage helps to relieve general tension and minimise pain and discomfort during pregnancy. It is also a great way to have some quiet time and relieve any emotional stress or anxiety.
- Acupuncture: acupuncturists insert thin needles at particular points on the body, helping to control and relieve back pain for pregnant women.
- Chiropractic care: chiropractors use a range of techniques to relieve back pain. They may prescribe specific exercises to assist with joint issues and nerve compression in the lower back during pregnancy.
Finally, the way you sleep during pregnancy can put unnecessary strain on your spine and cause lower back pain. We suggest that you:
- Place yourself in a comfortable position on your bed: lay on your side with your knees bent. Laying on your side optimizes blood flow to the baby.
- Place a pillow under your head and behind your back for support.
- Place a pillow between your legs: this supports the weight of your top leg and decrease the strain on your back and pelvis
- Place a pillow or rolled up towel between your arms to help prevent odema and swelling
- Use a pregnancy support wedge under the abdomen to cradle the baby and provide additional back support.
A pregnancy support wedge VS Pregnancy pillow
A pregnancy support wedge is designed to support the unborn baby whilst resting or sleeping and may help you get more comfortable when laying on your side. A pregnancy support wedge is small light weight, easy to shift around during the night and takes up no extra room.
A pregnancy pillow is often a full body length pillow, which in the early months of pregnancy are often very comfortable. However as you abdomen grows many women start to find that the extra lengthen and bulk harder to fit into the bed. It is also very hard to shift from side to side, let alone not hit you partner with when trying to manover during the middle of the night.
Some of the Benefits of Using a Pregnancy Support Wedge or Pillow
The most obvious benefit of a pregnancy support wedge or pillow is that it helps the woman sleep better by providing support to the body. Following are some of the other benefits of using a pregnancy pillow:
- Alleviates body aches and pains: As body weight increases during pregnancy, it puts stress and pressure on the back, hips and legs. It is crucial to rest these body parts, and that is only possible if you are able to sleep in a good position. A pregnancy pillow will provide support and comfort to these parts and ensure proper rest, relieving the aches and pain.
- Enhances the circulation of blood: Sleeping on your sides promotes blood circulation, and it is recommended for pregnant women. Sleeping side-ways might be uncomfortable for a pregnant woman due to her growing belly. Owing to its soft cushioning, a pregnancy pillow allows you to sleep comfortably sideways, thereby easing up and promoting the circulation of blood in the body.
- Better, more relaxed, and longer sleeping hours: Good rest is the key to a safe pregnancy, and a maternity pillow will allow you to sleep better and for longer hours.
With my pregnant clients I recommend they try the pregnancy support wedge from Therapeutic Pillow Australia, which we now have available to purchase within the clinic. The support wedge lifts and supports the tummy at a comfortable angle, taking strain off the back and promoting comfort and support.