by Patricia Hughes
Back pain is a complaint commonly heard by doctors and midwives during pregnancy. The pain is caused by a combination of factors. As your belly grows, your center of gravity shifts. This changes the way you stand and walk, which puts pressure on the lower back. Other causes of back pain in pregnancy include hormonal changes. This softens the joints and ligaments which helps prepare the body for birth. This is a good thing. However, it has a negative effect as well, back pain.
There are some things you can do to reduce the pain. The first is to pay attention to your posture. As your belly grows and your center of gravity shifts, pay attention to how you are standing and walking. It is very common for women to strain the muscles with incorrect posture. Stand straight, rather than leaning backwards, keep your shoulders back and down with your buttocks tucked under. Try to keep your back in a straight position to avoid the strain that causes lower back pain.
The way you sleep can also contribute to back pain. Finding a comfortable position is challenging, at best. Use pillows to support your body and help avoid straining the back. Body pillows are helpful for some women. Others prefer several standard bed pillows. These can be placed between the knees and under the abdomen to provide additional support.
Exercise can help reduce low back pain. Prenatal yoga is beneficial for stretching the muscles and relieving tension caused by poor posture. Swimming is also beneficial for relieving back pain. In addition, regular exercise helps keep weight gain under control. The more weight that is gained, the more likely a woman is to have back pain.
If you experience back pain during your pregnancy, always speak to your health care provider. Your doctor or midwife will assess the pain and recommend steps you can take to find relief. In some cases, a chiropractor may be needed. Your doctor can make this determination and give you a referral, if needed.
Massage can often help to relieve back pain. If you are thinking of trying massage, look for a massage therapist that is trained and experienced in prenatal massage. Your doctor, midwife or friend may be able to refer you to the right person. Women who find relief through massage often continue throughout the pregnancy and use massage techniques in labor as well.
A soak in a warm bath is helpful for some moms to be. Fill the bath tub with warm water and add a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender. To increase the relaxing effect, play a CD with soft music or nature sounds. Consider it treating yourself to a spa day in the comfort and convenience of your own bathroom.
If heat alone isn’t helping, try alternating heat and cold. Some women find this method to be very effective. This could be ice packs alternated with hot water bottles or heating pads. You could also soak in a hot tub and then apply an ice pack when you get out.
If you’ve tried every possible remedy and still can’t find relief, you may be tempted to take a pain reliever. There are some that are safe and effective for pregnancy. Your health care provider is the best source of information regarding pain relief. Speak to your doctor before taking any medication during pregnancy.
Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.