Dealing With Pregnancy-Related Back Pain

Pregnancy is rough on a body. Physical changes happen so fast that it seems as though all your body can do is react. Plenty of women experience discomfort (such as morning sickness, sore feet, or heart burn) throughout pregnancy, and back pain definitely makes the list. As many as 50-70% of pregnant women experience some level of back pain, especially during the third trimester when baby is biggest. But why does pregnancy back pain happen, and what can be done about it?
Why do I have back pain?
It’s not difficult to understand how pregnancy can lead to an aching back. A woman’s body does some incredible things to compensate for a whole new person, and since the back is the pillar that holds a body up, it winds up taking the additional workload. Pregnancy back pain can result from:
• Pregnancy hormones – The hormones your body releases during pregnancy help prepare for childbirth by relaxing the ligaments. This also affects your back and its ability to support the body.
• Extra weight gain – When the body carries excess weight – especially in the belly where baby is growing – the muscles and ligaments in the back become strained, causing pain or soreness.
• Weakened abdominal muscles – The muscles of the abdomen support the back, but during pregnancy these muscles stretch and may lose strength.
• Change of posture – The extra weight due to a growing baby mixed with weakened abdominal muscles contribute greatly to a change of posture as the body compensates for the changes. Bending over and being on your feet all day only worsen pregnancy back pain.
• Stress – It’s no surprise that pregnancy is stressful for many women, and sometimes the emotional, psychological, and physical stress manifests by feelings of pain.
What helps alleviate back pain during pregnancy?
The first thing you can do to minimize back pain is to prevent it altogether. Exercise caution throughout the pregnancy to avoid straining your back. Even still, some soreness or pain in the back comes along with pregnancy. Here are some ideas to help it feel better:
1. Strengthen your muscles – In most cases, exercise during pregnancy can go a long way toward helping you feel your best.
2. Wear supportive shoes – High heels and flats don’t offer arch support, which is especially important if on your feet for much of the day.
3. Don’t bend over – If you must pick something up off the floor, bend your knees to squat down rather than bending from the waist.
4. Sleep with supportive pillows - Getting plenty of rest and/or giving your feet a break can help immensely with pregnancy back pain. Schedule naps when needed.
5. Elevate your feet – Not only is it good for your back but can help with swelling, too.
6. Visit a chiropractor or massage therapist.
7. Wedge a lumbar support or pillow behind your back when sitting.
8. Apply heat or cold compresses to sore areas.
9. Avoid lifting heavy objects – Your body is especially susceptible to injury during pregnancy, and if you throw out your back there might not be much your healthcare provider can do to help until after you’ve had the baby.
Back labor pains
An aching back is common during pregnancy, but if you experience abrupt, severe back pain, it could be a sign of injury. In addition, some women feel labor pains in the back rather than the abdomen and pelvis. Labor pains feel like rhythmic cramping, and if you experience this type of back pain, contact your doctor or midwife. It could mean preterm labor!

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