This is something that most women just put up with, but they simply don’t have to. Progesterone can help with fertility, but once pregnant many women do experience back pain.
If you are looking for a drug-free answer then Sara Randall from Perfect Balance Clinic explains here that you definitely have some options.
Being pregnant and having back pain almost always go together, but is there anything you can do about it? Pregnancy brings dramatic musculoskeletal changes that alter normal biomechanics, accompanied by strain on the ligaments, increased muscle tension, and decreased range of motion, causing pain.
For around half to three quarters of pregnant women, some degree of low back pain and pelvic pain is inevitable and the level of pain tends to increase as the pregnancy progresses. A recent study reported an incidence of 67% in the UK, yet found that only a small proportion of women seek treatment and physiotherapy.
Fortunately, there is so much that a woman can do to prevent the back pain from becoming a long-term health issue and to ease the discomfort that comes with it.
A drug free alternative for back pain
Given the dangers that can accompany the use of medication for unborn babies, it is very important that women look for effective and safe solutions to deal with back pain in pregnancy. For many women, the pain can be so severe that they are unable to work.
Back and pelvic pain frequently occur together during pregnancy, though pelvic pain can often occur on its own with residual symptoms continuing after giving birth.
Many pregnant women consider that coping with back pain during pregnancy is just part of the overall process, and the large majority don’t seek help in treating the condition.
Given that the level of pain can be severe and affect your daily life, this is an unnecessary burden; physical treatments are highly effective and readily available.
During the early stages of pregnancy, the body releases relaxin, a hormone produced by the ovary and the placenta that aids in softening of joints and ligaments in the pelvis.
As a result, this can challenge the anatomical structures of the spine which causes back pain in pregnancy. In addition, unstable joints of the lower back can easily cause irritation and become hypermobile.
The three kinds of back pain felt during pregnancy are lumbar back pain (lower back pain), posterior pelvic pain and thirdly anterior pubic symphysis pain.
- Lumbar back pain – this usually occurs in the centre of the back at and/or above the waist. It might also appear as sciatic pain that radiates across the buttock, through the leg and possibly to the foot. The muscles along the spine might also feel tender.
- Posterior pelvic pain occurs more often during pregnancy than lumbar pain. It is felt as a deep pain just below waist and across the tailbone and to one or both sides.
For many women with lower back and pelvic pain during pregnancy the impact on their lives is substantial. Most experience daily pain which is moderate to severe in intensity and which can last for longer than two hours. Often the pain eases with rest, though usually it grows more severe as the pregnancy progresses.
Sleep disturbances are common as is the loss of ability to carry out daily activities. Increased fatigue also means that patients need more frequent rest and often require more days off work.
Back pain during pregnancy has multiple causes which include biomechanical, vascular, and hormonal changes:
There are several risk factors which include age, whether back pain has been experienced before pregnancy or during a previous pregnancy, weight (BMI), and family history.
Hormonal changes – certain hormones that are released during pregnancy result in the softening of the ligaments in the pelvic area. This is so that the joints are able to loosen in preparation for the birth.
However, the hormones don’t just affect those particular ligaments; they also affect the ligaments that support the back, leaving it more vulnerable to injury.
Weight distribution – as your pregnancy progresses, there is a change in your body’s centre of gravity; it slowly moves forward as your foetus grows. In order to compensate you are likely to change your posture, putting additional stress on your back.
Weight gain – the additional weight you gain must be supported by your back, again increasing the stresses that it must cope with.
Standing and bending – too much standing and bending is likely to trigger and increase back pain.
There are obvious concerns regarding the prescription of drugs pregnancy for pain relief, so the approach is generally physical rather than pharmaceutical. It is important that adequate information is provided about the condition and that pregnant women are given the support they deserve and are encouraged to remain active, continuing with normal daily activities including where possible work.
Typical approaches to managing the pain are physiotherapy, exercises, frequent rest, hot and cold compresses, an abdominal support belt, and massage.
Supervised exercise including water gymnastics are particularly effective during the second half of pregnancy can, reducing pain and lost working days.
Posture – good posture in combination with exercise is recommended.
Massage therapy is effective in reducing pain and decreasing anxiety.
Abdominal support belt using 0rthotheses such as sacroiliac belts can significantly reduce pain.
Pilates during pregnancy can be beneficial in several ways. As your baby grows your posture and alignment will be affected and although Pilates can’t prevent this from happening, what it will do is strengthen the muscles, particularly those that stabilise the back.
Strengthening the muscles that surround the hips and pelvis will directly reduce the discomfort and back pain you feel. It will also help with your balance and hasten your recovery after giving birth.
If you decide to do Pilates it is important to have a Pilates instructor who understands the changes to the body that occur during pregnancy and is duly qualified and experienced in Pilates for pregnant women.
Simple lifestyle changes can go a long way towards easing back pain in pregnancy.
- for pregnant women who are fond of wearing high heels, changing to flats is highly recommended.
- months before the delivery, the balance and posture of a pregnant woman changes to accommodate the growing foetus. Back pain in pregnancy can be eased significantly by undertaking some gentle exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles. Stationary bicycling, walking and swimming are safe exercises that promote healthy pregnant bodies.
- back massaging is very important as it helps in soothing aching, tired muscles. Simply lean forwards over a chair or alternatively lie on your side. Your partner should gently massage you especially on the lower back muscles that run on both sides of the spine.
You can get further help from your midwife, a physiotherapist or a professional massage therapist.
- there are some special types of pillows designed for pregnant women and they go a long way in reducing back pain in pregnancy. These maternity pillows allow you to sleep on the side and the wedge shaped pillow can be of significant help to your tummy and back and it is advisable that you experiment sleeping with different pillows until you get the most appropriate one for you.
- support belts play the very important role of taking some weight off the weight off your back and tummy muscles and help to support your pelvic joints. However, Kinesio taping is also a more personal and prescriptive method of creating a tailor made support belt that provides a great deal of support.
The bottom line is that putting up with back pain during pregnancy is unnecessary, so you shouldn’t just accept it as part of the whole process. Treating your back pain with the procedures described is highly effective.
Not only will this make your pregnancy a far more pleasant experience, it is also likely to make the delivery easier and less painful.
Perfect Balance Clinic have launched specific rehab classes that adhere to guidance from industry leading results and offer osteopathic manipulative treatment that offers a conservative, non-invasive option for relieving pregnancy-related back pain while increasing back-related function. They have a free e-book you can download here: http://www.perfectbalanceclinic.com/advice/e-books/posture-e-book/
Sara Randall graduated with a degree in Midwifery in 2002 and worked as a midwife within the NHS. She is also a qualified Osteopath specialising in pregnancy-related musculoskeletal pains, breastfeeding issues and manage newborns and children following a traumatic birth using Cranial Osteopathy.
The Perfect Balance team approach, inclusive of The Birth Team (private Obstetrician and midwife), in house physiotherapists, osteopaths, pregnancy massage therapists, acupuncturists, Kinesio tapers and ultrasound trained practitioners can be contacted via their website at http://www.perfectbalanceclinic.com/
Many women are using bioidentical progesterone to help increase their fertility and reduce the risk of miscarriage, but once pregnant you may need extra help so these articles will be useful: