Lower Back Pain during Pregnancy

A pregnant woman experiencing back pain

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With pregnancy come various types of aches and pains that an expecting mother may experience in different parts of her body. One of the most common one is the lower back pain during early pregnancy. Such a pain, even throughout the duration of pregnancy, can wreak havoc in your experience of the entire journey. Not only is it annoying, but might also affect you to the point where you find it difficult to continue with your daily chores, at home and even at work. Lower back pain is not to be brushed away easily and there are certain ways to diagnose it and take remedial actions.

Why is Lower Back Pain Common during Pregnancy?

A pregnant woman experiencing back pain

Is lower back pain normal in early pregnancy? That’s a question most first-time mothers seem to have in their minds. Even after early pregnancy, it seems to remain present at times throughout the time period.

During pregnancy, your body undergoes intensive changes internally which are reflected in your posture and the way the body carries itself. This triggers a small amount of pressure on the back, causing the mild pregnancy back pain, that most mothers are generally aware of.

With your body expanding in size, various hormones are released as well, some of which are responsible for relaxing the ligaments of the body to take care of the excessive weight. These usually happen in the lower back and the pelvic region, which inevitably puts pressure on the lower back causing pain. If that is further compounded with a strained pelvis and misalignment of joints, the pain may worsen further. Primarily connected to the joints termed as symphysis-pubis and sacroiliac, any disturbance in their usual positions is bound to start a backache all mothers dread.

Causes of Lower Back Pain during Pregnancy

Causes of lower back pain in early pregnancy and through the entire period can range from biological processes within the body, to physical movement patterns, to even mental well-being.

  • Body Posture

The baby’s presence in your womb starts shifting the centre of gravity of your body. This changes your original posture so that you may move around comfortably, but also poses undue pressure on the back and the spine as a result.

  • Hormones

Progesterone is a hormone that is generated during pregnancy, which is responsible for loosening of the ligaments, allowing your body to stretch and grow. In the latter stages of pregnancy, another hormone termed as Relaxin is responsible for the further widening of your pelvic area and preparing your body for delivery. All these changes in your body result in imbalance and misalignment all over, causing your lower back to start aching.

  • Stress

Lower back pain is not purely related to physical changes. Especially with first-time mothers, the entire process of pregnancy can give them anxiety and great amounts of stress in ensuring they have a safe and healthy one. The immediate response to stress is the tightening of the body muscles, which have a direct consequence of resulting in lower backache.

  • Weight Gain

With the addition of the baby and a general increase in the size of the mother’s body, there is considerable weight gain during pregnancy. The back and spine do not get enough time to start bearing this sudden increase in load for them, resulting in the aches and pain.

  • Abdominal Stretching

Pregnancy causes all your abdominal walls to stretch out. This removes the support that is required for the lumbar joints, which further leads to the vertebrae of your spine to be compressed at the lower end. Increasing uterus size also aggravates it further leading to intense lower back pain.

Types of Lower Back Pain

Here are the common types of lower back pain during pregnancy.

1. Posterior Pelvic Pain

This is the most typical type of pain felt during pregnancy. Occurring majorly in the rear portion of the pelvis, it emerges as a pain somewhere deep inside towards your buttocks, or behind your thighs. For women who continue working during pregnancy, this pain occurs while sitting at the desk and leaning forward or near their waist. Other activities like walking, climbing, or lifting objects can also trigger this pain.

2. Lumbar Pain

Above your pelvis lie the lower vertebrae, which is the lumbar region of your back. At times, the lumbar pain feels very close to the lower back pain that people on a daily basis generally feel. This is observed in the area surrounding your spine, mostly at the waist level. This pain can sometimes move towards your legs as well. If your day involves sitting at a desk or standing around for extended hours, or even bending down to lift objects, the pain builds up throughout. This ends up in intense pain towards the evening and while heading to sleep at night.

Who is Most Likely to Experience Lower Back Pain during Pregnancy?

As with any kind of aches, pains, and conditions, mothers who have experienced similar kind of aches earlier in their lives prior to pregnancy, stand a higher chance of experiencing the same pain during pregnancy, if not more. Furthermore, the lifestyle that involves less activity and is primarily sedentary, lacking exercises or so, results in more pain. This is due to the back and abdominal muscles missing the strength that’s required. In special cases, if you are pregnant with more than one baby (twins or triplets), it means more body weight and more stress on the back.

How to Alleviate Lower Back Ache during Pregnancy?

Alleviating lower back pain during pregnancy is possible with proper care and exercises. You can follow the following suggestions for the same.

1. Exercises You Can Do

Rather than relaxing and taking bed rest, getting your body active and doing some basic exercises is a good step towards reducing the pain. Talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise.

  • Undertake a lightweight training regimen that builds up the muscles in your back and core.
  • Flexibility is important for your muscles to be relaxed. Stretching exercises and prenatal yoga helps you stretch gently without putting too much stress on the body’s joints and ligaments. Doing some pelvic tilts, by standing straight and arching your back as you, is great, too.
  • Swimming is absolutely apt as an exercise to strengthen your muscles since it comes with the added advantage of the water’s buoyancy reducing the weight of your body. There are specific pregnancy-related water exercises that you could undertake as well.
  • Gentle walking is where your legs and thighs can start getting back their strength gradually. Keep this low impact without running or jogging, but walking gently as much as you can.

2. Posture Correction

  • Always do your best to stand straight with your butt tucked in and your shoulders pushed back. Slumped shoulders and bent backs put further stress on the spine.
  • Whenever you sit, sit straight with your butt touching the chair at its base. Use a pillow under you if you have posterior pain. Avoid sitting continuously for hours and take a small walk every hour or two.
  • Just like sitting too long, do not stand for long periods as well. Having moved around and stood around, try lying down on one side supporting your leg and abdomen.
  • Wear footwear that is comfortable and secure. If you suffer from posterior pain, avoid taking the stairs or any other activities that worsen it further.
  • Remember to bend knees and hips whenever you get off the bed or bend down to lift anything. Use the strength of your arms to push you off chairs and sofas. While bending, do not lift heavy objects and bend knees to squat lower and pick it up, instead of using only your back.

3. Self-Care Tips

  • Resort to regular meditation and relaxation exercises. Reduce the stress to start reducing the pain in the body. Doing this before sleeping and right after waking up is a good way to begin.
  • Make use of hot water bags or ice packs if the pain gets intense and you need relief. Make sure it is always wrapped in a towel and doesn’t make direct contact with your skin.
  • Treat yourself to a massage once in a while. Specific people are trained to get prenatal massages that are gentle and bring the most relaxation to your body and back.

What to Do if Lower Back Pain Persists?

  • You can take your remedies a step further by resorting to acupuncture for pain relief.
  • Specific physical therapy techniques can be long-term and reduce chronic back pain issues as well.
  • Though there isn’t convincing evidence related to pregnant women, chiropractors could also help set certain alignments right and reduce the back pain in your body.
  • Certain waist belts called “sacral belts” are known to provide the support that some women need. However, these do not work for all and some have reported increased pain on the usage of those.
  • If at all the pain gets extreme, your doctor might prescribe certain medication that’s safe during pregnancy.

When to Consult a Doctor?

  • You’ve tried every technique known to you but there seems to be no relief from the pain.
  • The pain has increased further on and doesn’t seem to subside at all.
  • You have a fever, or start bleeding from your vagina, or in later stages feel that your labour might be imminent.
  • You experience a burning sensation when you urinate.
  • You have been taking pain relievers for quite some time but there aren’t of any use.

With multiple ways to combat the pain, most women start getting relief in one way or another. In certain situations, prior history of the aches can help you take the necessary precautions when getting pregnant. The key is to keep the body healthy and active with regular exercise, and keep the mind stress-free and calm with meditation and relaxing techniques. A combination of all these keeps you pain-free and your baby healthy.

Also Read : Upper Back Pain in Pregnancy