Back Pain During Pregnancy
One of the discomforts that most afflicts us women during pregnancy is back pain because as the pregnancy progresses, the volume of the belly and the weight it supposes, makes us adopt bad postures and in consequence we suffer some discomfort in the back.
Although it is an effect of gravity on our body, the tension that occurs in the lower back can cause back pain and compromise our well-being.
About 65% of pregnant women suffer from back pain during pregnancy
Both hormonal changes and the growth of the uterus can cause a slight curvature in the lower back as a way to compensate for weight gain.
If you are pregnant and suffer from back pain, don’t worry! About 65% of pregnant women suffer from it, being more common and intense in the last months of pregnancy. So that you can prevent back pain and discomfort, here are some key tricks for changing bad postures and relieving pain.
As pregnancy progresses, the weight and discomfort of the belly cause discomfort, poor posture, which causes great back pain.
We will look at the causes, types of pelvic waist pain, lumbar pain, sciatic nerve pain, and how to relieve back pain in pregnancy.
Why does back pain occur during pregnancy?
Back pain during pregnancy is most likely due to the growth of the belly and the hormonal changes typical of this stage.
The increase in weight and volume of the uterus can cause the abdominal muscles to shift and the posture we adopt progressively changes to compensate for that forward tilt.
Since our back is under a lot of pressure, it is normal for these modifications to cause us discomfort or pain, especially when we have to stand or sit for a long time throughout the day. On the other hand, the baby can exert pressure on a nerve, also causing back pain.
In addition to poor posture, the baby’s weight can cause back pain by causing pressure on a nerve.
Although bad postures are a mechanism for the body to restore its center of gravity, the hormonal changes of pregnancy also relax the joints and ligaments that connect the pelvic bones to the spine to facilitate the passage of the baby through the birth canal during birth.
The pain may even continue after the baby is born, but it’s only a matter of weeks before it goes away.
What types of back pain may I experience during pregnancy?
The onset of back pain during pregnancy usually begins around the 18th week and its greatest intensity is usually experienced between the 24th and 36th weeks. Although the causes are the same, the characteristics of the pain vary depending on each case, location and intensity.
In the 18th week the back pain begins during pregnancy, increasing the pain in the 24th and 36th weeks.
Let’s look at the types of back pain you may experience during pregnancy, and each of its symptoms.
Back pain in the pelvic girdle
Posterior pelvic pain is pain felt in the back of the pelvis. That is, on the inside of the buttocks or on the back of the thighs.
Back pain in the pelvic girdle is most likely to occur after some of these activities:
- Climbing stairs.
- Entering or exiting the shower
- Turning in bed
- Sitting or rising from an armchair
- Lifting heavy things
Back pain in the pelvic girdle is the most common pain during pregnancy, and generally appears with poor movement.
This type of back pain during pregnancy is the most common, although it is also possible that many women suffer from lumbar back pain. If you make movements that involve flexing your hips such as sitting or bending, they can intensify posterior pelvic pain.
Lumbar back pain
Lumbar back pain is one of the most common and is located just in the lower back, ie near the lumbar vertebrae.
The pain is very similar to that experienced on the low back before pregnancy. The pain is usually felt at the novel of the waist, as if it were placed on the spine and around it.
Lumbar back pain is very common in pregnancy
When sitting or standing for long periods of time, or lifting very heavy objects, the pain may intensify and you may feel stronger at the end of the day.
Pain in the sciatic nerve
When pain in the lower back moves to the thighs and legs, many women may confuse it with sciatic nerve pain, but before doing so it’s important to be aware of the real symptoms.
The pain that occurs because the sciatic nerve, appears in the spine and is pressured by tense muscles or by inflammation of a disc in the lower part of the spine.
This pressure and tension causes much pain and swelling throughout the lower back, to the point of extending from the legs to the feet. Fortunately, it only affects 1% of pregnant women, so it is very unlikely that you will suffer from it.
Only 1% of pregnant women on back pain in the sciatic nerve
If you experience pain in the sciatic nerve, you may experience more severe pain than normal, accompanied by numbness or tingling in the legs and pain below the knee, which may even radiate to the foot. If the pain is severe, you may also feel numbness in your groin or genital area.
The pain is most likely to occur in the last few months of pregnancy.
Tricks and postures to avoid back pain in pregnancy
As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll notice how simple actions like walking and sitting make it difficult for you to feel uncomfortable. In order not to be hit so much changes and avoid back pain, it is necessary to take care of this from the beginning, seeking a good posture.
So that you can avoid its appearance, we share with you a series of recommendations, tricks and key postures that will help you reduce back pain in pregnancy when it arises:
- Stand upright: One of the most important things to avoid back pain during pregnancy is posture, so try to keep your back upright. To achieve this, imagine someone pulling your head towards you, stretching your whole back. As pregnancy progresses, you must keep your shoulders back and your buttocks inward to adopt the correct posture.
- Distribute your body weight well when standing: If you are going to stand for a long time, try to distribute your body weight well between both legs, and from time to time place one of your legs on a stool so that you can relieve the strain on your back.
- When you have to spend a lot of time sitting, always make sure to keep your back straight and upright, preferably resting on the side of the chair or armchair. You can also try resting your feet on a stool or placing a cushion behind your waist. Also remember to pause and walk a little to avoid possible discomfort.
- When bending over, always bend your knees: When you have to bend over, try to bend your knees as much as possible and when doing so, put one leg in front of the other. This way you will feel comfortable and stable whenever you have to pick up an object or vacuum.
- Pay attention to movements: If you feel the characteristic pelvic back pain, try to limit certain activities such as climbing the sclares, or exercises where you must make very exaggerated movements of the hip or spine.
- Don’t abandon the exercise routine: If you like to do physical activity such as gymnastics, yoga or pilates, you don’t need to abandon it, just remember to consult your doctor first to avoid any inconvenience. Kegel exercises are highly recommended during pregnancy. Don’t stop doing them!
- Lying on your side while sleeping: In order to sleep and rest better, ideally you should lie on one side as it is a position that benefits blood circulation and is comfortable during the last months of pregnancy. Try bending one or both knees and place a pillow between your legs for more support. If you want to change position, avoid sleeping on your belly.
- Be careful when getting out of bed: Not only is your posture important when sleeping, but also when getting out of bed. When you want to do so, bend your knees and legs, turn your body to one side, support your hands and stretch your arms to lift your body, so that your feet hang out of bed.
- Don’t refuse help from your family: Sometimes it is advisable to let someone else do for us the tasks that require a lot of movement on our part, as it is the best way to prevent back pain.
Practice low-intensity exercises, such as stationary cycling, walking, or swimming.
How to relieve back pain during pregnancy?
Back pain during pregnancy is a very common discomfort and you don’t have to worry, but if you already suffered this type of pain before becoming pregnant, you will be much more prone to lower back discomfort.
So that you know what to do when the pain appears, we offer you some recommendations that will help you reduce back pain during pregnancy:
1. Do stretching exercises
Stretching exercises are excellent in these cases, as they increase the flexibility of the back and leg muscles.
The best thing about this type of exercise is that they are extremely simple and you can do it from home. However, try not to practice them abruptly, as you could distend the joints, which are more relaxed due to the pregnancy hormones.
To relieve back pain, lie on your back and bend your legs over your belly so that your spine is straight.
It is also advisable to practice yoga for pregnant women, which apart from strengthening your muscles, improves your balance, increases your flexibility and relaxes your body.
2. Strengthen your muscles
You may feel back pain and the last thing you want to do is move around to do exercises, but staying at home for a long time, to the point of being sedentary hurts you twice as much.
Sometimes the pain is not muscular in origin, but if you strengthen them through exercise, you will relieve tensions in other parts of the body.
During pregnancy, exercise is completely recommended, as long as it does not put a great strain on your condition or your doctor prohibits it. The most recommended during this stage are yoga, swimming, walking, stationary bicycle and Pilates.
You can also try a type of workout that includes lifting weights, as it will help strengthen the muscles that support your back and legs, including your abs.
Although there are still not many studies on the practice of acupuncture during pregnancy, those that have been performed so far indicate that it is safe as a remedy to relieve low back pain.
Acupuncture is a technique that uses the pressure of small needles at strategic locations in the body so that the body releases energy or chemicals needed to cure pain on its own.
If you decide to try, remember to consult your doctor beforehand.
One of the best alternatives for relieving tension and pain in the back are massages. Prenatal massages are not only permitted during pregnancy, but are extremely wonderful for relief and relaxation.
You can go to a specialized center where a trained therapist applies a relaxing prenatal massage, or simply ask your partner or a friend to give you a light massage.
It is important that this massage is given by a specialist in the field.
Pay attention to footwear
Sometimes the solution to back problems can be in our feet. As your centre of gravity varies, it is essential that your footwear provides great support and is comfortable to wear at all times.
The most recommended shoes are low and comfortable, but if you prefer something more feminine, low heels with good support in the arch of the foot are beneficial. As for the high heels, it is better to avoid them because they increase the pressure on the muscles of the waist.
Hot and cold compresses
According to some studies, heat can provide temporary relief in the area, but it’s also a great idea to apply a little cold to numb the pain. You can alternate or simply use the one that gives you the most relief.
Apply them directly on the back, during a maximum of 20 minutes, changing it of place so that it covers all the zone, also you can submerge in a tub with warm water to relax. Cold compresses can help prevent and reduce inflammation, but whether it’s cold or hot, you need to cover them with a cloth to protect your skin.
It is very common to experience back pain from sleeping in a bad posture. You can buy a pillow for pregnant women, it will help you sleep better and avoid back pain.
When it comes to back pain during pregnancy, medication is not recommended, unless it is safe for pregnancy, such as acetaminophen. However, we recommend that you never start a treatment without your doctor’s approval.
Although back pain during pregnancy is a very common symptom, if it is acute and intermittent in the lower back or at hip level and you are in your last weeks of pregnancy, we recommend that you go to the doctor immediately, as it can be a sign of premature birth or something more serious.
Although back pain is a very common symptom during pregnancy do not hesitate to consult a doctor for your particular case.