Pregnancy and back pain. No surprises there. If you’re going to add extra weight to your stomach and abdomen, there’s sure to be trouble in your back, as it tries to compensate it. Most women do experience back pain during pregnancy, but fortunately there are ways to cope with it and lessen its effects.
The one spot where pain is usually the worst is where your spine and pelvis meet, in the sacroiliac joint. There are lots of reasons for this.
Weight gain. A woman will generally gain between 25-35 pounds during pregnancy, and the spine needs to support all that extra weight. Since babies get heavier as they grow, they place more pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in the back and pelvis.
Postural changes. Your center of gravity changes when you are pregnant, and slowly your posture will alter to compensate. This may cause strain or pain in your back.
Hormonal changes. When you are pregnant, your body creates “relaxin,” a hormone that loosens the joints and the ligaments in your pelvis, in order to get your body ready for birth. The loosened ligaments can then cause pain, because they become unstable.
Separation of muscles. When your uterus expands, the rectal abdominis muscles that go from the pubic bone to the rib cage can separate along its seam, and in doing so can cause more pain.
Emotional stress. Stress causes muscles to tighten and that may cause spasms and/or pain. As the pregnancy progresses, the pain can get worse as you get more emotional and stressed.
The good news is that there are ways to help you get through the pregnancy with less pain. You can do regular exercises as long as they are safe and not too strenuous, for example. Swimming, walking and riding an exercise bike are all good, because you will need to strengthen your abdomen and back.
Alternate heat and cold packs on the sore areas. Start with cold for 20 minutes three times per day and after 2-3 days, change to heat packs. However, don’t use the packs on your abdomen while pregnant.
Work on your posture. Sit and stand as straight as you can. When you sleep, lay on your side with a pillow between your knees; this will take the pressure off your back. If you sit at a desk, have a cushion for back support and have a foot rest. Don’t wear high heeled shoes, because they only make your posture worse and cause more pain.
You can have therapeutic massages, but make sure that the specialist knows you’re pregnant, as the actual massage is done a bit differently, to ensure your safety and that of your unborn baby.
If you find that you are feeling depressed, talk to your doctor. Pregnancy can cause it and pain can aggravate it. You may need medication to help you feel better, and allow you to cope with pain easier.
If you have concerns about pain or other issues that don’t seem to go away, you must talk to your doctor, as you may have more serious issues that need attention. If this is your first baby, you will experience lots of things for the first time, and it is always better to be safe than sorry.