Studies suggest that up to 90 percent of pregnant women will experience low back and/or pelvic pain related to their pregnancy and 10 percent of those will report discomfort severe enough to disrupt their daily routines.
What causes pregnancy-related back pain in the first place?
When pregnant, it’s normal to gain more than 30 pounds. This extra weight places considerable stress on your back, feet, ankles and knees. As your baby grows, your core abdominal muscles become stretched and may not be able to provide as much support to the pelvis and spine. and stabilize your posture as well as they did before.
In the third trimester, levels of a hormone called ‘relaxin’ increase by ten times. Relaxin loosens your joints to allow your pelvis to accommodate your enlarging uterus. These loose joints force the muscles in your back and pelvis to work overtime to keep you upright and balanced. This extra stress may lead to back pain.
The pain also contributes to other problems, such as sleep disturbances, use of pain medication and disruption of activities of daily living — sometimes just standing for half an hour can prove too painful to manage.
To help prevent low back pain and other aches, expectant mothers can perform simple core strengthening exercises that can help reduce stress on their back. The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect your back during pregnancy.
Try these tips to help minimize your risk of back pain:
Exercise can go a long way to increase muscle support for your aching back. Low impact cardiovascular activities, such as swimming, walking or stationary cycling can help relieve pain and maintain fitness. Remember to consult your physician or a health care professional before starting a new exercise regimen.
Sleep on your left side to reduce the pressure your uterus puts on the large blood vessels in your abdomen. This position improves blood flow to both you and your baby.
Place a pillow between your knees to take the pressure off your lower back when sleeping on your side.
Support Your Body
With the added weight, support has never been more important. Wear flat, supportive shoes and use a lumbar support pillow in your chair at home or work. If you sit at a computer or desk, walk around for a few minutes each hour.
Take frequent, short breaks with your feet elevated. Adequate rest restores your energy and gives your back a chance to relax.
To treat and help prevent muscle strains and joint pain, consider including a chiropractor as part of your team of maternity care professionals. A chiropractor can help decrease the pressure on your joints, muscles and nerves of the spine and pelvis to provide safe, effective and drug-free pain relief.
To find a chiropractor near you, use the chiropractor locator on our website. In Ontario, you can visit a chiropractor without a referral from a doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care professional.