Growing a tiny human can feel like back-breaking work … literally. Those tell-tale twinges and niggles can make pregnancy a real pain, so here are some expert tips to help ease the ache.
Back pain is one of the most common pregnancy ailments, striking up to three quarters of women who are expecting.
What causes back pain in pregnancy
Sydney neurosurgeon and spinal expert Dr Richard Parkinson says the strain of extra weight on your body is one of the reasons you can feel pregnancy back pain.
“The pain can be caused by a range of factors including … posture changes as your centre of gravity shifts, hormone changes which allows your ligaments and joints to relax and loosen and muscle separation as the uterus expands,” Dr Parkinson explains.
Preventing pregnancy back pain
When it comes to pregnancy back pain, prevention is better than cure, so Dr Parkinson has outlined some of simple ways you can try and stave off back issues.
1. Be careful how you lift:
“The age-old warnings about being careful while lifting still ring true. Nothing will injure a back faster than lifting too much weight too far in front of your body. Try to keep the weight as close to your centre of gravity as you can, rather than reaching out.”
2. No twisting:
Dr Parkinson says to avoid turning your body at the waist, and try and avoid carrying anything heavy during pregnancy – including your other children!
3. Look after yourself:
“It’s a no-brainer, but maintaining your health, weight and lifestyle is probably the simplest healthy back tip to follow. Although weight gain is a normal part of pregnancy, excess weight and body fat puts unnecessary pressure on the back and increases the risk of injury.”
Dr Parkinson recommends things like swimming, brisk walking, prenatal yoga and pilates to strengthen muscles and help ease pregnancy back pain.
4. Quit smoking:
While it may surprise you, Dr Parkinson says smoking can be a ‘silent killer’ for backs.
“If being pregnant or planning to conceive wasn’t already enough of a motivator to quit, here’s another reason; it’s terrible for the lumbar disc. Smoking increases the risk of degeneration in the disc and it increases the risk that you will herniate the disc again if you have a disc herniation.”
Don’t ignore back pain
It’s really important to make sure you consult your doctor or midwife about any pain you’re experiencing during pregnancy.
“If your back pain becomes excessive or you notice any sudden changes – especially if you’ve experienced back problems pre-pregnancy – make sure you seek medical advice. In most cases, taking it easy and adding some light exercise to your routine, such as walking or swimming, will help relieve pregnancy-related back pain.”
Keen to keep your body in tip-top condition during pregnancy? Take a look at our guide at what foods to eat and avoid when you’re expecting.