Pregnancy back pain is common, and it’s not hard to figure out why. Those adorable baby bumps actually throw off our centre of gravity – pregnancy waddle anyone?
Besides making us a little more top-heavy than usual, pregnancy also does some crazy things to our ligaments. They become softer and stretchier, in readiness for giving birth. But this puts a strain on our joints, lower back and pelvis – and hello back pain. But there are some really easy ways to ease the ache. From switching out your footwear to investing in support garments, there’s no need for pregnancy to be a pain in the back.
Here are 7 simple ways to help ease pregnancy back pain.
1. Correct posture
We’re not saying you need to walk around balancing a book on your head, but just try reminding yourself to stand up straight and tall. It’s easier said than done – because your shifting centre of gravity is pulling you forward, and you’re most probably compensating by leaning back. This could strain the muscles in your lower back, and cause some pain.
So, keep your chest high and pop those shoulders back, while keeping them relaxed. Try not to push your belly forward and avoid sitting or standing for too long. You might even find sitting on an exercise ball while at a desk or table helps keeps your posture in check.
2. Wear supportive garments
There’s no need to put the high heels in storage, but if you are experiencing back pain, it may help to shelve them just for a little while. High heels tend to shift your balance forward even further. Combined with a belly already pulling you forward and it’s not only a cause of backache but a fall hazard. Invest in a good pair of flats with arch support. On the bright side, most expecting mums go up a shoe size anyway, so you’re going to need to expand the shoe collection anyway!
Another way to support your back is by using a pregnancy belly band. They’re really helpful when doing exercise as they help give compression and support (the same way a sports bra does). They also encourage correct posture, and stop you from leaning too far back to compensate for your growing belly.
3. Don’t lift heavy things
We know, it’s difficult when you’ve got a toddler who needs cuddles, but just be mindful of the extra strain that’s already on your body. Remember, your ligaments are softer and stretchier than usual.
If you do need to lift something, use the correct technique. Squat down to the object and lift with your legs. If you’re carrying the shopping, make sure you balance the weight between both hands. Sydney neurosurgeon and spinal expert Dr Richard Parkinson says nothing will injure a back faster than lifting too much weight in front of your body. “Try to keep the weight as close to your centre of gravity as you can, rather than reaching out. Turning your body at the waist while lifting is also a huge no-no – especially when pregnant. Avoid forcible bending, twisting or pulling as much as you can while carrying heavy weights; which include children!”
4. Sleeping position
If you want to avoid waking up with a sore and stiff back, sleeping on your side is the way to go. Keep in mind that by around week 27 in pregnancy, it’s recommended to sleep on your side.
Sleeping on your back means a lot of added pressure on your ligaments and back, so shift to your side, and pop a pregnancy pillow between your bent knees or belly for extra support. A firm mattress that supports your body also helps support your changing body.
5. Grab a massage
Even if we do all the right things, some expecting mums will still get pregnancy back pain. And for some, additional stress adds to back pain, because stress gathers in the weaker areas of your body. Helping to relax your muscles is one way to take the edge of the ache.
Try a warm bath, or a pregnancy massages to help soothe sore muscles. Or try using a heat pack or an ice pack on the painful area. It may help loosen stiff muscles.
6. Stretch it out
Adding some physical activity to your day helps keep those back muscles strong, which could help avoid pregnancy back pain altogether. Try walking or simple stretches or light exercise, or take up pregnancy yoga. Swimming is also a fantastic way to get some body movement in your day, and get the pressure off your back for a little while.
There are also some simple back stretching exercises that may help – including the prenatal cat and cow yoga poses. They help release tension in the upper back and shoulder, and take the pressure off your growing belly off your spine.
7. Use your breathing
It gets a little squishy inside your body towards the end of pregnancy. Your organs are being pushed aside to make room for bub, which means a diaphragm that can’t really work the way it usually does. This then leads to a rib cage that doesn’t move normally, which can cause back pain.
A really simple way to ease the squeeze is to use breathing techniques that help your rib cage move the way it should. Try deep breathing, concentrating on making your ribs expand out and up when inhaling and in and down when exhaling. By getting your breath right into your ribcage, you’ll be helping to release tightness in your lower and middle back muscles. Bliss!
FAQs about backache during pregnancy
Should I worry about pregnancy back pain?
Don’t suffer in silence – any pain in pregnancy should really be checked out by your doctor or midwife. Sometimes back pain could be a sign of preterm labour. So if your back is giving your grief, seek professional medical advice from your care provider as soon as possible.
Does back pain disappear after giving birth?
Good news mummas – for most of us, pregnancy-related back pain disappears not long after birth. It can last for up to six months postpartum, though, so make sure you’re still following the advice above to help keep your back pain free. Of course, if your back pain lingers after bub arrives, have a chat to your doctor just to rule out any non-pregnancy related back issues.
Will my labour be worse if I have pregnancy back pain?
It’s completely understandable to worry that pregnancy back pain will mean labouring stuck on a bed, rather than moving around. But fear not – most women with back problems are able to labour how they want. Just chat to your care providers before the birth and let them know you’ve been having back issues, so they can help get you in the best birthing positions.
Need more support?
Get more support from other mums-to-be trying to navigate all the aches and pains that go along with pregnancy by joining one of the Mum’s Grapevine Facebook groups. They are grouped together based on your due date so everyone is going through the same things as you at the same time.
Click here >> Mum’s Grapevine Facebook Groups << and find your group today!