Back pain is one of the most common complaints of pregnant women. Typically, it starts with lower back pain in early pregnancy, and may persist right up until the baby is born. It can range in intensity from mild to severe, and your doctor’s suggested treatments will depend on the degree of pain you are experiencing.
How to Deal with Back Pain During Pregnancy
Back pain during pregnancy is believed to be caused by two principal factors: your changing hormones, and the expansion of your uterus as the baby grows and develops. Weight gain during pregnancy is also believed to play a role in the development of back pain. The extra weight you’re carrying, especially in your belly, puts added strain on your back, which is compounded by the ligament-loosening effects of pregnancy hormones.
Back Pain Relief During Pregnancy
There are several tricks you can use to get back pain relief during pregnancy, including:
- Proper posture. To combat the effects of a shifting center of gravity during pregnancy, be sure to practice proper posture. Keep your chest out, shoulders back, head straight and chin tucked. Do this whether you’re sitting, standing or walking.
- Sleeping on your side. Place a pillow between your knees to keep your spine properly aligned. Sleeping on your back can make lower back pain worse.
- Changing your clothing. Use arch supports in your shoes, and avoid heels if at all possible. Be sure to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that is not restrictive through your waist and chest.
- Lifting with your legs. Never bend at the waist and use your back to lift anything, no matter how light it is. Instead, bend at the knees and use your legs to lift.
- Physical activity. Staying active keeps your muscles limber and prevents them from stiffening up even more, something that would only cause you more pain. Limit your bed rest and do some light aerobics or take a walk around the block every day.
- Alternative therapies. Applying heat or cold packs, or alternating heat therapy with cold therapy, may provide effective relief. You can also visit a registered massage therapist to address any muscle tension or knots that may be developing.
If you are experiencing severe back pain during pregnancy, tell your doctor. Even over-the-counter medications may be contraindicated for pregnant women. Some women have reported that alternative treatments like acupuncture have been very effective in relieving even the worst pregnancy back pain, so it may be worth a try if all else fails.