Back pain during pregnancy often begins in the second trimester of pregnancy and become worse as the time of delivery approaches. Pregnancy is such a unique and exciting journey where you’ll experience various emotions ranging from excitement to fear, anxiety to relaxation, and from pain to comfort.
Generally, most pregnancy symptoms pop-up and then resolve on their own in no time. But pregnancy back pain is one symptom that progressively becomes worsen during pregnancy, making you feel discomfort. From the early months of pregnancy until about 6 months post-natal, you may possibly feel discomfort as a result of back pain.
The weight of human body is supported by the spine and human spinal cord has many curves that serve as shock absorbers and help in the distribution of body weight across your skeleton. However, when a woman becomes pregnant, the entire weight gain is concentrated in the abdominal region or around lumbar spinal cord and this makes your body’s centre of gravity to shift forward and the load on your lumbar spinal cord is increased.
Back pain in early pregnancy is usually mild and common. As the size of your uterus expands due to your baby’s growth, abdominal viscera are further pushed as well, in order to accommodate the expanding uterus thus causing some discomfort.
Back pain during pregnancy is most common in women who are overweight and those who have prior complaints of lower back pain before pregnancy. Women carrying twin pregnancy complaints of more severe back pain than those who are carrying singleton pregnancy.
When you experience pain that cuts across your lower back through to the buttocks and down the legs, this is referred to as sciatica. It’s a result from pressure on the sciatic nerve - the nerve that branches to your pelvis, hips and legs from your back.
The womb provides safe and healthy environment to your growing baby in a way that makes for smooth delivery. During pregnancy, hormones of pregnancy act upon the joints and ligaments which support your spine and softened them. The flexibility of your pelvic ligaments increases especially in build-up towards a safe vaginal delivery.
The impact of increasing body weight on these relaxed joints contributes to back pain during pregnancy. In some pregnancies however, back pain also results from excessive mobility at joints’ level especially towards the end of pregnancy.
Back pain in pregnancy is further aggravated in third trimester of pregnancy when uterus begins to prepare for delivery through active uterine muscular contractions it undergoes.
Intensity or severity of back pain is different in every pregnant woman. There are steps you can take as early as possible into pregnancy to help alleviate back pain during pregnancy and avoid back pain-related labor complications. Here are some tips and guidelines that can help you:
Exercise may be the last thing you may want to do when you’re pregnant but it’s been observed that women who maintain a regular habit of exercising during pregnancy from first trimester are less likely to suffer from back pain in later trimesters.
However, before starting any exercise, it’s very important to consult with your healthcare provider about the exercises that are safe for you in pregnancy. Among the best available options, swimming and yoga are most relaxing and preferred ones during pregnancy. Exercises not only help in improving symptoms of back pain but also improve stamina, especially in readiness for the labor and delivery process.
Perineal massages have long been known to benefit pregnant women in relieving the symptoms of back pain, improving the stability of pelvic floor, easing out the process of labor and improving the performance in pushing during active labor or delivery process.
Physiotherapy is also an effective tool for expecting mom that helps in alleviating the stress during labor and restoring early mobility after delivery. Making out time to get off your feet and lie down on your side for at least 35 minutes is a physiotherapy that has proven helpful. Don’t sit or stand for long periods at home or work, take a break to move around.
However, most women have reported they prefer simple walking and swimming exercises over physiotherapies. Consult with your doctor or obstetric physiotherapist for any additional helpful advice.
Other things you can do to relieve the effects of pregnancy back pain include:
You can see your healthcare provider if: