During pregnancy around 75% of pregnant women will suffer from some form of back pain. As the body adapts to its changing weight it becomes more susceptible to injury and lower back and leg pain, with the ligaments, discs and joints all placed under extra strain.
During pregnancy the ovaries produce relaxin, a hormone that causes pelvic and cervical expansion and relaxation , which gently stretches and softens the ligaments and muscles to accommodate the growing uterus and prepare the body for labour.
This can all result in a higher degree of curvature of the lower spine, affecting the body’s posture and its ability to rest.
There are preventative and relief measures you can take during pregnancy to avoid back pain. Here are some tips provided by backadvice.info.
Regular rest and pillow talk
Make sure you take time out to rest your body and take the weight off your feet. Soak in a warm bath to soothe tired muscles or surround yourself with pillows, using them to support your body and bump and elevate your legs to stimulate circulation and reduce water retention. Support belts can also be used to give additional support
Be posture aware
As your centre of gravity changes to accommodate your bump, counteract it by standing with your back straight and feet shoulder width apart. When seated, avoid slumping by using a cushioned ring or back support such as the TEMPUR Lumbar Support which fits perfectly to the curve of the spine
Low impact exercise
Many pregnant women experience aching legs caused by poor circulation. Taking regular gentle exercise such as swimming, walking, yoga and Pilates are all great ways of stimulating blood flow and keeping fit during pregnancy. And remember to do your pelvic floors as these will strengthen the lower abdominal muscles at the front of the body, reducing the weight carried by your back
Ditch the heels
Not only will these put more strain on your back but you are also more likely to trip and stumble, putting you and your baby at risk. Opt for a tiny heel or a pretty pump if you love your shoes!
Don’t put any unnecessary strain on your body and that means less housework, minimal bending down and certainly no excessive lifting – so make sure your family helps. If you have other children explain that your body needs looking after and that cuddles take place sitting down! If you absolutely must lift something, hold it close to your body and bend your knees rather than your back
Encourage your partner to look after you with gentle lower back, feet and leg massages. This will help you unwind and relieve your aches and pains. Be aware that some essential oils are best avoided during pregnancy so check with a practitioner first
Insomnia and fatigue are common in pregnancy, with 78% of women reporting more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than at any other time. Try sleeping on your left hand side with knees bent and pillows for support to help circulation and reduce the chance of varicose veins forming. Investing in a good mattress is a must. On conventional mattresses the body is forced to reposition, due to unrelieved pressure – increased by the additional weight of your bump – which restricts blood flow and causes pain. Choose a mattress that moulds to the exact shape and position of the body, offering it full support, keeping the spine aligned and relieving pressure from your over-tired muscles and joints.
Don’t be afraid to pester your midwife, doctor or maternity unit. If you are at all worried about any pains or abnormal symptoms get in touch with an expert immediately. And remember to check which medication you can take during pregnancy as some painkillers are considered unsafe.
Osteopath Geoffrey Montague-Smith is available to provide professional guidance and answer any tricky questions you have about your own back pain at www.backadvice.info.