More than half of all women experience back pain in pregnancy. The growing uterus shifts the center of gravity and stretches and weakens the abdominal muscles. The abdominal muscles support the spine and play an important role in the health of the back. Your ever changing posture puts a strain on your back, increasing the low back arch (lumbar lordosis). The extra weight gained in pregnancy means more work for your muscles and increased stress on your joints. The pregnancy hormone, relaxin, relaxes the ligaments in the joints of your pelvis to make them more flexible allowing for the baby to pass through the birth canal. This can make you more susceptible to injury in physical activity and exercise and let’s face it – just walking around in routine activity. Taking care to protect your posture is key.
An interesting fact:
The female pelvic organs are innervated by sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system from the lower thoracic (mid back) and lumbar (low back) regions. This helps explain back pain and pelvic pain with periods and labor.
Is there anything you can do?
Wear abdominal support garments. Belly band or maternity pants that have a wide elastic band that fits under the curve of your abdomen.
Wear a low heal shoe (not flats) with good arch support. Athletic shoes are great for this. Avoid heels. Those of you who know me know I wore too many heals during pregnancy.
When sitting, sit in a chair with good back support or add a lumbar support pillow.
If you lift something, squat down, bend your knees, and keep your back straight. Do not bend at the waist to pick up things.
This might be my favorite thing – I still do this one today. Sleep on your side and keep one or both knees bent with pillow between your knees and another under your belly. Many body pillows are marketed for this but honestly, a few extra pillows do the trick.
Exercise can help with back pain by strengthening and stretching the muscles that support your back and legs which promotes good posture. Walking is great. Swimming is fantastic because the water supports your weight and reduces risk of injury or muscle strain.
Have an adjustment done with a chiropractor or an osteopathic physician.
This is were I can help you. Who better than a Board Certified OBGYN with a decade of experience and a fellowship in neuromusculoskeletal medicine/osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMT) to adjust you? Studies have shown OMT in pregnant women can improve comfort and quality of life as the maternal body adapts to the physiologic and structural changes of pregnancy. Schedule your appointment.
A note: If you have severe back pain, see your obstetric provider – OB or midwife. Back pain in pregnancy could be a sign of a more serious complication such as a kidney infection or preterm labor.