Pregnancy may be exciting, but it places an enormous strain on your body. Not only do many women cope with morning sickness, exhaustion and swollen feet, but the changing shape of your body can stress your back in new ways.
Back pain in pregnancy is not dangerous. In fact, it's very normal — more than 50 percent of all pregnant women experience some, particularly in the second and third trimesters1Source: American Pregnancy Association. However, even if it won't harm your baby or damage your body, you still may want relief to help you stay comfortable. Learn more about pregnancy back pain and how to treat it below.
What causes pregnancy back pain?
During pregnancy, your body undergoes many changes that can cause back pain. These include the following:
- Change in centre of gravity. As your bump grows, your centre of gravity moves further forward. This causes many pregnant women to change their posture — they lean back to compensate for the extra weight. This posture change often strains your back.
- Weight gain. As you gain weight to support your growing child, your spine must support that extra weight.
- Changes in hormones. As your body prepares throughout pregnancy for giving birth, it releases a hormone called relaxin. This hormone relaxes and loosens the ligaments and joints in your pelvis. Unfortunately, it can also loosen the ligaments that support your back, leading to pain.
- Stress. Pregnancy can be joyous, but it's often difficult as well. If you're under a lot of stress, you may be unconsciously tensing the muscles in your back, which can lead to pain.
Most pregnancy back pain is normal. However, if you experience severe back pain, especially pain that is sudden or comes in a rhythmic pattern, reach out to your doctor. Otherwise, use the following tips to relieve your pain.
How can you relieve back pain in pregnancy?
After you deliver your baby, your back pain should go away on its own. In the meantime, you can use these tips to treat your symptoms.
Improve your posture
Use your best posture. Your posture may have changed due to your body's new shape, but you can still help your back. Take care to stand up straight with your chest high and your shoulders back and relaxed. Additionally, make sure to take frequent breaks from standing when possible to give your back a break.
When you sit down, make sure to keep supporting your back. Remember not to slouch, and use a chair that supports your lower back. You may find that placing a small pillow between your lower back and your chair helps, as does elevating your feet.
When you go to bed, avoid sleeping on your back. Instead, sleep on your side with one or both knees bent. You may also find that placing pillows between your knees, under your belly or behind your back makes you more comfortable.
Strengthen your back muscles
Much of the back pain you experience is due to your muscles working harder than normal. You can help them out by staying physically active. Exercise will strengthen your back and help your spine support you.
Use hot or cold packs
Both hot and cold packs can relieve pain from sore muscles. Try one or even switch periodically from one to the other. However, don't overdo it: only use a hot or cold pack for up to 20 minutes at a time.
Care for your mind
If you're stressed, you have good reason to be — as previously mentioned, pregnancy can be difficult. However, you can talk to a supportive friend or to a counsellor to help yourself cope with your stress, which may also help reduce back pain.
While these home remedies are often effective on their own, you may still benefit from a visit to a qualified chiropractor. Your spine is under new stress, and a chiropractor can adjust it to keep it healthy and strong, which relieves pain and increases comfort.
To make an appointment with one of our experienced chiropractors, contact our reception.