Low back pain in pregnancy is common. In fact, it is believed at least 50% of women will experience it. However, it is not normal and something you should not have to withstand on top of all the other changes your body goes through during pregnancy.
Lots of things happen to your body during pregnancy, including fluctuating hormones levels, postural changes and more stretchy ligaments. Plus, let’s not forget the increasing weight that your body needs to carry. Your body is designed to deal with a pregnancy and all that it entails, so why do some women feel low back pain and others don’t?
How does your body change and adapt?
As the foetus grows, between months three to six, the abdominal muscles start to stretch with the growing belly, which can cause a pulling effect through the body. This can cause some muscle tension within the shoulders, possibly causing upper back pain and headaches.
During the last few months, structural adaptations really start to progress. Due to baby’s size, your organs and rib cage will be pushed upwards, and the bottom ribs will flare out. Tension during this time tends to be found within the upper back, ribs and neck.
As birth approaches, your centre of gravity will shift from the middle of their body forward, causing the low back to become hollower. This shift, and increasing weight of the baby, can be when you really start to become uncomfortable in the low back.
Throughout the nine months, your ligaments will become softer and more stretchy. Ligament laxity can be another cause of pain in the body.
What can you do about it?
Reducing the common areas of tension is the best place to start. Here are some ways you can safely do this at home:
Make sure you hold each stretch for at least a minute, or until the stretching sensation disappears, on both sides.
Other beneficial things to do include swimming regularly, walking each day and pregnancy yoga. Keeping active during pregnancy, if you are able to do so, helps keep the body mobile as well as strengthens your muscles, in preparation for birth and beyond. Also, don’t forget those pelvic floor muscles!
It is also important to keep your pelvis balanced. So, try to carry shopping in both hands, don’t always carry a child on the same side, and if you ever do an exercise on one side, do it on the other.
If you feel you need further support with alleviating low back pain, do get in touch with an osteopath who can offer more personalised advice.
What if it doesn’t go away?
Always check with a medical professional if you have any pain doing these actions, of if your low back pain persists or worsens over time.
Back pain is common in pregnancy, but in some cases it can be a sign of something more serious. Back pain accompanied by fever, burning during urination or vaginal bleeding should be checked by your doctor right away.
Thank you to Chloe from Chloe Savage Osteopathy for writing this guest blog. If you want to know more you can get in touch with Chloe by visiting her website here. Alternatively, Chloe will be at our next baby show!
- Carvalho MECC, Lima LC, de Lira Terceiro CA, Pinto DRL, Silva MN, Cozer GA, Couceiro TCM. Lombalgia na gestação [Low back pain during pregnancy]. Rev Bras Anestesiol. 2017 May-Jun;67(3):266-270. Portuguese. doi: 10.1016/j.bjan.2016.03.002. Epub 2016 May 21. PMID: 27220735.