Imagine strapping a five pound weight to yourself for three months. Five pounds really isn’t that much. And surely after three months you’ll hardly notice it’s there.
Now add one more pound every week for another six months. By the end of month nine you’ll be lugging around an extra 29 pounds. And you have to carry it 24/7, no exceptions. Now that’s a bit more strenuous compared to the 5 pounds we started off with, isn’t it?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, this is actually the formula for healthy weight gain in a pregnant mother. While the end result of all that work is very rewarding for the expectant mother, it’s easy to see why back pain is so common during pregnancy. But believe it or not, that’s only part of the reason…
Causes of Pregnancy Back Pain
Increasing hormones. During pregnancy, the body releases hormones such as relaxin that relax the muscles and joints around the pelvis to prepare for childbirth. When those joints and muscles shift, it affects how your back supports the extra weight from your baby and can cause back pain.
Muscle separation. As the uterus expands, the rectal and abdominis muscles may separate along the center seam which can worsen back pain during pregnancy.
Change in your center of gravity. The increase in weight towards your front pulls your body forward, causing a change in posture and increased stress on your back.
Baby weight. Healthy weight gain during pregnancy is anywhere from 25 to 37 pounds. This necessary weight gain alone adds to the burden your back is already supporting.
Pregnancy should be one of the happiest times for a mother and her family. But it’s hard to make happy memories when you’re in pain — and as many as 4 in 5 expectant mothers experience pregnancy back pain. Fortunately, there are some safe and simple ways to both prevent and ease back pain during pregnancy.
Simple Tips to Help Prevent Back Pain During Pregnancy
- Squat and lift with your legs instead of bending over. This helps put less stress on your back and can prevent unnecessary back pain.
- Wear comfortable shoes and avoid heels throughout your pregnancy.
- Pay attention to how you sit and stand. Slightly elevate your feet when possible, and make sure your back is properly supported.
- Practice good posture by standing straight and tall to put less strain on your back muscles.
- Try sleeping on your side instead of your back and putting a pillow between your knees to help keep your back properly aligned while you sleep.
4 Safe Ways to Ease Pregnancy Back Pain
#1 Hot Baths A hot bath has proven to be a pregnant woman’s best friend for ages. The warm water decreases muscle spasms, relieves pain, and loosens up tense muscles while you relax. Be careful getting in and out of the tub as you’re going to be more off balance than usual during your pregnancy. Keep the water no hotter than 100 degrees — you can use one of those baby bath rubber duckies to ensure the water isn’t too hot for either you or your baby.
#2 Seating Aids Simply sitting in your chair can become difficult while pregnant. Maintaining good posture becomes more difficult, but also more important to avoiding back pain. Fortunately we have a couple good seating aids to consider right on this site.
The Freedom Back is a support pillow that corrects your posture while you’re sitting down. The contours of the Freedom Back are designed to fit the shape of your entire back from the top of your back down to your hips. It has a unique spinal channel to give you full support without putting pressure on your spinal column. It even has a built in massager that soothes and relaxes your muscles and promotes good circulation and blood flow. It runs on AA batteries so you can use it almost anywhere, including at work or in your car.
The Back Joy Core is a back orthotic that you actually sit on like a seat cushion. Just sitting on the Back Joy instantly improves your posture and takes pressure off your spine. It actually forces you to sit up straight which strengthens your core muscles and helps prevent future back pain flare-ups.
#3 The Lose the Back Pain System is our top-selling program for back pain, and yes, it’s safe to use while pregnant! Back pain is virtually always associated with muscle imbalances… that cause postural dysfunctions… that lead to back pain. The Lose the Back Pain System helps you identify the specific physical dysfunctions you have and provides simple, easy-to-perform corrective stretching and strengthening exercises. Many get relief in minutes and we absolutely guarantee that you will get noticeable back pain relief within 30 days if you’ll just try this program.
#4 Acupuncture Everything I’ve talked about up to now you can do yourself for free or at low cost, but acupuncture is a powerful pain relief option that’s actually safe during pregnancy. For over 2500 years, acupuncture has been used to relieve pain and promote health by inserting ultra-thin needles into the body. These cause the nervous system to release chemicals that relieve pain and inflammation and aids the body’s natural healing abilities.
In a study by Kaj Wedenberg, MD, PhD, the assistant chief of Ob-Gyn at Central Hospital in Vasteras, Sweden, 60 pregnant women were monitored and given physical therapy versus acupuncture for lower back pain. The women who received acupuncture had significantly better pain relief than women who had physical therapy only. Wedenberg stated, “This preliminary study showed that acupuncture can reduce low back pain and disability in just a few simple treatments.”
What’s particularly interesting about this study is they used ear acupuncture which is very safe for pregnant women. You can watch a video on ear acupuncture for back pain that I shot with licensed acupuncturist John Howard on a very effective form of this type of acupuncture.
So there you go. Five simple ways to relieve pregnancy back pain. Of course, there’s always room for more great suggestions so please leave a comment below and share your favorite tips on preventing pregnancy back pain or getting rid of the pain once it starts.
Acupuncture Helps Relieve Pregnancy’s Low Back Pain. WebMD. 2000 Jul 6.
Wedenberg K, Moen B, Norling A. A prospective randomized study comparing acupuncture with physiotherapy for low-back and pelvic pain in pregnancy. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica. 2000 May;79(5):331-5.