Back pain is something that most pregnant women experience. It is not common to have lower back pain early pregnancy and it usually starts in the second half of pregnancy. The good news is that this pain indicates the growth of the fetus and is exactly what must happen. However, this can be difficult for the mother to tolerate the pain. However, you can minimize back pain during pregnancy by taking several simple steps.
What is Back Pain During Pregnancy?
Lower back pain is a complication that is very common among pregnant women. This condition is generally painful and can be get worse and more painful during pregnancy. Back pain can cause significant disorders due to weight gain in pregnancy and increased pressure on the spine.
Usually, some women will not experience the symptoms of back pain. On the other hand, the condition may be associated with severe pain in pregnant women. This pain is naturally located above the waist and in the center of the back and the lower back pain increases during pregnancy. This lower back pain may be accompanied by pain in the leg and sole of the foot.
Types of Back Pain in Pregnancy
Lumbar sciatica in pregnancy
When back pain puts pressure on the hips and thighs, it is often mistaken for sciatica. Sciatica is a relatively uncommon and rare condition. True sciatica during pregnancy can be caused by a herniated disc or bulging disc in the lower part of the spine. This condition affects only 1% of pregnant women.
When you suffer from sciatica, your leg pain is usually more severe than your back pain. You may even feel pain under the knee, or it may put pressure on the soles of your feet and toes. You will also experience burning and tingling sensations in your legs or numbness. This disorder will get worse by time.
Back hip pain during pregnancy can spread to the lower part, buttocks and back of the thighs. This type of pain naturally does not enter below the knee and does not exert pressure.
Note that labor pain is a different kind of pain. This pain is similar to severe menstrual cramping and its characteristics are:
- The pain is permanent.
- Intensity and repetition increase in a short period of time.
- It is not affected by your activity level. (While back pain pregnancy is often caused by activity.)
What are the Causes of Lower Back Pain during Pregnancy?
Pregnancy back pain usually occurs at the junction of the pelvis and the spine. There are several reasons for back pain during pregnancy, some of which are:
In a healthy pregnancy, mothers usually gain between 11 and 16 kg. The woman’s spine must bear this weight, which can cause back pain in pregnancy. The weight of the uterus and the growing baby also endures pressure on the blood vessels as well as the pelvis and back area nerves.
During pregnancy, the center of gravity in the pregnant woman changes. Consequently, we may gradually start to adjust our posture and movements, even without noticing that. This may lead to strain or back pain.
When pregnant, our body produces a hormone known as Relaxin. This hormone loosen the joints and allows the ligaments of the pelvic area to relax to make you ready for labor. This hormone can also loosen the ligaments supporting the spine, resulting in instability and pelvic area pain.
Separation of the abdominal muscles
When the uterus expands, the two parallel abdominal muscles that lie between the ribs and the pelvic bone may become separated along the midline. This can make back pain worse for you.
Stress can lead to muscle tension in your back, which can be felt as back spasm or back pain. Pregnant women may experience an increase in their back pain during the difficult moments of pregnancy.
How to Treat Back Pain in Pregnancy?
Back pain pregnancy decreases gradually and spontaneously before the labor, unless the mother had chronic back pain before pregnancy. At the same time, observing the following tips can help in treating lower back pain during in pregnancy:
Regular exercise during pregnancy can strengthen the muscles, increasing their flexibility and reducing the pressure on your spine. Suitable exercises for pregnant women include swimming, walking, and stationary bike workout. A physical therapist or physiotherapist can suggest exercises that make the back and abdomen stronger.
Use cold or hot compress
Applying cold and then hot compress can help reduce back pain. If your doctor agrees, put a cold compress on the painful area for 20 minutes. Do this several times a day to make it more effective. Two/three days later, replace the cold compress with a warm one. You can place a hot water bottle or a heating pad on your back. You must not heat your stomach during pregnancy, which can hurt the baby.
Improve your body condition
Loosening of the body causes spine pain. Therefore, it is a good practice to put the body in the right position when sitting, working, or even sleeping. For instance, if you sleep on your side and put a pillow between your knees, the pressure on your lower back will decrease.
When sitting at a table, put a rolled towel behind you. Place your feet on a small box or a stack of books, sit straight and pull your shoulders backward.
When standing, pull the thighs forward and the shoulders back. This is because pregnant women probably tend to slouch due to the weight of their growing belly.
Do stretching exercises regularly
Ask your midwife or other health care experts about proper stretching exercises. These exercises can make your back and hip muscles strong.
Speak to a psychologist
If the pain you feel in your back is correlated with emotional stress, speaking to a psychologist, trusted friend or a counselor can also help.
As you may know, acupuncture is a type of Chinese treatment that inserts thin needle into specific areas of the skin. Some studies have indicated that this treatment can be helpful in reducing lower back pain pregnancy. If you want to try it, consult your doctor first.
Chiropractic spinal manipulation can be safe for pregnant women if done correctly. But it is necessary to consult your midwife before doing it.
How to Prevent Pregnancy Back Pain
- If you want to lift an object off the ground, it is recommended to squat using your legs instead of bending over.
- Don't use high-heel shoes; short-heel shoes with a suitable arch are a better choice. Remember, since some hormones loosen your joints, probably you need to buy a bigger shoe size.
- Do not lie on your back when sleeping.
- Use medical corsets.
- If our back pain continues, you can also consult our midwife to see what other solution he suggests.
- Always consult your doctor or midwife before taking any painkiller. Acetaminophen is a safe medicine for most women during pregnancy. However, aspirin and some other NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen are not recommended. However, your doctor may also suggest pain relievers or muscle relaxants which are said to be safe medications during pregnancy.
Back pain is usually not a cause for concern by itself. However, you should contact your doctor immediately in case you experience: 1) severe pain, 2) severe increasing pain or a pain that starts suddenly, 3) rhythmic pain 4) difficulty in urinating or tingling sensation in the extremities. It also should be noted that in a few rare cases, the severe pain in back may be associated with other conditions (pregnancy-related osteoporosis, osteoarthritis of the vertebrae, or infectious arthritis). In addition, rhythmic pains can also be a sign of premature labor. Therefore, if you experience one or two of these problems, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.