Relieving Back Pain in Pregnancy

Back pain is a very common symptom during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester of gestation. It is estimated that almost 50% of pregnant women suffer from this type of discomfort, specifically in the lumbar or lumbopelvic region.

If you are pregnant, you will be interested to know what are factors related to back pain and what you can do to prevent it from appearing.

If you already suffer from it, remedy it! If you stay in New York, go to a professional like TSRG in NYC to analyze its origin and treat the cause that triggers it, and follow the recommendations we give you in this article to minimize its impact on your quality of life.

Back pain in pregnancy

One out of every two pregnant women has low back pain.

This pain, known as lumbalgia or lumbosciatica, is located in the lower part of the back, on the sides of the sacrum and towards the buttocks, and can even extend to the back of the thighs, without going beyond the knees.

It is not usually a constant pain but is related to movement and may affect one or both sides of the back and limbs. It is usually aggravated while standing, walking, when turning while sleeping in bed, when bending the trunk, when lifting objects, etc.

During pregnancy, the normal curves of the spine are modified to counteract the increase in the size of the uterus and its contents, and thus ensure vertebral functions and dynamics.

As the position of the body’s center of gravity changes, pregnant women often experience low back pain, but also dorsal or cervical pain during pregnancy due, in most cases, to muscle contractures resulting from these compensations.

It is important to prevent low back pain from becoming chronic until the end of pregnancy or beyond delivery, not only because it interferes with the normal functioning of the pregnant woman’s musculoskeletal system, but also because, according to a recent study, there is a 10 times greater possibility of suffering urinary incontinence if the back pain continues postpartum.

Causes of low back pain in pregnancy

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, half of the pregnant women experience low back and/or pelvic pain during pregnancy, and it is most frequent between the fifth and seventh months.

It is advisable for pregnant women to be aware of the changes that their bodies may undergo during pregnancy and to learn how to avoid the onset of pain or minimize it if it does appear.

Among the causes that predispose women to suffer low back pain during pregnancy are the following:

  • Weight gain above medical recommendations, which forces the lumbar musculature to make an extra effort, increasing the risk of contracture.
  • Relaxation of the abdominal muscles: the increase in the size of the uterus distends the abdomen and increases the physiological lumbar curve of the pregnant woman. But if, in addition, the deep abdominal musculature (transverse abdominal muscle) is not competent, the belly falls above the pubic symphysis, in what we call a pendulum abdomen. To prevent this from happening, it is essential to learn how to exercise the deep abdominal musculature and to put it into practice during pregnancy.
  • Weak buttocks: we have already told you what good buttocks can do for your pelvic floor. In the case of pregnant women, a gluteal musculature with adequate tone and strength will help stabilize the lumbopelvic region, working as a team with the lumbar spine and pelvic floor.
  • Hyperlordosis or excessive increase in the curvature of the spine is related to the contracture of the lumbar musculature, which is forced to make a greater effort, triggering back pain in this area, which can sometimes radiate to the legs.
  • A sedentary lifestyle: unless the pregnant woman is medically prescribed to remain at rest, regular physical activity is recommended in order to have better postural control, correct joint biomechanics, and toned muscles, which adapt to the changes inherent to pregnancy and arrive on the day of delivery in the best possible condition.
  • The hormonal changes inherent to pregnancy: the increase in the hormone relaxin causes joint hypermobility which affects the sacroiliac, sacrococcygeal and symphysis pubis joints.

10 recommendations for back pain in pregnancy from Physiotherapy

To prevent the onset of back pain during pregnancy or to alleviate it when it has already appeared, it is necessary to maintain correct postural hygiene and, as long as your doctor has not prescribed rest, stay active and do physical exercise.

Ideally, you should put yourself in the hands of a physiotherapist specializing in obstetrics and gynecology who will design a specific exercise program for you, with the aim of, on the one hand, toning those muscle groups most susceptible to weakening and, on the other hand, regulating the tone through relaxation and gentle stretching of those muscles most prone to contracting.

In addition, I recommend that you keep in mind these ten tips that will be useful in order to stay in shape during pregnancy and get to the day of delivery in the best conditions:

  1. Become aware of your body and know the physiological adaptations it will undergo during pregnancy, including those related to the perineal muscles, an essential part of your body during this stage of your life.
  2. Practice swimming or prenatal gymnastics in the water. Exercising in the pool in a controlled manner, if there are no specific contraindications, helps to reduce pain when it already exists and to prevent it when it has not yet appeared. In addition, it will help you to be and feel fit, improving your physical condition for childbirth.
  3. Discover the benefits of prenatal yoga and practice it. If you have never done a yoga session before, we invite you to try it today from home with this session that our prenatal yoga expert, Susi Mas, has prepared for you.
  4. Maintain correct postural hygiene when standing, sitting, lying down, and changing posture, as explained in this article. Avoid spending long periods in the same position, move around taking short walks and change your posture frequently.
  5. Watch your footwear: try to find comfortable shoes and avoid high heels, as they will aggravate muscular imbalances.
  6. Avoid carrying weight and if you have to, divide it into smaller loads and learn how to lift and carry them properly with these recommendations.
  7. Say “No!” to a sedentary lifestyle. Take time to rest whenever you need it, but do not confuse it with lying down and resting all day ;), unless your doctor has prescribed it. In this post from the colleagues of Maternidad Fácil, you will find a selection of the best exercises for pregnant women.
  8. Learn relaxation techniques. They will be useful when managing the discomfort of pregnancy if they appear; You can resort to them the day of delivery when you start to feel the contractions and will continue to help you in the postpartum when you need to find calm before the whirlwind of emotions that appears when we give birth.
  9. When you sleep, try to sleep on your side, with one or both knees bent and a pillow between them. As your belly grows, it is advisable to use a wedge-shaped pillow under your abdomen to support it.
  10. Pamper yourself with a prenatal massage session. Because during these months of waiting, massages relieve tension, relax your overloaded muscles, improve circulation and thus fluid retention, and regulate the nervous system. Go to a physiotherapist and treat yourself to some relaxation time.

Relieve low back pain during pregnancy

In addition to these ten general tips, which in no case replace the medical recommendation on a particular physical condition, a true preparation for childbirth, as we physiotherapists understand it in this field, should include training of the pelvic floor muscles and preparation of the perineum for the moment of delivery, through the practice of perineal massage. 

Take advantage of this stage of your life to consciously experience all the changes that accompany your body day by day. Take care of yourself and turn to the various health and physical activity professionals who will guide you to live your pregnancy in a healthier and fuller way.