Pregnancy is a time of great hope and joy, but also of significant discomfort. Though heartburn and difficulty sleeping are part and parcel of the process, back pain is the problem that seems to surprise and bother women the most.
There’s no question that pregnancy puts tremendous stress on the body’s muscles, and it only gets worse as the pregnancy progresses and the uterus gets heavier.
Mothers naturally try to compensate for the extra weight in front by arching backwards, and that position — called lordosis — is an invitation to strain and pain, which can be made worse by the impact that pregnancy hormones have on connective tissue as your body prepares for delivery.
With stretched and weakened abdominal muscles being overtaxed and a hormone called relaxin loosening the ligaments in your pelvis, you are much more vulnerable to both pain and injury.
The good news is that there are things you can do to counter these effects and stop your back pain in its tracks. Here are just a few.
Pay attention to your posture at all times.Whether you are sitting down, standing or walking, the way that you hold your body will have an impact on how your back feels and the stress that you are putting on the muscles supporting your growing belly.
If you are suffering from back pain, it is time to start thinking about different footwear.If you’ve been wearing heels, stop. Shoes with arch supports may not appeal to your sense of style, but they will make your back feel better. Check out the inserts available at your local pharmacy: putting them in your existing shoes can help.
The importance of supporting your spine and maintaining a healthy position doesn’t stop when you go to sleep.Your mattress should be firm: if it feels like you are sinking, it may be time to replace it. One way or another, put a good-sized pillow between your knees and sleep on your side to keep your spine properly aligned.
If you need to pick something up from the ground, don’t bend at the waist. Instead, squat down and keep your back straight.
Choose chairs that provide good support and allow you to lean back.
Invest in a lumbar support and keep it with you so you can use it wherever you are. There are inflatable versions that make it easy to tuck into a purse.
Speak to your obstetrician to see whether it is okay for you to do exercises that will stretch and strengthen the hamstrings and hip flexors. If so, try to find a prenatal yoga class, which will not only provide those benefits, but will also promote good posture and teach you breathing exercises that will be helpful during labor.