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8 Ways to Relieve Your Back Pain During Pregnancy

by Katlyn Joy | August 21, 2013 10:14 AM
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It is estimated that between 50 and 80 percent of pregnant women suffer from back pain. Typically the onset of lower back pain occurs between the fifth and seventh month of pregnancy, but some women will experience it as early as the eighth week.

One big reason for back pain is obvious; the weight you put on during pregnancy puts added stress on your spine and muscles. As your pregnancy progresses, so too might your aches and pains. Also since your weight gain won't be too well distributed, you will experience an awkward change in your center of gravity which often messes with your posture.

Hormones play a role as well, since they can relax the ligaments in your body and loosen the joints. While that is helpful during labor, it can be a pain literally during pregnancy.

Finally, stress can increase your pain. When we are stressed, we tend to get muscle tightness which can lead to soreness in the back or even muscle spasms.

Types of Pregnancy Back Pain

One type of back pain in pregnancy is lower back pain. This means pain at or above the waistline and at the center of the back. This lumbar pain can be exacerbated by things such as prolonged standing, sitting or lifting repeatedly. This pain may also radiate and extend into your leg or foot.

The most common type of pregnancy back pain is posterior pelvic pain. This pain is felt beneath the waistline and may be on the sides or across the tailbone area. It may hurt into your thighs, buttocks or in your pubic region. It may cause morning stiffness.

Certain activities may make the pain worsen such as getting up from a seated position, rolling out of or in bed, going up stairs, lifting, twisting and bending, and running or walking.

8 Ways to Relieve Back Pain

1. Be careful with lifting.

Always lift by squatting and taking the load onto your legs rather your back. Also limit how much you lift and how often. Break loads into smaller portions whenever possible. Use a cart or other way to limit how much you must lift or carry. Don't carry heavy or wriggling toddlers unless necessary.

2. Sleep with your back in mind.

This means don't sleep on your back particularly after you've entered your second trimester. Sleep on your left side, and try placing a pillow between your knees for better comfort and support. If your mattress is too soft to be supportive enough, place a board between the mattress and box springs.

3. Sit up straight and mind your posture.

Not only will Mom be proud, but your body will be better able to handle the pressures of pregnancy if you keep your spine properly aligned. Never lock your knees, sit up straight with chin up and shoulders back and relaxed.

4. Forgo the fashion trends and ditch the heels.

Wear supportive low heeled shoes. Nothing too flat will help though. Also, consider getting a maternity support belt to see if that helps. Also when shopping for maternity pants and skirts, look for a nice waistband that is designed to help keep you supported.

5. Keep moving.

Try gentle exercise as approved by your doctor. Good options include swimming or water exercise, prenatal yoga and gentle stretches. Keeping your muscles in shape can help you keep your posture aligned and your pain diminished.

6. Rest with your feet elevated when you feel the need.

Take a time out and rest your aching feet and legs and give your back a break at the same time. Aim for doing this for at least ten minutes once or twice a day.

7. Use heat or cold to help relieve pain.

You can try a hot water bottle, a heating pad set on low, a warm shower, or a cold compress. Don't allow yourself to be exposed to temperature extremes so wrap any hot or cold compresses in a towel. For best relief, leave the pack on for twenty minutes and do them several times a day, alternating between hot or cold for sessions.

8. Get a massage.

Get a loved one to rub gently using a non-irritating lotion or massage gel. Sometimes the massage will feel best after using a heating pad or other heat compress. If you can afford it, opt for a prenatal massage from a massage therapist.

Talk to your doctor if your back pain doesn't improve or if it gets more intense or persistent. You may be able to take some pain reliever if necessary but only if your health care provider approves it. Another option may be to see a physical therapist. This specialist can help you with your pain and teach you how to do exercises and keep proper posture in order to alleviate future pain.

Katlyn Joy is a mother to 7 children, and a freelance writer. She earned her Master of Arts in Creative Writing and Poetry, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and was previously an adviser to new mothers on breastfeeding through a maternity home program. She currently resides in Colorado with her family.

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