Burke Williams Chiropractic: Pregnancy & Back Pain
Pregnancy-related back pain occurs quite commonly for expectant mothers. Various studies report that anywhere from 50% to 90% of pregnant women experience back pain sometime during their pregnancies. While the precise numbers vary, women are generally considered likely to experience back pain sometime during their pregnancy.
Symptoms usually appear or become most prevalent in the last trimester when the baby is gaining the most weight. Common patterns of pregnancy-related back pain include pain in the lower back, or lumbar spine, and pain that feels like it's centered even lower in the frame, in the back, or posterior, of the pelvic area. If pressure is placed on the sciatic nerve or presses on a spinal disc, pain may extend through the hips, buttocks and legs. While most back pain are caused by the normal alteration of the mother’s body during pregnancy, expectant mothers should still consult with their doctor to rule out potential complications from the minor (urinary tract infections) to the major (ectopic pregnancy).
Why Back Pain?
The expectant mother’s body changes physically and chemically in order to nourish the growing baby and to prepare for child birth. There are several common factors that may lead to pregnancy-related back pain.
- Weight increase – A rapid increase in weight occurs during the 3rd trimester does not give the body enough time to cope with this new stress. The effects of this weight gain is also amplified because it is concentrated almost entirely in the abdominal area.
- Hormonal change – A mother’s body begin releasing a hormone that softens up ligaments and other soft tissues in the body. This hormone plays a vital role in allowing the birth canal to widen during child birth. However, prior to the birthing process, this hormone can lower the natural support the body receives from its ligaments and affecting posture.
- Postural change – A growing belly moves the center of gravity forward. In order to carry the added weight, a mother’s hip and pelvis is flexed forward and the low back becomes arched. Increased breast tissue also adds extra weight and stress to this new posture.
Tips to Minimize Back Pain
- Professional care – chiropractic care and massage therapy can greatly reduce the stress and tension in your back and shoulders.
- Exercise - incorporate exercises that gently stretch and strengthen your back and abdominal muscles. Brisk daily walks are a good start. A regular exercise regimen should start during the first trimester. Always consult your physician prior to commencement of exercise program.
- Avoid sitting – sitting puts stress on your low back. Remember to get up frequently if you sit for long hours at work or at home.
- Clothing – wear comfortable shoes and maternity clothes. You can also consider maternity support belts.
- Pain relief - hot or cold therapy such as warm baths, hot bottles, or ice packs can reduce inflammation and spasm in your back. Most pain pills should be avoided during pregnancy.