Like it or not, pregnancy has many bedfellows. Back pain is just one of them, but it can be quite persistent. As many as 3 in 4 women experience low back pain during pregnancy. Some recent research even suggests that severe back pain during the third trimester is also associated with poorer birth outcomes, such as a greater risk of Cesarean section. To minimize your low back pain during pregnancy, just follow some of these simple tips.
Prevent Low Back Pain During Pregnancy
Knowing that low back pain is common can be enough information to give you a fair chance at avoiding it altogether. I knew to expect it but didn’t take prevention seriously enough, so learn from me! Put a stop to it before it starts. After all, a strong back can be a great help during labor.
- Exercise. Yoga, stretching, strength training, and targeted lower back exercises for pregnant women can be incredibly helpful. You can strengthen your muscles to prepare for the shifting position of the baby and the increasing weight you’ll have to balance in the front.
- Stay stress-free. Anxiety, stress, and even grudges can result in physically-held tension that can aggravate your lower back muscles. Meditation and regular stress relief can help keep your body in good shape as well as your mind.
- Practice good posture. It’s easy to start slouching with the extra weight and common discomforts from pregnancy. By keeping your posture in line, you can keep your muscles strong during the gradual changes of pregnancy.
- Get your fish oil. Anti-inflammatory agents, like omega 3 fatty acids, are found in fish and some vegetable oils. Because many women cut back on fish during pregnancy, it may be simple to purchase prenatal gummy vitamins with fish oil supplement. Anti-inflammatory substances from the diet and prenatal vitamins can help calm some aggravation in back muscles that leads to pain.
Relieve Existing Back Pain
For those of you already in the thick of it, back pain can make an otherwise pleasant pregnancy miserable. With the go-ahead of your doctor or midwife, try some of these pain relief techniques to kiss your pregnancy-related back pain goodbye.
- Exercise. Again, yoga, stretching, strength training, and targeted exercises can not only prevent back pain, but also help relieve existing pain. Start gently and work your way into a daily routine. Stretch frequently while at home and at work, as well. Your back should feel some almost immediate relief, and with time and dedication, your general pain level should lessen significantly.
- Get a massage. Back rubs can be very soothing for stressed, pained muscles. Have your partner give a massage for even a few minutes every evening, or treat yourself to a weekly half-hour massage session with a pro!
- Consider acupuncture or aromatherapy. Some pregnant women respond well to alternative therapies for back pain—especially when exercise and massage do not help. In some cases, chiropractors may be able to help, too. Just make sure that any practitioner you visit is familiar with the special needs of pregnant women.
- Treat it with temperature. Use a heating pad or alternate hot and cold packs on your lower back when pain gets bad. Take a warm bath or shower to relieve inflammation and pain.
- Try acetaminophen. It is considered a gentle and safe pain relief medication to use during pregnancy, and it may help for some particularly painful time periods.
- Sleep well. In addition to keeping your posture in line during the day, get plenty of rest at night and use extra pillows for back support. Try sleeping on your left side with a pillow behind your back and between your knees. Later during pregnancy, a soft pillow wedged under your belly may also take some of the strain off of your back while you rest.
If your back pain makes it hard to sleep, walk comfortably, or concentrate on regular activities, talk to a health professional. There may be a systemic medical condition causing unusual back pain that can be relieved with treatment. In addition, some types of low back pain may be indicative of labor or other pregnancy problems. Don’t delay if your pain worries you—get professional advice!