If you thought you knew back ache before pregnancy, you are going to need to get ready for a whole new adventure, and join millions of other expectant moms who will encounter the same problems.
One thing we need to get abundantly clear from the get go is that back pain is not a trivial matter. Even if it's common, it's not something that should just be accepted as 'part of the pregnancy process' if it's causing immense amounts of distress. It also doesn't necessarily disappear once you give birth.
If you don't address your back pain, you might find it can have a hugely negative impact on your daily life. You might find yourself needing to skip work and, in serious cases, it might even hinder the delivery of your baby.
Estimations say that between 50% and 80% of women experience some form of back pain during pregnancy. This can range from mild pain while doing certain activities, to acute pain that impacts on everything you try to do.
Ulrika Johnson is one celebrity who suffered with agonizing back pain during the pregnancy with her fourth child. It even got to the point where she didn't know if she would be able to go on.
Now, you don't want to be going into your pregnancy without being fully aware of how back pain can affect you. By reading the next fifteen points you can rest assured that you'll be prepared for whatever battle your back wants to give you.
15 It Can Be Experienced During Any Part Of Pregnancy
While you might be silently hoping 'please don't happen to me,' you need to expect to have some back pain during your pregnancy. Remember that you are growing a little person, and back pain is all part and parcel of your incredible role as a mother - though I know it might not be much comfort when your back feels like it's actually on fire. Although it can occur at any point during the 9 months, it's most common when you are going through the second and third trimester.
Back pain is more likely to happen in the later stages because your baby is increasing in weight, and your growing womb puts strain on your ligaments and muscles. Basically, you're body is needing to work harder to support you and your child. However, you also need to be prepared for it so start as early as 8 to 12 weeks into your pregnancy.
14 There Are Different Types
There's not just one sort of back pain that you can have the 'joy' of experiencing during pregnancy. The two most common sorts are lumbar, also known as lower back pain, and posterior pelvic pain.
If you experience lumbar pain, you will find that this is generally located at and above the waist in the center of your back. This pain is comparable to the lower back pain that's experienced by non-pregnant women. Lumbar pain is worsened by prolonged sitting, standing, or repetitive lifting.
You will feel posterior pelvic pain - in the back of the pelvis - below and to the side of your waistline. This is usually considerably more agonizing than lumbar pain. Activities that can worsen posterior pain include rolling in bed, climbing stairs, sitting and rising from a seated position, lifting, twisting and bending forward, running and walking - so basically any movement whatsoever.
13 Weight Gain Is Linked To Back Pain
Gaining weight comes with the pregnancy territory. It's inevitable. However, excessive weight gain during pregnancy can be detrimental to your back.
Excessive weight gain is more common today than in 1990. Typically, a pregnant mom ought to gain 25-35 pounds. If you're underweight it's good to gain a bit more. If you're overweight, you should gain a little less. Additional blood volume, weight of the uterus, the weight of the placenta, the baby and any extra fluid you may be retaining during pregnancy are factored in.
While it's easier said than done, to ease your back pain, you'll need to keep your pregnancy weight manageable. That saying 'if you're pregnant you need to eat for two...' It's not true. During your first trimester you don't need any extra calories and during the second and third trimesters, you'll only need to take in an extra 200 to 300 calories a day.
12 Don't Underestimate A Memory Foam Mattress
Before you were pregnant you were probably capable of sleeping on pretty much anything, from a car floor to the stony ground next to a camp fire. From a hardwood floor to a million year old futon with more lumps and bumps than a mountain range. And you probably weren't effected for more than a few hours at most afterwards.
As an expectant mom though, you need to give some serious thought to what you're sleeping on. While it might be a boring - who likes to go shopping for mattresses, really? - a memory foam mattress really can make the world of difference to your back.
Many moms swear by them and say that they've transformed their sleeping and enabled them to wake up in the morning with virtually no aches. Investing in a memory foam mattress could be the kindest thing you could do for yourself during pregnancy.
11 Massages Can Help
If you have been looking for an opportunity to get yourself a message there's some good news for you. A number of scientific studies have uncovered evidence that massage therapy can work wonders for pregnant women suffering with back pain. It can help you sleep better, improve your mood, reduce edema and relieve nerve pain.
You might be thinking 'but is it safe?' So long as you book an appointment with a therapist who has been trained and certified in prenatal massage techniques you can rest easy.
While you can get a massage during any point of your pregnancy, certain massage parlours will not take women who are in their first trimester. This is because increased statistics state miscarriages are more common during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.
If your partner is giving you a massage at home, it's important they know deep massage techniques are off the cards.
10 Walking, Or Waddling Can Take The Pressure Off
When you have back pain, the last thing you'll probably want to do is exercise. But, from what I've read, walking IN HEEL-LESS SHOES LADIES, really is one of the best things you can do for your back. And, you don't need a gym subscription to do it.
Though talking a walk to ease back pain will be different to the walks you were used to before you were with baby. To reap the benefits, you'll need to walk with your weight back in your heels and your feet at hip distance apart.
Try and walk for 20-45 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week but remember to keep it at a mild and moderate level. No crazy power walks where you're collapsing on a bench at the point of exhaustion. If you're not able to get 20 minutes to yourself, even just 10 minutes can be better than none.
9 Apply Heating Or Cooling Pads Can Help
There's tons of debate on the internet about which works best for back pain. If you want to try heat, use moist options such as hot packs and apply for 15-20 minutes at a time. Moist heat works better than dry to relieve lower back pain. Showers and baths are good too - just don't take them too hot! You can also get an all-day heat wrap which are available in pharmacies. Electric heating pads are also good, but avoid falling asleep on them. Set an alarm to prevent this happening.
If you want to try a cold option, you can use a commercial cold pack or an ice towel. For an ice towel wet a towel with cold water. Squeeze out the water until it's damp and not dripping. Fold it up, put it in a plastic bag then place it in the freezer for 15 minutes before applying.
8 Improve General Posture Before It Gets Worse
We are always being told that posture is everything. And it is. It really is. And never more so than during your pregnancy. Your pregnant belly will shift your center of gravity, so, often your posture can change without even realizing it as you allow your lower back to be pulled forward in a swayback posture.
Your change in posture makes your back muscles short, tight and sore. By standing up straight, you allow your muscles to lengthen and stretch naturally. This makes good posture a great exercises to help ease your lower back pain.
Try and remember to use proper posture when working, sitting, or in bed. When you are at a desk, place a rolled-up towel behind your back for support. Rest your feet on a stack of books or stool and sit up straight, your shoulders back. Wearing a support belt may also help improve your posture.
7 Don't Be Shy To Use Sleep Support
Sleep is an elusive joy during pregnancy, especially if your back is hurting. The best thing you can do is sleep on your side (also known, funnily enough, as SOS) with a pillow between your knees. This helps minimise strain on your pelvis and lower back.
Sleeping on your back should be avoided as this worsens backache. According to BabyCenter, "the weight of your uterus presses on your spine, back muscles, and major blood vessels. This can decrease blood flow around your body" and baby. And forget about sleeping on your stomach! Your tender boobs and blooming belly will make it impossible.
Sleeping on your side gets more important the further your pregnancy develops because it allows optimal blood flow to the baby. It's suggested you sleep on your left side in particular, but there's no evidence left is better than the right. So feel free to shift from side to side.
6 Wear The Right Sized Bra
If you're not sitting down to read this, it might be a good idea to do so. Women can gain up to two pounds in their breasts ALONE during pregnancy. Whether that's a good or a bad thing comes down to personal preference, but still, your puppies are going to weigh a lot and need to be treated right if your back is going to make it through your pregnancy.
Which means, yep, you guessed it, it's absolutely vital to wear a bra that's the right size. Wearing a bra that doesn't fit properly can put too much pressure on your boobs and even cause mastitis, i.e. inflammation of the mammary glands as well as cause plugged milk ducts. And don't you have enough to be worrying about without adding this lot to the list?
Pregnancy comes with plenty of expenses, but if you skimp on a good bra, then you're contributing to your discomfort.
5 Good Shoes Are A Must
If you are anything like me, you won't need to read that title twice as an excuse to get a new pair of shoes. A pair of decent shoes can make a humongous - believe me when I say that I don't use that word lightly - difference to how your body weight is distributed and absorbed. Like with a good bra, a good pair of shoes can really help minimize your back pain.
When you're pregnant, you should avoid (most) flats, flips flops and high heels. Go instead for a comfortable shoe that has a low heel. When you're choosing a pair of pregnancy shoes, go for ones that are easy to put on, have a little extra room and have excellent arch support.
While they might not be all that attractive, the Classic Crocs Clog is a fantastic choice. Birkenstock's are also supremely comfortable and have unbeatable support.
4 Go See A Chiropractor!
I assumed a visit to the chiropractor was a no go for expectant moms. Turns out I was wrong. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of chiropractors who focus on prenatal and postnatal care. Also, many general chiropractors have done specialized training to work with pregnant women.
If you're running out of options to deal with your back pain, read some online reviews about local chiropractors and get an appointment booked. It could be the best thing you do for your back during your pregnancy. Not only can chiropractic treatment help alleviate your back pain, but it can also help you to prepare for your delivery.
Another piece of good news is that chiropractors aren’t as expensive as you might have thought. The diagnostic session costs around $100, with further appointments ranging from $40 - $60. You would normally be recommended to return for an appointment once every 6 weeks.
3 Be Careful With The Housework
You will probably go straight into nesting mode as an expectant mom, and will want everything to be dust and clutter free, but you need to think about your back. While you might be thinking 'bah, it's just some housework, it's not going to do any damage...' you will be surprised to know that even the simplest things, like doing laundry for instance - a full hamper weighs about 20 pounds - can be detrimental to your back. There is plenty enough stress on your back with your growing baby. It doesn't need any more.
While no safe limits have been established as a guideline, chores that you really should avoid include lifting heavy furniture, refurnishing furniture, mopping, vacuuming and hanging curtains. The further along you are in your pregnancy, the more important it is that you take a step back from household tasks and delegate them to someone else.
2 Be Aware Of Sciatica
Am I the only one who thinks that the word sciatica even sounds quite threatening? Basically, according to the Boston Wellness Group, sciatica (pronounced sigh-at-eh-kah) describes the symptoms of leg pain—as well as possibly "tingling, numbness, or weakness - which starts in the lower back then travels through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each of your legs."
While sciatica is not common in pregnant women it does happen and can be brought on by weight gain and increased fluid retention, your expanding uterus, the fact your growing belly and breasts, are shifting your centre of gravity and your baby shifting into the proper birth position.
If sciatica does occur, it will probably be during the third trimester when you and your baby are gaining more weight. Some things that you can do to help relieve the pain include sleeping on your side, swimming and chiropractic adjustments.
1 It Can Be Something Serious
It's all too easy for an expectant mom not to make a scene when she's in pain, especially when it comes down to back pain. What with all the eye rolling and the sighing, it is often easier on the stress levels not to say anything at all and instead grin and bear it. But you need to be smart about back pain, and take it seriously because it can actually be a sign of something dangerous.
Preterm labour - going into labour before 37 weeks of pregnancy - is one complication linked to back pain. If you experience back pain that radiates to your abdomen, you need to contact your doctor immediately.
It can also be a sign of a urinary tract infection. If your back pain is accompanied by a fever, burning during urination, or vaginal bleeding you also need to get in touch with your doctor.