During pregnancy back pain is experienced by 50 -80% women, can appear at any stage and vary in severity from mild to severe. Women commonly find their lower back suffers most which is no surprise as the additional weight you are carrying puts stress on the body, changes your centre of gravity and causes postural changes. The softening effects of the hormone relaxin on the ligaments causes joint laxity which can create instability or lead to the muscles tightening to compensate. Once your baby has arrived it will take a while for your body to readjust and regain stability. Your abdominals will be weaker and added to this are the new demands being placed on your body with lifting, carrying and feeding. You may find the stress shifts to your upper back, neck and shoulders.
Here at 7 simple steps to help relieve the strain of back pain in pregnancy and new mums.
- Get moving – Regular walking or swimming can help mobilise the spine, strengthen your core and reduce stiffness.
- Check your posture – If you have a tendency to arch your back and stick out your bump, try tucking your pelvis under and bending your knees slightly to flatten the curve. During the day avoid prolonged postures by building regular breaks and position changes into your routine. Try to sit up straight rather than slouching (this is also better for encouraging your baby into the right position). Some women find wearing a maternity support belt helpful. New mums pick up their newborns around 50 times a day. Be sure to bend at the knees rather than the back, hold your baby close, alternate sides and try wearing your baby in a good quality sling which will reduce the bending and lifting and keep the weight distributed (and your arms free!). For more benefits of babywearing read 10 Reasons to Use a Baby Carrier. While feeding avoid leaning forwards as this will put strain on your upper back and neck.
- Stretch it out – Include stretches suitable for your stage of pregnancy or try a pregnancy or mum and baby yoga class to ease out tight muscles and improve flexibility.
- Choose the right accessories – In pregnancy heels are best avoided as they affect good body alignment but completely flat shoes can also cause tension – go for a slight heel or wedge sole for a sensible but stylish option. New mums do you feel like you are carrying around everything but the kitchen sink? Babies do need a lot of kit but try to limit yourself to the essentials to lighten the load or choose a rucksack to distribute the weight.
- Sleep soundly – Use a board under your mattress if this is too soft. Experiment with pillows and cushions to find a comfortable sleeping position. While pregnant resting your bump and the knee of your top leg on a pillow when side lying and a pillow under your knees when lying on your back may help.
- Soothe away – Relax in a warm bath, then enlist your (hopefully willing) partner to administer some tension relieving massage. Relax Oil blends lavender, chamomile and frankincense and can be used in the bath and for massage (after the first trimester and beyond). Combine with the strokes HERE to ease aches and encourage sleep.
- Consider complementary therapies – pre and postnatal massage, acupuncture and osteopathy treatments can ease the symptoms and Alexander Technique can help with postural awareness and prevent relapses.
Always check ongoing and severe back problems with a health professional, particularly if accompanied by other symptoms.
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre’ and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at nomnomskincare.com