Back Pain and Pregnancy
Back pain during pregnancy is unfortunately an all too often occurrence. Typically, women gain between 25 and 35 lbs during the course of the pregnancy and this weight, along with the change of centre of gravity, puts a lot of sprain/strain on the ligaments and joints in the lower back. Another reason for increased back pain may be a result of the hormone, relaxin, as it’s main purpose it to relax joints, ligaments, and muscles as your body prepares for birth.
Low back pain is one of the most common areas to have pain occur. However, you may also experience it in your upper back, between the shoulders, and neck during your pregnancy or once you begin nursing your little one.
One of the best tips I can offer is to start seeing a Chiropractor before you even get pregnant! Set your body up for success by ensuring your muscles and joints are aligned (balanced) before all the wonderful changes that accompany pregnancy occur. As you progress throughout the pregnancy it’s nice to have a health practitioner team supporting you every step of the day. It’s also very helpful to have a Chiropractor who works closely with a Registered Massage Therapist, and Naturopath as these services may also come in extremely handy. This is in conjunction with you visiting your GP (OB/GYN), midwife and/or Doula throughout your pregnancy as well. 🙂
The treatment you receive from your chiropractor will change as your body changes during the course of the pregnancy. This should be discussed with you at almost every appointment.
There are also quite a few things you can do on your own to alleviate any discomfort you may be experiencing. Here’s a few:
You should always be mindful of maintaining a neutral posture, but even more so when pregnant. As mentioned, when your baby grows your center of gravity shifts forward. To avoid falling forward, you may compensate by leaning back which can strain the muscles in your lower back and contribute to back pain during pregnancy.
Keep these principles of good posture in mind:
1. Stand up straight but not so rigid you take on a military posture.
2. Work on your pelvic tilts so your not thrusting your pelvis forward.
3. Keep your shoulders relaxed and lowered. In colder weather, make sure you wear a scarf to avoid hiking your shoulders closer to your ears.
4. Keep your knees slightly flexed.
When you stand, consider a stance where your feet are just a bit wider than your shoulders (tripod stance). This allows for a more even weight distribution. If you must stand for long periods of time, rest one foot on a low step stool, and take time for frequent breaks.
Maintaining good posture also means sitting with care. Choose a chair that supports your back, or place a small pillow behind your lower back.
Maintaining a level of physical activity throughout your pregnancy is highly beneficial! It keeps your muscles strong, joints lubricated, and blood flowing. I wouldn’t recommend an exercise you are not already engaging in (with the exception of an aqua class) and I would encourage you to check in frequently with your health care practitioner. If you are getting tired or pain occurs, stop immediately and speak to your Chiropractor.
Not all stretches you performed prior to pregnancy are advised so please consult with your health care provider first. You may want to consider joining pregnancy specific classes, such as a pregnancy yoga class. It also provides you an opportunity to meet other momma’s to be!
4. Hot and Cold Therapy
Depending on the nature and location of your pain, heat, ice, or a contrast of both may be indicated. Speak to your Chiropractor to find out which option is most suitable for you.
5. TENS unit
A TENS unit is designed to alleviate pain. It is extremely useful and safe (when properly directed on its use) for low back pain. It is also HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to have one for when you are in labour. We sell them at the clinic and the cost is often reimbursable back to you if you have an extended health plan.
Make sure you are receiving adequate and restful sleep. It is recommended you sleep on your side as much as possible. Consider investing is a body or pregnancy pillow to help you achieve the good night’s sleep you and your baby need.
Have a great day,
Dr. Crysta Serné
Vancouver Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic