When it comes to pregnancy, there tend to be a lot of less-than-pleasant symptoms. Morning sickness, weight gain, not to mention all the aches and pains of carrying an actual human being inside of your body. And of course, what’s the most common discomfort women face during pregnancy? More often than not, it’s back pain.
In fact, according to the American Pregnancy Association, 50 to 70 percent of women experience back pain during pregnancy. Lower back pain is a very common symptom for most women, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. With the extra weight added onto the front of your body, your center of gravity shifts forward; mix that with the wide-range of hormones flooding through you, and your back ends up being the one that suffers. However, there are ways to combat that achy, sharp pain in your lower back. We have some tips to take advantage of for relieving your back pain during pregnancy.
One of the simplest ways you can help mitigate back pain before baby comes is by practicing good posture. Seems easy enough, right? As your little one grows, your center of gravity continues to shift forward. To compensate for this shift, you might feel the need or tendency to lean back, which can actually strain the muscles in your lower back even more, and contribute to the back pain you’re trying to avoid.
By practicing good posture, you help maintain your center of gravity without straining those precious muscles in your back. When standing or sitting for long periods of time, be sure to keep your back as straight and tall as possible, with your shoulders back and relaxed. Especially if you work in a desk job, use a chair that supports your back, or a small pillow for extra comfort.
When you are out and about during the day, be aware of the shoes you choose. Pregnancy doesn’t mean you have to give up your fashionista style, but it does mean you have to be a little more conscious about how your style affects your body. Step one: avoid high heels. Dr. Mary Rosser, M.D., Ph.D., an ob-gyn at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York, is quoted in an article by Parents, saying, “High heels increase the curvature of your back and create pressure that drives the weight of your pregnancy directly into your lower spine and hip joints.” However, flats aren’t the answer, either, because they often leave your feet unsupported all together. Instead, opt for a low-heeled shoe, with either built-in arch support or an orthotic insertion, to help distribute your weight more evenly and avoid back pain.
Another useful tip to relieve your back pain during pregnancy? Exercise. Gentle exercise like walking or stretching can help relieve your muscles’ stiffness and pain, and ease that pain in your lower back. For example, give prenatal yoga a try. Liz Owen, co-author of Yoga for a Healthy Lower Back: A Practical Guide to Developing Strength and Relieving Pain, says, “Prenatal yoga can help improve posture and tone the physical body in preparation for the birthing process. In the midst of changing hormones and emotions, yoga provides a grounding and focus.” Exercises such as prenatal yoga, stretching and swimming are the perfect way to get your muscles moving and stretching, helping to strengthen them and take the stress off of your back.
Finally, help ease your back pain by practicing the much-needed, much-appreciated, self-care. Take time to relax and meditate throughout your day, either through quiet time, prayer, yoga or journaling. Meditation simply means sitting or lying down in a quiet place and focusing on your breathing. Inhale and exhale deep, calming breaths and let your mind drift away. Taking time to mindfully relax and meditate can help alleviate a lot of the stress you might feel during pregnancy, which can often result in pent-up pain in your lower back.
Of course, if meditation doesn’t help, there are other ways to self-care. Treat yourself to a luxurious prenatal massage to relieve any muscular clenching that might be irritating your nerves in the lower back. Take a long, hot, bubble bath with a good book and melt away your tension while gently loosening up any stiffness in your muscles. And of course, opt for the spa day, complete with a facial, manicure, pedicure and glass of non-alcoholic wine to alleviate any extra stress you might be feeling. For more ideas on how to self-care, check out our article Treat Yourself:Embracing “Me Time” While Pregnant.
Back pain can cause serious uncomfortability during pregnancy. You already have enough stressful issues to deal with; back pain shouldn’t be one of them. Try out these tips to help relax and reduce your lower back pain, for a more comfortable, enjoyable pregnancy.