Ouch, That Hurts – Back Pains During Pregnancy
It’s easy to take things for granted when things are going well. Aches, pains and discomforts aren’t the stuff people generally like to ponder on, especially if their life is free from them. It’s been a somewhat rude awakening for some though, when back pain begins to creep up on them during pregnancy.
What’s causing it?
Back pain can begin as early as when your belly begins to show and pushes out of the pelvic area. If you already have existing back pain, pregnancy is likely to make it more pronounced. There are six main causes of back ache during pregnancy and they are:
Abdominal separation (diastasis recti)
During pregnancy as your belly grows bigger, two lines of muscle running down your abdominals begin to separate to accommodate your uterus as it pushes forward. This separation, called diastasis recti, may cause varying degrees of back aches and pains.
Your baby’s weight
As your baby gains more and more weight in your womb, your lower back might sway as your centre of gravity moves forward, causing back muscles to feel tight and painful.
While your spine can handle the extra weight from your growing baby, it may still place pressure on nerves and blood vessels, and may also cause muscles to feel tight and feel strained. This may be felt as dull aches on your lower back and hips.
Your altered posture
As your pregnancy progresses, your lower back will begin to curve inwards and your centre of gravity also alters to accommodate this weight. This happens so gradually that you will hardly notice it, but unfortunately, the aches and pain these changes cause to your back might not go unnoticed!
The position of your baby
Depending on how your growing baby is positioned, there is a likeliness that certain nerves can be pinched or compressed, causing mild to severe backaches.
A hormone called relaxin is released during pregnancy to help soften the ligaments in your pelvis. This hormone also helps to make your joints more flexible than usual, but they consequently place some extra strain on your back.
Safe ways to deal with normal back pains
If your doctor has ruled out any danger signs, you may have to put up with your back ache right up till you give birth. It doesn’t mean that you have to endure it though, for there are some safe methods to alleviate them.
Warm baths or showers
Having a warm bath or standing under a warm shower may help soothe tight, aching muscles and alleviate some of the pains in your back.
Positioning and support
During nap times or when you’re sleeping, lay on your side with a support pillow between your knees. This has been shown to take take some pressure off your back.
A good massage
A good, prenatal massage might help to relax your body and relieve back pain. Be certain though that your therapist is trained in proper massage techniques for pregnant women.
Watch your posture
A good posture may help, so don’t slouch! You can improve your posture by standing tall, with shoulders back, and tucking your pelvis under. Use back support when sitting to keep your spine straight.
Avoid high heels
They cause unnecessary strain throughout your back and spine, amplifying any existing aches. Choose instead shoes that are comfy and ones that provide support.
Mind those movements
Squat or kneel to lower yourself to the floor or to pick up objects from the ground. Better still, get someone else to do it and avoid the risk of back injuries.
Try to make sure you get enough rest every day, for it helps to heal and sooth any nagging aches caused by weak, tired muscles.
Make sure these are recommended by your doctor though.
When to see your doctor
While most incidences of back pains can be quite annoying yet harmless, there are however, times when back pain can be a sign things are not quite right and you may need to see your doctor. The following are some symptoms that should not be ignored:
Back pains accompanied by vaginal bleeding: Back pains that come and go, accompanied by bleeding and sensations like uterine tightening or contractions may be indicators of premature labour or placental problems.
Sudden pain: Any kind of severe pain without any apparent cause should be checked out. Also, if you happened to have experienced any kind of trauma, such as a car accident or a fall, the pain that follows may be indicating a serious injury and needs immediate attention.
Pain with fever: Fevers should not be taken lightly during pregnancy. They may be caused by bladder or kidney infections which in turn can cause serious complications, such as preterm labour if left untreated.
Loss of feeling: Pains in the back may be normal, but if you also experience loss of sensation in one or both of your legs, or if you are unexplainably weak and not coordinated, you should contact your doctor immediately.