It is not surprising that during pregnancy back pain can come on, given the facts that you gain more weight, your centre of gravity is lowered and your ligaments are starting to relax to prepare your body for labour.
The first “port of call” would be gentle exercises to strengthen the core abdominal muscles which can help to take some of the strain off your back and prevent acute localised pain in your lower back. Exercise sheets may be available in the antenatal clinic you are attending.
If you are unfamiliar with core stability exercises, yoga or Palates, find the discipline of home exercise difficult, or would prefer supervised exercise classes with other pregnant women then a local antenatal exercise class might be the way to go. If this seems like too much try an aquanatal class, (water aerobics for mums to be).
For some women however, the pain is too intense to attend an exercise class or even to do home exercises. Typically women find the back pain most intense when they’ve been in the same position for a long time as the muscles start to become stiff. To self manage this, make sure to change your position regularly and use the appropriate support, such as a cushion when sitting. Regular walking can help too.
In cases where the pain is quite intense and intrusive it may be worth consulting with a chiropractor or other healthcare professional to see if a trial of treatment can help to alleviate the symptoms.
Whether your pain is mild, or severe, observing good back care rules to minimise stress on your back becomes even more important now than before you became pregnant.
So let’s remind ourselves of these rules for looking after our backs. Firstly, posture can be key to managing lower back pain. When you’re moving around make sure to bend from the knees and keep your back straight. Don’t forget to move your feet when turning as this can help prevent excess twisting on the spine. If you sleep on your side use a pillow between your knees and if you sleep on your back try putting a pillow or two under your knees to help relax your spine whilst you are sleeping.
As well as the above, remember to stand up straight and tall, hold your chest high, keep your shoulders and back relaxed and use a comfortably wide stance to keep your upper body fully supported.
In conclusion… Although back pain is common during pregnancy, it is important to make sure you’re getting the right exercise. Where pain prevents this, speaking to your GP or midwife (at the antenatal class) can be very fruitful. They might recommend you need some hands on therapy such as chiropractic to help.
Edited by Dylan Paydar, Muswell Hill Chiropractic Clinic, London. N10 1ER