Causes and Remedies for Lower Back Pain in Early Pregnancy
Most women are beyond excited when they first find out they’re pregnant, even if the first indicator was some nausea or another not so subtle side effect. However, that excitement may quickly begin to wane as the newly expectant mama begins to experience additional nuances of her changing pregnant body, including lower back pain. The good news is, though, that a lot can be done to help minimize even the peskiest of pregnancy problems. Understanding the causes and identifying some key strategies for managing discomfort, like using a pregnancy pillow, can help new moms navigate this exciting but often somewhat uncomfortable stage in their lives.
Common Causes of Back Pain in Pregnancy
As rapidly as the body changes throughout pregnancy, it is really no wonder that minor aches and pains arise from time to time. It is not at all uncommon for expectant mothers to experience low back pain even in early pregnancy.
Pregnancy back pain for most women occurs where the pelvis meets the spin, at what is known as the sacroiliac joint. There are several reasons why this discomfort occurs. Some of the most common causes include:
• Hormone changes – During pregnancy, the body begins producing and releasing the hormone called relaxin, which allows the ligaments in the pelvic region to relax and the joints to loosen in preparation for the birthing process. This same hormone can cause the ligaments supporting the spine to loosen, causing instability and even pain.
• Posture changes – Pregnancy shifts the body’s center of gravity. As a result, many women adjust their posture without even noticing, which may result in back pain or strain.
• Weight gain – During a healthy pregnancy, most women gain between 25 and 35 pounds. That is a significant amount of extra weight for the spine to support, which can cause discomfort. Likewise, the added weight of the growing baby and uterus may also put pressure on the blood vessels and nerves of the low back and pelvis.
• Muscle separation – As the uterus begins to expand, the two parallel muscles running from the ribs to the pubic bone, known as the rectal abdominis, begin to separate. This separation often contributes to back pain.
• Stress – Although the impending arrival of a new baby is exciting, it can also cause a significant amount of emotional stress. That stress may lead to tension in the back and even such symptoms as back pain or back spasms. If back pain is from stress, an expectant mother may also find that her back pain increases during stressful periods.
Symptoms of Low Back Pain in Pregnancy
Experts suggest that essentially two kinds of lower back pain early pregnancy are common – lumbar pain that occurs in the area of the lumber vertebrae in the low back and posterior pelvic pain felt in the back of the pelvis. Some women may experience one or both types of lower back pain early pregnancy.
Lumbar pain is similar to that which women may have experienced prior to pregnancy. It can often be felt over and around the spine approximately at waist height. This type of pain may also radiate into the back. Sitting and standing for extended periods may exacerbate this type of back pain, as can lifting. Lumbar pain often tends to get more intense throughout the day.
More common in pregnant women, posterior pelvic pain is typically felt lower on the body than lumbar pain. Many women describe this type of pain as deep pain in the buttocks, on one or both sides, and/or in the back of the thighs. Pelvic pain is often triggered by walking, climbing the stairs, getting in and out of the bathtub or a low chair, rolling in bed, and/or twisting and lifting. Additionally, positions that involve being bent at the waist, such as in sitting in a chair and leaning forward at a desk, may make pelvic pain worse. Women who experience this type of pain are also more likely to feel pain over the pubic bone.
Risk Factors for Pregnancy Back Pain
While back pain is extremely common during pregnancy, certain factors may contribute to one’s predisposition for the condition. Not surprisingly, women who have low back pain prior to pregnancy are among the most likely to develop back pain during pregnancy. Also, those who live a very sedentary lifestyle, are not flexible, and have weak back and/or abdominal (core) muscles are more likely to experience pregnancy back pain. Finally mothers carrying twins or multiples are also more likely to suffer from an aching back.
Ways to Relieve Lower Back Pain Early Pregnancy
For most women lower back pain early pregnancy will ease gradually even before giving birth. Nonetheless, there are several things that can be used to treat lower back pain early pregnancy and make it more tolerable throughout the pregnancy.
Exercise – Regular exercise strengthens the muscles of the core and back and improves flexibility. Exercises that are safe for pregnant women include walking, swimming, and stationary cycling.
Heat and Cold Therapy – Applying heat and cold alternatively to the back may also help. It is important that pregnant women seek the advice of their care providers, but in most cases, applying cold compresses, such as a bag of ice wrapped in a towel, for up to 20 minutes several times a day is typically a safe, effective practice. After 2 to 3 days of cold therapy, the expectant mother can then switch to heat therapy; however, it is important that heat not be applied directly to the abdomen during pregnancy.
Chiropractic Care – When performed by a certified profession, experienced in prenatal care, chiropractic manipulation can effectively help manage back discomfort during pregnancy. It is important that expectant mothers seek a doctor’s advice prior to receiving chiropractic care, however.
Counseling – If pregnancy back pain is largely related to stress, seeking the counsel of a trusted friend or counselor may be helpful. While exciting, a new baby on the way can definitely cause added stress in one’s life, and talking through it with someone experienced can help navigate the unfamiliar waters.
Posture – Slouching causes additional strain on the spine. So it is important for expectant mothers to practice proper posture when working, sitting, and sleeping. For example, using a proper pillow, like the Cozy Bump, can make sleeping and resting more comfortable. A pregnancy pillow, such as the Cozy Bump helps maintain proper alignment while laying down, which reduces back strain and also takes the weight off of the belly. This pregnancy pillow and other pregnancy support tools are crucial for maintaining comfort throughout the pregnancy and reducing the painful symptoms of back pain and discomfort.
In addition to using these strategies to manage back pain, newly expectant moms can use these tips to protect their backs and minimize pain:
• Use the legs to squat and carefully bend to pick things up from the grand.
• Wear flat shoes with adequate support.
• Lying on a which has a decline in the leg section. The decline in the leg section helps decompress the lower spine.
• Wear support hose.
Back pain is common during pregnancy; however, it is and should be manageable. Understanding the causes and taking appropriate measures to minimize pain and maximize support, such as with a pregnancy pillow, is the most effective way to prevent further issues. The excitement of the arrival of a new little one shouldn’t have to be dampened by back pain.