One of the momentous changes in life is the birth of a child. Bringing a bouncing bundle of joy home for the first time is a milestone in any woman’s life.
The number of babies born in the United States every year averages over 4 million. That adds up to a lot of lives changing. It also means millions of women experience other changes.
Some changes are welcome. First signs of a baby bump. Healthy-looking hair, stronger fingernails, the “glow.” And then there are those less-than-desirable changes.
Unfortunately, some are unavoidable, like weight gain and maternity back pain.
45% of expecting mothers experience some degree of pregnancy-related back pain. Let’s look at the causes and discuss ways to lessen, and in some cases, alleviate lower back pain.
The Causes of Maternity Back Pain
To accommodate the growing baby, a woman’s body must adjust. Ligaments and skin stretch. Internal organs are displaced. The musculoskeletal system becomes strained.
These are many reasons expecting mothers experience maternity back pain.
You’re probably aware of how changes in hormone levels cause the emotional rollercoasters many women experience. There’s also a hormone that works to soften ligaments — relaxin.
Although it sounds as if it will produce a calming effect, the name relaxin is very misleading. It is actually one of the main contributors to back pain.
It is the hormone responsible for softening the ligaments around the pelvic area and the lower vertebrae. This helps these bones to move and adjust to accommodate a baby’s growth.
The loosening also results in the baby’s weight redistributing. And as the baby grows, more stress is put on the bones in the back and pelvis because of the lack of support from ligaments.
To create a healthy growing environment for a developing baby the body retains higher levels of sodium and water.
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), during each trimester a women’s body increasingly produces more fluids. By the third-trimester fluid production increases by up to 50%.
This extra water goes toward creating amniotic fluid, plus more blood to help feed the fetus and placenta. It is used to nourish the mammary glands as they develop. It also serves to soften the tissues in the body to allow for expansion as the baby grows.
The extra fluids work to add weight, as well as cause pain due to swelling. Both work to increase maternity back pain.
Strains on Muscle and Bone
On average, women gain 25-35 lbs. during pregnancy. It is the musculoskeletal system — muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons — that is responsible to bear the excess load.
Not only does weight gain increase the stress on these parts, but as the body transforms, the center of gravity changes. The forward shift in weight, plus the inability of the stretching abdominal muscles to handle the added weight puts even more pressure on the back muscles and bones.
Methods to Alleviate Back Pain During Pregnancy
As with anything you do while you’re pregnant it is always important to check with your doctor before trying any of these methods. But each has been used effectively by expectant mothers.
Stretch and Exercise
A recent study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing reported that participants in a 4-week exercise program experienced “statistically significant improvement in functional capacity and a statistically significant reduction in pain intensity compared to the control group.”
Begin by lying on your back, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. The natural curve should have your lower back slightly elevated off the floor.
Gently press the lower back into the floor by tilting the hips toward the shoulders. The butt should not rise from the ground.
Repeat multiple times while breathing evenly.
Begin on hands and knees, with legs more than hip distance apart and big toes touching.
Slowly lower the butt onto the heels. Stretch arms forward and touch the forehead to the ground.
Focus on relaxing while taking long, deep breaths.
If you are familiar with yoga or feel comfortable performing this stretch there are many other beneficial yoga poses and stretches to try. Most of these are recommended for relieving during the entire pregnancy.
Begin sitting with knees bent, crossing legs.
Hold the right foot with the left hand. Place the right hand flat on the ground behind the right hip. Slowly rotate the upper body to the right and hold.
Return to start and repeat on the opposite side.
Stretching is a very effective method for preventing maternity back pain. Here are more ways to strengthen and improve the flexibility of the muscles.
Again, it’s always a good idea to consult your obstetrician before starting any new exercise routine.
Many women are hesitant to visit the chiropractor, but the practice has proved both safe and effective for decades. Simple adjustments to relieve the pressure on joints brings a great deal of relief to many an aching pregnant back.
Treatment can last for the entire pregnancy with modifications to positioning made where needed. Look for a chiropractor with specialized tables adapted for expecting mothers.
Massage soothes aching and tense muscles and helps reduce some of the symptoms of water retention.
Healthy momma equals healthy baby, right? Yes! So go ahead and tell the significant other it’s for the baby!
The “shoulders back and sit up straight” advice for good posture is a bit difficult to maintain as the center of gravity changes.
With the help of orthopedic-designed support devices, proper posture is made easier. Designed to reduce maternity back pain, these devices support the lumbar region by lifting the pregnant belly and taking some of the load off the lower back.
Lightweight, wick-away material straps comfortably across the spine while firmly supporting the abdominal weight. A support belt reduces strain by minimizing the effects from the center of gravity changes.
Ready for Relief?
The good news is that there is relief available for your aching back while you are expecting. By practicing any or all of the above methods, you can look forward to better rest and overall comfort throughout the day.
To learn more about our patented Baby Your Back maternity back support belt we welcome you to browse our site.
Relief from your maternity back pain is a click away.