Up to 78% of women experience lower back pain during pregnancy. In fact, it’s one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints our osteopaths treat.
Lower back pain during pregnancy can range from mild, sharp pain that’s aggravated by certain movements or consistent stiffness and restriction that doesn’t seem to let up. Not only can lower back pain be uncomfortable and suck the enjoyment out of your pregnancy, but it can also be debilitating and prevent you from carrying out your everyday tasks.
Osteopath, Catherine Spiteri, discusses some of the common causes of lower back pain during pregnancy and some tips to help you relieve the discomfort.
Causes of lower back pain during pregnancy
Lower back pain is a common musculoskeletal complaint that can occur at any time during your pregnancy – first, second or third trimester. There are a number of different causes of lower back pain during pregnancy from existing conditions or injuries to hormone changes.
Pregnancy brings with it many mechanical and hormonal changes to your body to help nourish a growing baby, and prepare you for birth and beyond. In particular, the hormone relaxin is released which causes your ligaments around your pelvis to loosen. This helps to encourage an easier passage for your baby down the birth canal during delivery.
Your posture is also affected by general weight gain, changes in body mechanics, baby growth, breast growth, and altered walking patterns. You may have noticed your balance is off as your center of gravity has shifted forward and the curve of your lower back has increased.
Together, this increases the mechanical strain on your spine and can irritate the local tissues in the lower back resulting in stiffness, soreness, and pain.
Tips to help relieve lower back pain in pregnancy
An osteopathy treatment can help to relax tight muscles and increase your joint movement. We like to look not just at the lower back, but at other parts of the body to see what else may be affected or compensating.
Our treatment can help you understand the cause of the lower back pain during your pregnancy and plan how to prevent the pain from escalating as you move through the trimesters. Our hands-on treatments aim to relieve the discomfort and enhance your mobility so you can focus on the enjoyment of pregnancy. We also provide our pregnant clients with exercises and stretches that can help to continue the management of your back pain at home.
There are also several things you can do at home to minimise your lower back pain. Here are our top tips:
- Keep active
Gentle exercise is wonderful for supporting strength and movement in your changing body as well as help you maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy. Non-weight-bearing activities such as swimming or light weight-bearing activities such as walking, gentle prenatal yoga, and pilates are great options.
- Support your pelvis
Sleeping with a pillow between your knees at night and using a pelvic girdle brace during the day can both help to take the load off your lower back and pelvis.
- Be conscious of your posture
As you proceed through your pregnancy, your baby’s growth shifts your center of gravity forward and your natural response is to compensate by leaning back. Being aware of your posture and taking the time to correct yourself may help to minimise your pain. Our osteopaths can advise where you are compensating and tips to help improve your posture as your pregnancy progresses.
- Apply heat
Heat packs, warm baths, hot water bottles, and stick-on heat patches are all a great way to encourage blood flow into your tight muscles to help relieve some of the strain and tension.
- Consider a massage
A remedial massage can help to minimise the pain you’re experiencing and bring you some immediate relief. At our clinics, we use a special pregnancy pillow to allow you to lie comfortably on your tummy as you enjoy your massage. If you can’t make it for a massage appointment, consider a cork roller or ball to allow you to reduce some of the tightness at home. You can purchase these products in our clinics.
- Be kind to yourself
It can be frustrating to have pain limit what you want to get done in the day. Remember to look after yourself during pregnancy, ask for help when you need it, and be compassionate to yourself. Nourishing yourself during this time will in turn nourish your baby.
Lower back pain during pregnancy can come and go and the severity can increase during different stages of your pregnancy. While in many cases, the lower back pain can alleviate after birth, in others it can continue given the many changes in the body.
Seeking the advice of an experienced osteopath team can help you best manage your lower back pain throughout pregnancy. At Whole Body Health & Wellness, our osteopaths Catherine Spiteri and Tanja Mckenzie are familiar and passionate about treating women throughout their pregnancy. To book an appointment with Cat or Tanja, click here.
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