No one can prepare you for how pregnancy feels and some of these new experiences are more preferable than others. One big difference is the change to your ‘normal’ including your usual wants and needs flipping in an instant. This is particularly difficult with diets, where your morning turmeric smoothie is thrown straight out the window and replaced with a pop tart. And another huge impact we can’t dismiss is to our bodies, with back pain often a common struggle for new mums.
This is a subject dear to me, as it’s a condition I treat a lot in my clinic, as well as something I’ve experienced firsthand. And to be honest, I am still not sure what was easier, being in the clinic heavily pregnant treating body builders or running around after a crazy toddler.
So what can we do to feel better in our evolving bodies? What can we do to nurture ourselves and our baby whilst being forgiving and understanding, respecting and admiring the incredible things the body is doing. The more awareness we gain on our changing bodies and how to help ourselves, the easier the pregnancy can become.
This definitely applies to back pain. Simple, empowering knowledge can mitigate this unnecessary and unwelcome symptoms.
Over the standard 275 days, as mother and baby become grow, the pelvis will have more and more pressure placed upon it. It’s for this reason, that preventative care is key.
The anatomy of the female pelvis, which is uniquely designed for childbirth, can be imbalanced by relaxin, causing something like Symphysis pubis dysfunction. This is the wonderful hormone which helps prepare the body for birth by increasing laxity. It’s important to keep a strong core to counterbalance this increased mobility and prevent SPD or Pelvic Girdle Pain.
Diastasis Recti is another common condition which I treat in my clinic. As the uterus grows, abdominal muscles can separate causing problems in the lower back. Specific post-natal exercises can however help this to heal.
We also have to consider the strong link between emotional wellbeing and back pain. As mentioned, pregnancy can be a stressful period. One of the body’s stress response is to tighten muscles e.g. in the lower back. It is important to incorporate relaxation/meditation when you can.
As the baby grows, the lumbar spine can be pulled forward forming a hyperlordosis. This changes the distribution of forces through the spine, causing symptoms.
The good news is that, depending on the presentation and severity of complaints, most symptoms relating to lower back pain will disappear after the birth. In the meantime, here is how you can help yourself.
Try and avoid the following:
- Pushing heavy loads
- Carrying on one side
- Staying in one position (sitting or standing) for long periods of time
- Holding a twisted position.
Best exercises to relieve pain:
- It’s a good idea to have a consultation with a physical therapist.
- Be careful lying on your back after twenty weeks as this may affect blood supply to the baby.
- Only do what feels comfortable for you and your baby.
- For each exercise-5 gentle breaths inhale/exhale through the nose, repeat x 2/3
Flexion over Chair
Squeeze the gluteus muscles away from the thumbs, together x 10, individually x 15.
Engage the pelvic floor by drawing in the deep muscles above your pubic bone up to the navel, squeeze x 5 seconds, repeat x 10
Particularly good if you’re suffering from any sciatic pain.
Tilt the pelvis as if you were lifting it off the floor, then tilt it back down x 10
Gentle knee hugs
Rest and restore
Other top tips
- Pelvic brace
- Keep moving-swimming and walking are great
- Postural improvements- tuck your tail bone under and keep legs hip distance apart. Replace bending with squatting and engaging the pelvic floor squat instead of bending through the back.
- Pregnancy pillow