Pregnancy: Lower Back Pain Prevention During & AfterBy Chan Yin Keen, D.C | B.HSci (Chiro), M.Clin.Chiro
One Spine Chiropractic, D27, 3rd Floor, Center Point Sabah, Kota Kinabalu.
Lower back pain is a common problem that the majority of us have experienced before. The causes vary, whether due to lifting something heavy or repetitive stress or even sitting in a chair for too long, we have all been there at one point or another. Pregnancy is also known to cause lower back pain, sometimes blasting even after birth.
In the case of pregnancy, a woman typically gains a few extra kilograms which the back has to support. This is coupled with hormonal changes that relax and loosen the ligaments around the pelvic area to allow for the eventual birth. The same hormonal changes that allow for the loosening of the ligaments in the pelvic area can also affect the ligaments supporting the spine, which leads to instability and pain.
The other cause for lower back pain occurring during pregnancy is the shift in one’s centre of gravity as the baby grows, which will cause a change in posture as one’s body adjusts to the extra weight. Changes in our posture are a little harder to notice, but do add up as months of poor posture can lead pain and discomfort.
So what can one do to help prevent or reduce back pain while pregnant? Being mindful of our posture is one way. Keeping your ear lobes in line with your shoulders, pulling your stomach in, trying to not tilt your pelvis too far forward or backwards and avoiding slouching will do wonders for your posture when standing. Incidentally all this also applies when not pregnant. To avoid slouching the easiest way is to just pull your shoulder blades back, and chest forward.
In addition to putting less strain on your shoulders and back, you will look more confident and take in more air while breathing compared to when you are slouching.
AVOID PELVIS TILTED TOO FAR FORWARD
The other thing I mentioned was trying to avoid having your pelvis tilted too far forward or backwards. Typically, we find a bit of anterior pelvic tilt going on, where the pelvis is rotated forward. To give us an idea of what it looks like, people with an anterior pelvic tilt will have an increased arch in their lower back, their belly jutting forward and a bum sticking out. Now some might find the idea of an increased arch and pronounced figure appealing, but what an anterior pelvic tilt introduces is muscle imbalances, weakness and low back pain.
What we want to do is prevent swayback or anterior pelvic tilt posture from arising, and we do that with exercise. Pelvic tilt exercises, core exercises, pelvic stabilisation and gluteal strengthening exercises are the kind of exercises that should be done before pregnancy to give your body a stable base to work with. Depending on the kind of exercise, it can even be continued with during your pregnancy.
LOW IMPACT EXERCISE
On the topic of exercise, other exercises one can do when pregnant include mostly low impact exercises like walking, swimming or using a stationary bike. These exercises keep one active, aren’t stressful for the back, and in turn help us stay healthy and pain free. As always though, seek professional medical advice if you intend to do exercise while pregnant.
Other things that can be done during pregnancy to avoid unnecessary back pain would include not bending over to lift or pick things up when pregnant. This is solid advice even for those who are not pregnant.
A lot of people experience back pain due to lifting things with their back instead of their legs. Squatting, keeping your back straight while bending at the knees and hips to pick things up is fine as it does not put a strain on our back. For those who are heavily pregnant, having someone else pick things up off the floor is also an acceptable alternative!
Having adequate rest is important for soon-to-be mothers, thus one should be getting proper sleep. Sleeping on your back is generally not the best position at the best of times, more so when pregnant. This is due to the baby’s weight possibly affecting venous flow from the lower limbs back to the heart, as well as causing lower back pain too. I think it goes without saying that lying on your stomach during pregnancy should not happen as that puts pressure on the baby and possibly reduces
SLEEP ON YOUR SIDE
Ideally, you want to be sleeping on your side. A proper height pillow to rest your head, and your knees bent with a pillow or bolster between them will help reduce any strain in your back. All these tips should help prevent or minimize the risk of having lower back pain during pregnancy. Back pain after pregnancy can and does happen; as the hormonal changes during pregnancy that loosened the joints and ligaments did not happen overnight, likewise the return of strength to muscles and tone to ligaments will take time.
Typically if a woman has had lower back pain before or during their pregnancy, they are likely to continue to have back pain after as well. Adding the strain of pushing during delivery, bending down to pick up your newborn and even holding them to breastfeed or rocking them to sleep can cause postpartum back pain if you are not careful with your posture.
Postpartum back pain typically resolves itself after a few months; it is important to note that back pain in itself is fairly common and not something to worry about. Know when to seek professional help for your back pain, especially if it is severe pain, sudden severe pain, or having numbness or pins and needles down your extremities.
When in doubt, give your local medical professional a call and seek their advice. It is better to have as much information as possible in your hands about any pain or discomfort that you may be experiencing, so you can make the best decision for your health.
Should you need more information regarding back pain in pregnancy or related topic, kindly contact Chan Yin Keen at 013-810 0373 or visit his clinic One Spine Chiropractic located on the 3rd Floor of Centre Point Shopping Mall Sabah.
One Spine Chiropractic offers chiropractic solutions for people with musculoskeletal problems.