Pregnancy can be an exciting time for expecting parents but it comes with many changes throughout your body. These changes include gaining weight and using muscles you may not have focused on in the past. Back pain is one of the most common pregnancy symptoms because of these changes in your body. While you may not be able to completely avoid back pain during pregnancy, you can take steps to ensure your pain is manageable and temporary.
What causes back pain during pregnancy?
The different stages of your pregnancy can bring new changes to your body. During each of these changes, you may encounter back pain that wasn’t present before. For example, in the final trimester, it may be more difficult to sleep on your back because of the size of your stomach, which can cause discomfort in your back. Here are some of the most common causes of back pregnancy:
Pregnancy may cause you to gain weight faster than usual due to the growing size of the fetus and your body’s need to provide additional nutrition for the baby. The change in your body’s size and weight distribution can strain your back muscles, causing pain. Without proper muscle training, weight gain can continue to cause back pain postpartum.
Changes in weight distribution and center of gravity can impact your posture. You may be leaning backward to counterbalance the weight on your stomach, which can add additional strain on your back muscles. You can improve your posture by focusing on your pelvic floor and adnominal muscles.
One of the most significant changes pregnancy causes are hormone changes within your body. These can affect your moods, your appetite, and your physical comfort. Specifically, relaxin is a hormone that causes your ligaments and joints to loosen in preparation for giving birth. While it is a necessary change for a safe and healthy delivery, the loosening can affect how your body supports your weight, increasing the strain on your back.
As your uterus expands to make room for the fetus, it pushes out the two sheets of muscle that run vertically across your stomach. From your rib cage to your pubic bone, the muscles that span from your rib cage to your pubic bone may split along the center seam as they expand. This separation can cause cramps and pain. It can also cause a change in the distribution of weight you put on different muscle groups, adding pressure to your back muscles.
Emotional stress can also cause tension in your back, so if you are experiencing any pressure during your pregnancy, it can exacerbate existing conditions that are causing back pain. Relaxing exercises can help you manage stress while strengthening your muscles to lessen the strain on your back.
Weak pelvic floor
Your pelvic floor is one of the main muscle groups supporting your lower back. When you have a weak or incorrectly activated pelvic floor, you may experience back pain due to the additional strain your back muscles carry. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can help remove some of the stress and prevent other conditions from worsening like:
- Vulvodynia: Vulvodynia is long lasting pain in your vulva. It is often associated with low back pain or weak or incorrectly activated pelvic floor muscles.
- Pelvic floor dysfunction: Pelvic floor dysfunction is when you can’t control your pelvic floor muscles to have a bowel movement or control urination.
- Hypertonic pelvic floor: Just like any other muscle group, your pelvic floor muscles can become too tight, causing spasms or a constant state of contraction. This hypertension makes using your muscles appropriately difficult and causes additional pain during intercourse, urination, or giving birth.
Treatments for back pain caused by pregnancy
Back pain is a treatable pregnancy symptom, and many treatments can have desirable side effects, like relaxation, improved blood pressure, and easier birthing. Here are some of the most common treatments for back pain during pregnancy:
You can use supplemental supports to balance the weight distribution and strain your back muscles. Many pregnant people invest in support maternity belts to lift the abdomen and support the additional weight. This can remove tension from the sciatic nerve in your back and improve your posture.
Chiropractic adjustments can help manage pain in your back, hips, and joints and establish pelvic balance. Chiropractic adjustments are safe for pregnant women and fetuses if your doctor approves them before your appointment. A chiropractic adjustment can improve your posture and realign your spine and pelvis.
You can work with a personal trainer or physical therapist to create a pregnancy exercise program that addresses your changing body and strengthens muscles that can help you relieve pain. Working with a pelvic floor therapist can help you learn the proper ways to enhance the muscles that support your back and avoid unhelpful or incorrect information on exercises (like promoting Kegels during pregnancy.) An additional benefit of pelvic floor therapy is that it can help you have an easier delivery and speed up your recovery postpartum.
At Living Well Balanced, we can work with you to develop a workout plan that gives you the strength and fitness to reduce discomfort. Our experienced and knowledgeable pelvic floor therapists and chiropractors can help you target the muscles you use and strain during your pregnancy and delivery. You can make an appointment with one of our physical therapists or chiropractors to find out how they can help. If you have any questions, you can always give us a call at 212-579-2858 or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our blog for more information about rehabilitative therapies.