Symptoms of back pain during pregnancy
Lower back pain typically begins during the fifth and seventh months of pregnancy. In some cases, though, back pain can start as early as the eighth week. Women who already have back pain are at greater risk of experiencing back pain during pregnancy.
It's thought that one cause of back pain is the position of the baby in the pelvis. If the baby's head presses against the mother's tailbone and spine, it can cause back pain.
There are two types of back pain during pregnancy: lumbar and pelvic. Lumbar pain is felt at and around the waistline and affects the center of your back. The pain can radiate into the left or even down to the foot.
Pelvic pain is more common than lumbar pain and affects the back of the pelvis. It can be present on just one or both sides of the waist.
Causes of back pain during pregnancy
There are several other causes of back pain during pregnancy besides the baby's position. Your body releases certain hormones in pregnancy that can soften the ligaments in the pelvic area soft. Your joints also loosen up to prepare for labor. The change in the ligaments and joints may reduce your back support, leading to pain.
As the baby and the uterus grow, your body's center of gravity will also change, shifting your posture, triggering compensation, and causing pain. Weight gain during pregnancy has the same effect and adds a further burden to carry. This could cause pain. Poor posture and excessive bending can increase the pain.
Some health conditions can cause pregnancy back pain. Back pain may indicate preterm labor. It can be a symptom of urinary tract infections. You should speak to your obstetrician if you have the following symptoms along with excessive back pain:
Back pain due to baby's position
As mentioned earlier, the baby's position in the mother's pelvis can cause back pain. Studies have found other factors that can cause back pain.
- Size ratio. The ratio of mother to baby's size can contribute to back pain. Women who have shorter torsos carrying longer babies can experience lower back pain. The size difference leaves only limited space for the baby to rotate in the mother's pelvis.
- Pelvic shape. Differences in the shape and size of the mother's pelvis can increase back pain, particularly if the baby is in the occiput posterior position. This position is also called "sunny side up," as the baby is faced upward during labor. The ideal position for childbirth is the occiput anterior position. In this position, the baby's head faces downward.
How to relieve back pain during pregnancy
There's no way to prevent back pain during pregnancy or labor. But you can do some things to relieve the pain. If the pain interferes with your ability to do everyday activities, speak to your doctor.
Manage your posture
As a baby grows, the mother's center of gravity changes. You may lean back to prevent yourself from being drawn forward by gravity. However, this can strain your lower back and cause pain. Reduce pain and practice good posture by doing the following:
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and towards the back
- Stand tall
- Keep your knees unlocked
- Keep your chest up high
You can also put a pillow or cushion behind the lower back region for additional support.
Do physical activity
Exercises such as swimming, biking, and walking, are recommended for pregnant women. You can also do yoga or go for physiotherapy. When you exercise, limit yourself to no more than 20 minutes to 45 minutes at a time.
Exercise three to five days every week and work out at a moderate level. Do not tire yourself too much. You can also do pelvic tilts during exercise. It makes your abs stronger and improves back support.
If you cannot do pelvic tilts, rock back and forth on an exercise ball. Walking is also a good option for physical activity during pregnancy.
When walking, wear tennis shoes or walking shoes that offer good support, cushioning, and flexibility. Swimming is another great exercise that helps women against back pain during pregnancy. As the water is supporting your weight, you can avoid muscle strain and injuries during swimming.
You can use a cool or warm compress to relieve lower back pain. Try both and see which works best for you. Do not apply the heat or cold packs directly to your skin. Cover them in a cloth instead.
If you're not comfortable using a compress, stand in a warm shower or take a warm bath. When showering, keep the shower head aimed toward your lower back.
You can relieve back pain by applying pressure to your back. Do this by rolling a soda bottle, tennis ball, or water bottle on your back. If it's uncomfortable to do it yourself, ask your partner to do it for you.
If possible, ask someone to give you a massage. The external pressure will help relieve the back pain.
When should you seek medical help?
Typically, you can manage back pain at home. , But you should talk to your obstetrician if you are in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. Back pain during this time can be a symptom of early labor.
Seek medical attention if you experience pain under your ribs or one or both sides. Go to the emergency room immediately if you have vaginal bleeding.
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Cedars Sinai: "Back Pain During Pregnancy."
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Mayo Clinic: "Back pain during pregnancy: 7 tips for relief."
NHS: "Back pain in pregnancy."
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Back Pain During Pregnancy."
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