Why Do Pregnant Women Have Back Pain?

Why Do Pregnant Women Have Back Pain?

Pregnant women face a long journey to deliver a healthy baby into this world.  It is a beautiful process, and as a father and chiropractor who has spoken with many mothers, I know carrying a child and becoming a mother is one of life’s best moments. Throughout this journey, 50% of expecting mothers unfortunately suffer back pain as early as the first trimester, which is before much weight has been gained! The following are common causes of back pain in expecting mothers:

      • Strained back muscles - As pregnancy progresses, your uterus becomes heavier, and you naturally bend forward.  To keep your balance, you fight for perfect posture and lean back.  This can make the back muscles work harder, and this extra strain can lead to pain, soreness, and stiffness.
      • Abdominal muscle weakness and imbalance -  During pregnancy, abdominal muscles become stretched and may weaken.  Also, it may result in core imbalance, which can also lead to back pain.
      • Pregnancy hormones – Hormones released during pregnancy allow ligaments in the pelvic area to soften and the joints to become looser in preparation for giving birth.  If the joints become too loose, this can lead to back pain. 
      • Nutrition and vitamin balance  - A nutrition imbalance can throw off your hormones and result in back pain.
      • Stress –As noted in “Are Your Emotions Causing Your Back Pain,” many people are often reluctant to admit there is an emotional cause for their back pain.  But, emotions and stress are major contributors to back pain.  

Tips for Relieving Back Pain At Home During Pregnancy

The Mayo Clinic offers several tips to relieve back pain during pregnancy, and below I offer additional tips:

        • Exercise - The American College of Obstetricians andGynecologists discusses how to exercise safely during pregnancy, including walking, riding a stationary bike, swimming, modified yoga, and modified Pilates.
        • Stretching and Posture Improvement – You can use your Backbridge to do stretches that fight the forward hunch caused by the weight of a baby pulling you forward.  Additionally, choose a chair that supports your back, or place a Backbridge behind your lower back in your chair.  Listed below are a few stretches you can do with the Backbridge:
          • Spinal Stretch: Lie on your back and place the Backbridge under your knees. Additionally, you can reach your arms behind you to lengthen the spine.

          • Child's Pose: To stretch the lower back as well as the inner thighs, place your elbows on the Backbridge with palms pressed together, and sit back into your heels.
          • Knees To Chest: For a lower back stretch, wrap your hands around your knees and gently pull your knees to your chest, while reaching and lengthening your tailbone down toward the Backbridge.
  • Nutrition – While it is best to visit a nutritionist to identify whether you are over/under-producing hormones, general nutrition recommendations for getting hormones back into balance include the following:
    • Choose the least-refined carbs
    • Balance your carbs with protein at each meal
    • Opt for healthy fats at each meal (nuts, seeds, etc.)
    • Limit your sugar intake to one desert (or less) per day
  • Sleep on Your Side - According to the American Pregnancy Association the best sleep position for pregnant women is to “sleep on side (SOS),” as “sleeping on your left side will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.” Further, “keep your legs and knees bent, and put a pillow between your legs.”
  • Acupuncture – Acupuncture is helpful to rebalance the body’s chi.  Find a practitioner who is well-versed in both traditional and holistic approaches to hormonal imbalances.
  • Stress Reduction - Studies have shown that listening to soothing music 25 minutes per day can lower your stress hormone levels up to 25%, which cuts your risk of back pain by 50%.  Breathing techniques and meditation can help you calm your mind and relax muscles. If you need more advanced therapy, you can find help with a counselor, therapist, biofeedback specialist, and in more advanced cases, a psychiatrist.

If you have severe back pain during pregnancy or back pain that lasts more than a week, make sure you consult your healthcare provider. Though many doctors may simply recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc.), you now know that there are many underlying root causes of back pain in pregnant women.

Follow the tips above to eliminate back pain during pregnancy, and if needed, consult a wholistic care specialist.  In addition to pain relief, the team of chiropractors at Tru Whole Care work with expecting mothers to achieve the following 10 benefits of during pregnancy: pain relief, improved balance, nausea relief, improved immune system, bowl regularity, mental clarity and health, reduced risk of C-sections, improve baby positioning, labor preparation, and postpartum healing.