Pregnancy is an amazing experience, but it can also put strain on the body in new ways. Up to 70% of pregnant women experience back pain at some point during pregnancy. This common complaint has multiple underlying causes that are important to understand.
As the baby grows, the abdomen expands outwards and forwards. To compensate, expectant mothers progressively arch their lower back which shifts the center of gravity forward. This places extra tension on the spine and strains the back muscles which can lead to that all-too-familiar backache.
Additionally, the hormone relaxin gets released to allow the ligaments in the pelvis to stretch and make room for the baby’s passage through the birth canal. However, it also loosens ligaments throughout the body making joints more unstable. The combination of shifted weight and unstable joints contributes greatly to back pain. Being mindful of these factors can help pregnant women minimize unnecessary strain.
Maintaining Good Posture to Prevent Discomfort
With the body undergoing such dynamic changes during pregnancy, maintaining good posture is essential to avoid pain and discomfort. The additional weight in the abdominal region can pull the pelvis forward, forcing the back to overarch to compensate. This misalignment places strain on the spine which manifests as back pain.
By improving posture, pregnant women can align the spine properly. Imagine a straight line passing through the ear, shoulder, hip joint and just in front of the ankle. Tighten the abdominal muscles to prevent the pelvis from tilting too far forward. Distribute weight evenly between both feet to avoid leaning or slouching to one side. These simple adjustments keep the back in a healthy neutral position minimizing strain.
Making small posture corrections throughout the day can yielding lasting relief. Set cell phone alerts as reminders to straighten up. Place pillows strategically to provide extra back support. Wearing a maternity support belt redirects weight off the spine as well. With some mindfulness and minor interventions, expectant mothers can achieve proper spinal alignment and prevent unnecessary back pain.
How Pregnancy Affects Spinal Alignment and Posture
The human spine has four natural curves designed to bear weight, allow movement and absorb shock. During pregnancy the additional weight in the front of the body causes the spine to curve drastically, especially in the lower back. As pregnant women shift their center of gravity and compensate for the baby bump, increased stress gets placed on the spine contributing to postural imbalances.
Specifically, the lumbar curve (lower back) increases, which is called lordosis. This excessive arching crunches the vertebrae and strains the surrounding muscles. Furthermore, tilted pelvis and shoulders leaning back also force the thoracic (middle) and cervical (neck) sections of the spine out of alignment. These distorted spinal curves redistribute weight unevenly culminating in that nagging backache.
If left unchecked, poor posture can have long term consequences like accelerated disc degeneration and arthritis. By recognizing common postural changes during pregnancy, women can mitigate pain through targeted exercises, use supplementary support and practice good posture habits. Protecting the spine during pregnancy and beyond is paramount for wellbeing.
Tips for Maintaining Proper Posture Throughout Pregnancy
Pregnancy causes a shift in the body’s center of gravity that can negatively impact posture. Here are useful tips to maintain good posture throughout pregnancy:
- Stand Tall – Pretend an invisible thread is gently pulling the crown of the head upwards. Allow the spine to stretch vertically recruiting the core muscles. This creates space between each vertebrae reducing pressure.
- Engage Core Muscles – Contract abdominal muscles to prevent excessive arching in lower back. Draw shoulders back squeezing the shoulder blades together opening up the chest.
- Sit Back Completely – Don’t perch at the edge of the seat. Sit with back straight and shoulders relaxed. Use cushions for extra lumbar support. Avoid crossing legs which causes uneven weight distribution and strain.
- Take Movement Breaks – Change positions frequently and incorporate gentle stretches. After sitting or standing 20 minutes, take a short walk around to reset posture.
- Wear Supportive Footwear – Pregnancy increases weight carried in the front of the body. Wearing shoes with arch support and a slight heel helps distribute weight properly and prevent strain.
By integrating these tips into daily routines, pregnant women can maintain proper posture, prevent pain and prepare their bodies for the physical demands of labor and delivery.
Exercises & Stretches to Relieve Pregnancy Back Pain
Regular stretching keeps muscles supple minimizing discomfort caused by postural changes during pregnancy. Here are simple yet effective exercises that can be done daily to alleviate back pain:
- Pelvic Tilts – This gentle exercise strengthens abdominal muscles improving core stability and taking pressure off the lower spine.
How to: Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Tighten stomach muscles pressing lower back into the floor to flatten it. Hold for 5 seconds then release. Repeat 10 times.
- Cat Cow Pose – The cat cow stretch limbers up the entire spine and connects breath with movement.
How to: Starting on all fours, inhale pressing belly down as the head lifts up in cow pose. Exhale as back rounds up like an angry cat and head drops down. Repeat slowly 5-10 times.
- Knee Hug – This exercise stretches lower back muscles by gently bringing thighs towards chest.
How to: Lying on back, bend knees into chest. Interlace fingers underneath right knee. Gently pull leg closer hugging it until a stretch is felt. Hold for 20 seconds, repeat on opposite leg. Do 2-3 reps per leg.
By practicing these simple yet effective exercises regularly, pregnant women can stretch the back, strengthen core and alleviate discomfort associated with postural changes. Be sure to move slowly, listen to the body and stop immediately if any exercise causes pain. Staying active promotes strength, balance and comfort during pregnancy.
Using Pillows to Improve Posture & Relieve Back Pain
Pregnancy pillows can greatly relieve back pain and enhance posture alignment. Designed specifically to support the pregnant form, these pillows improve comfort and prevent strain. Here are popular styles that safely elevate rest:
- Belly Support Pillows – These wedge-shaped pillows lift the belly reducing backward arching of the lower spine when side sleeping. Placing one between the knees also helps maintain proper hip alignment and takes pressure off the back.
- Body Pillows – Extra-long pillows allow the whole body to rest comfortably supported. Placing lengthwise prevents rolling onto the back which strains spine. Can also be positioned between knees or propped behind the back where needed.
- Lumbar Support Pillows – Shaped to fill space in the curve of lower back, these pillows provide customized support and relief of pressure points. Useful when sitting for prolonged periods.
By taking pressure off ligaments and problem areas, pregnancy pillows encourage neutral alignment letting strained muscles relax. This helps expecting mothers get truly restorative rest minimizing next-day aches and pains. Consider using them during late pregnancy and early postpartum recovery for maximum comfort.
Ergonomic Adjustments to Prevent Pregnancy Back Pain
Ergonomics focuses on optimizing the environment to prevent injury and discomfort. During pregnancy, making a few ergonomic adjustments can minimize strain on the body:
- Seating – Chairs with ample lumbar support, seat width and height adjustability accommodate the changing body comfortably. Lumbar cushions and small pillows also enhance support. Avoid low soft seating that distorts posture.
- Desk Height – Set work surfaces at elbow height to prevent hunching shoulders or overarching the neck which put pressure on the spine. If too high, use a foot rest to eliminate strain.
- Computer Position – Place screen at eye-level to avoid repetitive motion injuries from looking up or down excessively. Position keyboard and mouse within easy reach so torso stays centered without overextending.
- Schedule Movement Breaks – Get up and take short gentle walks every 30 minutes to improve circulation and reset posture. Simple stretches help keep muscles flexible and functioning optimally.
By modifying the workstation, pregnant women can save their backs. Seeking comfort may mean choosing function over form by incorporating ergonomic and supportive accessories. The investment pays dividends in reduced pain and healthier posture for mom and baby.
Creating a Pregnancy-Friendly Workstation
Making necessary ergonomic adjustments transforms an everyday workstation into a pregnancy-friendly one. Key areas to modify for back support include:
- Seat Adjustability – Chairs should offer customizable lumbar support. Adjustable height and tilt prevent hunching and over extension. Avoid seats pressing on the backs of knees which cuts off circulation.
- Desk Placement – Position monitor directly in front so head and neck don’t twist. Adjust height so top third of screen aligns with eyes reducing strain. Place keyboard, mouse and documents within easy reach.
- Reduce Glare – Position workstation perpendicular to windows and away from overhead lighting which creates glare making it difficult to view screen comfortably.
- Foot Support – Feet should rest flat to takes pressure off lower back. If desk is too tall, use a foot rest. If too short, adjust chair height.
By proactively modifying equipment to complement the changing pregnant form, women can prevent strain and discomfort at work. Small upgrades make a big difference keeping moms-to-be healthy and thriving professionally as they await their newest arrival.
Seeking Professional Help for Pregnancy Back Pain
While most back pain subsides post-delivery, severe or persistent pregnancy-related back pain warrants professional help. Consulting a chiropractor, physical therapist or other specialist can provide lasting relief.
Seeking early intervention is key before small issues become exacerbated. Warning signs justifying professional help include:
- Pain lasting 2 weeks or more
- Difficulty sitting, standing or walking for extended periods
- Disturbed sleep or inability to get comfortable
- Pain, numbness or tingling radiating down legs
These therapists offer a variety of treatments tailored to alleviate pregnancy-related back pain including:
- Chiropractic Adjustments – Gentle manipulation of the joints and spine brings them back into optimal alignment taking pressure off nerves.
- Massage – Relaxes tight muscles and increases blood flow to improve recovery and range of motion.
- Physical Therapy – Prescribed exercises strengthen core muscles supporting the additional weight of pregnancy.
By seeking professional guidance, pregnant women can avoid unnecessary suffering and potentially long-lasting back issues. These experts provide tools and tips so women can enjoy a happy, healthy pregnancy from bump to baby!