Pelvic and back pain are two of the most common pregnancy complaints. Learn how to ease the pain with these natural therapies and helpful strategies.
If you’ve ever been pregnant, it’s more than likely you’ve had back or pelvic pain. These are two of the most common pregnancy complaints. Often, the pain gets so bad it can disrupt your work, daily routine or sleep. In fact, pelvic and/or back pain is the leading cause of disability and sick leave during pregnancy.
But why suffer? Research has shown that there are several therapies and strategies that can ease the pain and get you back on track.
First, call your doctor if you are having back or pelvic pain to be sure you are not going into labor or are having a medical issue that needs to be addressed.
The root of the problem
Though the pain can occur at any point during your pregnancy, it is more common in the later stages, as your weight goes up. Women who are most at risk are those who are overweight or have had back pain prior to pregnancy. In addition:
- Most pregnancy weight gain is distributed around your abdomen. This puts pressure on your back as your center of gravity shifts forward.
- As your baby grows and your pelvis starts to spread, certain pregnancy hormones make your joints less stable, leading to pain in the back.
- The extra weight of your baby also changes the center of gravity of your body. This increases the postural strain, causing back pain.
Relief is on the way
Back and pelvic pain are hard to prevent completely. But, there are things you can do to lessen its severity or frequency.
Research has shown that the following therapies, when combined with standard treatment, have been more effective at easing these conditions than standard treatment alone.
Acupuncture. This is an ancient Chinese healing technique that involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points in the body. It is usually safe and painless when done properly. Several studies have shown that acupuncture, when used with more traditional treatments, may give some relief from back and pelvic pain. Check with your doctor before you start any acupuncture treatment. Always look for a qualified practitioner who is licensed or certified.
Stabilizing exercises, such as stretching and light movement, have been shown to decrease muscle spasms. This leads to easier labor, delivery and recovery after childbirth.
They can also help strengthen and stretch muscles that support the back and legs and promote good posture. This keeps the muscles of the back, the abdomen, the hips and the upper body strong.
Before you start any exercises, check with your doctor, who can advise you on the proper exercises and suggest any restrictions, if needed.
Water gymnastics is geared toward expectant mothers from their 20th week right up to birth time. The classes, known as “aqua-natal” classes, are generally conducted in a warm hydrotherapy indoor pool. They are thought to help ease back or pelvic pain for the following reasons:
- Exercising in water relieves stress on weight-bearing joints and allows increased freedom of movement.
- When the body is immersed in water it experiences hydrostatic pressure – a sort of inward squashing force. This can often significantly reduce swelling on the lower limbs and also help relieve joint pain.
Check out your local “Y” or gym to see if classes are offered in your area. Check with your doctor first to make sure these classes are right for you.
Pregnant women have also reported these strategies to be helpful:
- Squat to pick up something versus bending over.
- Avoid high heels and other shoes that do not provide adequate support. High heels also shift your center of gravity forward.
- Avoid sleeping on your back.
- Take a warm bath, or apply a warm jet of water from a showerhead to your back.
- Get plenty of rest. Elevating your feet is also good for your back.
- Sleep on your left side and use a support pillow under your knees and/or your tummy.
Though back or pelvic pain is common in pregnancy, you do want to contact your doctor right away if you are having any of the following:
- Severe back pain
- Pain that does not improve
- Back or pelvic pain that goes along with any vaginal bleeding or urinary problems
- Increasingly severe or sudden onset of back pain
- Rhythmic cramping pains – a possible sign of preterm labor
Back and pelvic pain can be an uncomfortable side effect of pregnancy, but you don’t have to let it rule your life. Take these measures to ensure some control over your condition for a happier, healthier pregnancy.