The pregnant woman rubbing her back is a common image we all have. Prenatal massage is fortunately now widely available for uncomfortable pregnant women. Pregnancy can just be very painful. Most of it is quite “normal” but it’s still painful.
During early pregnancy the hormonal changes in the body designed to help your uterus relax, also helps other muscles relax. This results in less support around your spine and more back pain. This is exacerbated in 2nd and 3rd pregnancies due to an already weak abdominal wall.
As your pregnancy progresses and the uterus grows, there’s increased strain on the back muscles from both the size and weight of the pregnancy but also as the abdominal muscles stretch out and become weaker.
How to prevent back pain
Though not possible to prevent all of it, there are some things that make it less severe:
- Regular exercise that includes strengthening your core and back muscles. Prenatal yoga and prenatal Pilates are great programs to start early in pregnancy
- Regular morning and evening stretches
- Good shoes. Food pain is exacerbated in pregnancy and a pair of good shoes with at least a 1” heel and good arch support can do a lot to prevent and minimize back pain
- A firm mattress and pregnancy pillows. Both or either will help you get more comfortable at night and lessen the discomfort during the day
How to treat back pain
There are fortunately several things that help with back pain in pregnancy
- Stretches of the back often help after a long day
- Heating pads
- Prenatal massage
- Warm baths
- A maternity belt worn during the day
When to get seen
Rarely, back pain is a symptom of something worse. Some things should make you come in and be seen:
- Rhythmic back pain that lasts a few minutes but returns after 10-20 min (especially if closer together)
- Back pain that occurs in the setting of vaginal spotting or bleeding
- One sided back pain that occurs with or after pain with urination or after a diagnosis of a UTI
- Back pain at the time of a fever
- Severe pain that is limiting to your daily activities
- Persistent back pain in spite of all conservative measures above
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