The gift of life is precious, but women go through various hurdles during pregnancy. Back pain in pregnancy is very common among expectant women but it should be avoided. It’s estimated that 50% to 70% of pregnant women experience some form of back pain. The good news about back pain is your baby is growing.
Research shows that lower back pain in pregnancy occurs during the fifth and seventh month of being pregnant, and in some cases, it begins as early as three to seven weeks. Women with a history of back problems are at a higher risk of back pains and may occur earlier in the pregnancy. For obvious reasons, it’s useful to know the types of pregnancy back pains.
Below we are going to look at the types of pregnancy backaches.
Types of Pregnancy Backaches
There are two common types of back pains during pregnancy.
- Lumbar or lower back pain.
- Posterior pelvic pain.
It’s important to differentiate the above types of back pain in pregnancy and labor pains, which is felt in the back during this time.
Lumbar Back Pain During Pregnancy (Lower Back Pain)
It’s generally the pain located at the back of the waist and the center of the back. Lumbar pain during pregnancy is quite similar to the lower back pain experienced by non-expectant women. This type of pain increases with prolonged posture such as sitting, standing, or repetitive lifting. Tiredness may also be present in the spine during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Pelvic Pain
This pain is far more prevalent than the lower back pain. This pain is felt below, to the side or below the waistline on either side across the tail bone. It can extend into the buttock and portions of the thigh and doesn’t usually radiate below the knees. The pain doesn’t quickly go away with rest, and Morning stiffness may also be present. The following activities can bring posteric pelvic pain;
- Rolling in bed
- Climbing stairs
- Sitting and rising from a seated position (getting in or out of bed or cars)
- Bending, pushing or twisting
- Running or walking
It’s important to know the difference between labor pain and the above mentioned back pains during pregnancy.
Labor Pains During Pregnancy
Labor pains during pregnancy is similar to an intense menstrual cramp and has the following characteristics,
- The Pain is persistent
- The pain occurs Within a short period and increases in frequency and intensity until the child is born.
- the pain occurs naturally and It’s not affected by your level of activities like back pain
Causes of Back Pain in Pregnant Women
There are many reasons why you are getting back pains during pregnancy, and these are some of the reasons,
Weight gain. During a healthy pregnancy, women gain approximately 25 to 35 pounds, and the spine has to support that weight. The growing uterus and the baby put pressure on the blood vessels, and the nerves in the pelvic plus the weight gained automatically cause a backache.
Hormonal changes. Your body makes a hormone by the name relaxing and allows joints to loosen where the pelvic area to relax awaiting the birth process. It also causes ligaments that support the spine to loosen, leading to instability and pain.
Posture changes.pregnancy shifts your center of gravity and as a result, you may gradually adjust your posture even without knowing. This results in pain, strain, and discomfort.
Stress. Do you know during stressful periods of your pregnancy you might experience increased back pain? This is because emotional stress can cause muscle transition in the back, which may be felt as a backache.
Muscle separation. when the uterus expands the rectal abdominal muscles which run from the rib cage to the pubic bone, separates worsening the back pain.
Treatment for Back Pain in Pregnancy
Fortunately, there is good news; unless you had chronic back pain before you got pregnant, your pain would likely ease before you give birth. Meanwhile, you can do the following to relieve that back pain;
Exercise. Regular exercise strengthens muscles and makes them flexible and can ease the stress on your spine. You need help from a doctor or a physical therapist to recommend an exercise that is safe for you. A simple exercise like walking, swimming, stationary cycling and some stretches are safe for pregnant women.
Heat and cold back therapy. Appling ice on the affected area works well as it temporarily blocks the pain signals and reduces swelling. Start by applying cold substances like a frozen bag of peas from the freezer on the affected area. After a few days switch to the heating method. Put a heating pad on your back, and be careful not to apply heat to your abdomen.
Counselling. As we discussed earlier back pain could be caused by stress. Talking to a counselor can be very helpful in managing your back pain.
Chiropractic. Chiropractic is the manipulation of the spine and if done correctly it can be a safe way of relieving backaches for expectant women. Consult with you doctor before seeking chiropractic care.
When picking or lifting something from the ground squat instead of bending over. Avoid wearing high heels and also don’t sleep on your back.
Acupuncture. it’s a form of Chinese medicine in which needles are inserted into your skin at certain locations. The thought of sticking needles into the skin scares a lot of us, but research shows that acupuncture can be efficient in relieving back pains during pregnancy. Again, you will have to check with your health care provider if you are interested in trying this method.
When to Consult a Doctor
If you have a severe back pain in pregnancy that last for more than two weeks, you will have to talk to your doctor. Medication such as acetaminophen may be recommended.
In some cases, back pain during pregnancy may be a sign of preterm labor, or urinary tract infection. If you are having back pain during pregnancy accompanied by vaginal bleeding, fever or burning urination, contact your health care provider immediately.
When the pain persists, consult your doctor to see what else you might try. Before taking any pain killer medication also consult a professional. The primary goal is to take care of your unborn baby, and it’s a battle you will have to win.