We’re still in the throes of a frozen winter – which just so happens to be a very popular time to conceive. If you’re pregnant or considering it, there are a few things to be aware of when it comes to your back and spinal health. Women who have experienced chronic back pain or other spine issues and are hoping to become pregnant should visit a spine first. Chronic spinal conditions can worsen during pregnancy due to increased mechanical stress and hormonal changes. This sometimes requires prolonged bed rest toward the end of gestation, or occasionally surgery during the pregnancy.
Even if you’ve never experienced major back pain, according to a 2004 study, more than two thirds of pregnant women reported suffering from lower back pain at some point after the first trimester. And it’s no wonder: with weight gain and a surge of hormones relaxing the ligaments in the pelvis, pregnant women often experience strain on their lower back muscles. There are a number of ways to reduce pain by preparing for back strain during pregnancy.
1. Practice perfect posture. As your center of gravity changes, it can be difficult to keep good posture in mind, but slouching is one of the major causes of strain on the spine during pregnancy. Sitting with your chest high and your shoulders back and relaxed can help reduce pain.
2. Sleep with a pillow. A few weeks back, I discussed sleeping adjustments for those with back pain. Side sleeping with a body pillow is a great way to keep the back aligned, especially for pregnant women. Keeping the hips and back aligned helps reduce strain on the back while sleeping.
3. Take a walk. Sitting for too long can cause undue pressure on your muscles. Talking a brief walk after being seated for a period of time can help keep muscles active and your back strong.
4. Exercise. Exercise can be highly beneficial to mothers when they’re expecting. Strengthening core muscles helps reduce back pain and has even been said to improve labor. Prenatal yoga is also a great way to stretch tense muscles and improve mobility. Remember to always consult your doctor before beginning new exercises, especially during pregnancy.
5. Wear supportive shoes. Proper foot support is vital for reducing back pain. Pregnant women should avoid wearing high heels or flat shoes which can cause strain on core muscles. Shoes with good arch support help take pressure off of back and core muscles.
Keep in mind that severe back pain during pregnancy can also be a sign of preterm labor. If you are pregnant and experiencing significant pain or pain that won’t subside, speak to your personal doctor about it directly.