Backache or back pain during pregnancy usually commences by the fifth month of pregnancy, when the body undergoes structural changes to accommodate the growing child inside. The pain is usually associated with soreness and stiffness. Although a common occurrence, back pain during pregnancy should be addressed as soon as possible and managed throughout the pregnancy.
Causes of Back Pain in Pregnancy
There could be various reasons for the backache. The changes in the body during the period of pregnancy determine the intensity and the type of back pain in most women. Back pain that occurs because of weight gain depends upon the extent to which the spine can bear the burden. The weight gain during a healthy pregnancy can vary between 10 to 15 kilograms. This weight can strain the back.
Pain can also occur due to shift in the center of gravity and postural changes that cause the back to strain. Two parallel sheets of muscles that run from the rib cage to the pubic bone get separated due to the expanding uterus. This could also cause the backache.
Hormonal changes can contribute to the backache. As the body prepares for delivery, it releases a hormone to loosen the muscles and ligaments in the body, which can increase the stress on muscles at the back.
Enlargement of breast tissue during pregnancy can increase the strain on the muscles of the neck, shoulders and the thorax region, causing upper backache during pregnancy.
Stress is a major factor that could trigger or worsen the back pain that results from other reasons.
Types of Back Pain in Pregnancy
There are different regions of the back that can be affected during pregnancy. Pain can occur in the waist region in the center of the back; it is aggravated by maintaining same posture for a long time. Pelvic pain occurs typically below and to the side at the waistline, across the tailbone, in one or both sides. Upper back pain in the thoracic region, usually occurs during the third trimester due to shifting of gravity and postural changes.
Managing Back Pain during Pregnancy
Maintaining neutral standing and sitting postures and neutral spine while sleeping can help avoid upper and lower back pain. Changing the posture frequently, applying heat and cold to the back, sleeping on the side with a pillow between knees, resting the feet on a higher level while sitting are all techniques to ease the strain on the back.
Exercises during Pregnancy
Stretching exercises for shoulders, neck, chest, hips and legs can help keep the muscles toned and strengthen them for bearing the added weight during pregnancy. In general, simple and safe stretching routines can ease the pain, decrease the muscle spasm and lessen the strain on the spine. Aquanatal exercises or gentle exercise in water are also advised. However, it is not advisable to exercise to lose weight, to the point of exhaustion or on an empty stomach.
Prenatal Yoga to ease the Back Pain
Yoga is generally advised in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. It has to be done with expert advice only.
Prenatal yoga is now suggested to alleviate the back pain. The ancient exercises and postures can help tone and strengthen muscles and improve blood circulation without any impact on the joints. Yoga can be different during each of the three trimesters and has to be done with expert advice only.
The breathing exercises or Pranayam and meditation in Yoga creates a bond between the mother and child and also prepares the body of the mother for the birth process in everyway. Standing postures like Virabhadrasana II or Warrior II Pose is helpful for strengthening the legs. Posture of kneeling on hands and knees and rounding the back up towards the ceiling helps bring the baby to the right position for delivery and also prepares the pelvic muscles for the delivery.
Some of the yoga postures could be unsafe during pregnancy. Lying on the back, upside-down postures, strong twists, breathing exercises involving holding breath or taking short, forceful breaths, etc are not recommended during pregnancy.
Managing back pain during pregnancy can be possible with an understanding of the reason for it. Back pain, although common in pregnancy, can be managed well for a healthy and happy pregnancy.
- Prenatal Yoga Poses for Each Trimester - (http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/879)
Latest Publications and Research on Back Pain during Pregnancy
- Sleep disorders in pregnancy. - Published by PubMed
- Factors associated with persistent pain after childbirth: a narrative review. - Published by PubMed
- The effect of physiotherapy intervention on the load of the foot and low back pain in pregnancy. - Published by PubMed
- Changes in segmental mass and inertia during pregnancy: A musculoskeletal model of the pregnant woman. - Published by PubMed
- Acute Herpes Simplex Virus Hepatitis in Pregnancy. - Published by PubMed