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Back pain during pregnancy

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful and special times in a mother’s life, but it can also be one of the most challenging! A common side-effect that we see in our pregnant clients is lower back pain and it being dismissed as a part of the pregnancy and something that is inevitable. Ladies, this is not the case!

Back pain is a common problem that can affect you at any stage in your life. If you have underlying back issues, it’s highly likely that they will flare up during pregnancy. Some of the most common causes of back pain during pregnancy are:

  1. Postural changes- as your baby grows, your body adjusts its posture to try and balance you out. This can often lead to an excessive curve and pressure through the lower back.

  2. The baby itself- the position of your baby can cause pressure on nerves which may refer pain.

  3. Added weight- as the baby gets bigger, there is more weight that your back has to support. This applies pressure through your vertebrae and as a result your muscles tighten to compensate.

  4. Stress- stress hormones indicate to the muscles that there is something wrong, as a protective response, the muscles may contract and cause ongoing tension through the back.

  5. Sleep- either a lack of sleep or being limited in comfortable sleeping positions can be a huge cause of back pain during pregnancy.

Like all things pregnancy, the way in which back pain presents itself will vary for every mum. The most common form of back pain that we see is pain or pressure felt through the lower back. This may also lead down into the hips and in some cases, sciatica symptoms are felt also.

Pregnancy massage is a specialised form of massage that should only be done by a trained therapist who understands the contraindications for the different stages of pregnancy. All of our massage therapists are highly trained in pregnancy massage. When it is is performed by a professional, pregnancy massage is safe throughout the pregnancy. Our pregnancy treatments are performed using a pregnancy pillow. This is essentially an additional layer to the treatment table, which allows you to lay face down without any harm to your body or your baby and allows us to effectively treat your lower back and hips to relieve some of the tension and pain.

Not only will pregnancy massage alleviate some of your back pain, other benefits are:

  1. Relieve muscle cramping (especially in the calves)

  2. Lessen any sciatic pain or symptoms

  3. Promote lymph flow to reduce swelling

  4. Increase circulation for you and your baby

  5. Relieve stress and anxiety

  6. Promote hormonal regulation

  7. Promote better sleep

  8. Improved immune system for both you and your baby

For you to feel the full benefits of your pregnancy treatments and reduce ongoing back pain, we want to provide you with tools to incorporate into your day to support your body.

  1. Maintain good posture- whilst pregnant, your body is likely to want to hunch over, it’s important that you correct this and keep your body in alignment. This involves standing up tall and straight whilst your shoulders are back. This also includes not wearing high heels! The postural forces when wearing heels enhances the strains that the body is already under during pregnancy.

  2. Heat!- During your pregnancy, heat will be your best friend! Actually, this friendship will last right through until after the baby is born and for life! Applying heat to muscles encourages blood flow to the area and it also encourages the tissue to relax. Not only this, but it also feels great! You may choose a wheat filled heat pack, a hot water bottle or a warm bath (with some epsom salts).

  3. Keep active- all physical activity should be approved by your doctor before you begin. We recommend prenatal pilates as you should receive a program specific to you, it will maintain your strength and flexibility without adding extra stress and load onto your body.

  4. Support your body during sleep- whilst you are pregnant, it is important that you sleep on your left-hand side (especially during the third trimester). To reduce the strain on your lower back, place your top knee on a pillow, this will reduce the twist through the lower back and align your hips and a pillow behind your back to support your lower back and prevent you from rolling over in your sleep. You may wish to purchase a pregnancy pillow or use regular pillows.

  5. Stretch- last but certainly not least, stretch! As we have discussed already, the postural impacts on your lower back can be painful. A great way to counteract this and support your lower back muscles is to stretch them out. A simple and effective way to do this is what we call ‘resting position’. This involves sitting on the edge of a chair with your legs wide apart and leaning forward. Your baby bump should sit between your legs as you arch through your spine and elongate the lower back.

It is important to be aware of your pains throughout your pregnancy. If at any stage your back pain becomes severe, make an appointment with your doctor. Back pain can sometimes also be a sign of something else going on. You may also want to get clearance from your doctor prior to having a pregnancy massage. If there have been any complications with the pregnancy, we will ask you to consult your doctor before your treatment.

Back pain is a common problem throughout pregnancy, but it is not something that you have to suffer through! We are here to help and to provide you with the tools to help yourself!

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