Health & Medical Alternative Medicine

Low-Back Pain During Pregnancy

So you're expecting a child soon! That's wonderful! Whether you have just gotten the news, or are approaching the big day, you are probably going through quite a bit of physical change and discomfort. Low-back pain afflicts more than half the population of pregnant women. It's something that can happen at any point during a pregnancy, and is very common. The causes are both chemical and physical, as your hormones and center of gravity undergo significant change.

A lot of women are shocked by the amount of back pain they feel very early in their pregnancy. The first hormone that causes low-back pain in early pregnancy is progesterone. While progesterone enables embryo implantation and gestation, this hormone also has the effect of softening the ligaments and disks in your back. Spasms or cramps in your lower back may result, as this process limits the amount of support provided to your upper body.
As your pregnancy develops, your body produces more of another hormone, called relaxin. This hormone is essential to labor and delivery; as the name implies, relaxin relaxes the joints in your pelvis, which enables the baby to pass through the birth canal with ample room. However, the hormone can also lead to inflammation and pain in your other joints, as it may cause other joints in your body to move abnormally.

The growing fetus causes several changes contributing to low back pain in pregnancy. Your abdominal muscles are extremely taxed by the demands of your growing fetus and expanding uterus as, in order to accommodate the extra growth, they must stretch well beyond their normal capacity. The effect of this is that your lower back takes on extra weight from your torso, as your abdominal muscles are no longer able to support proper body posture.

In the course of carrying your baby to term, your center of gravity changes by a significant amount. During pregnancy, the average woman will gain seven pounds of solely baby weight, two pounds of placenta, and two pounds of amniotic fluid and uterine tissue! On the other hand, inflammation and pain may result, as hormones can cause abnormal movement of other joints in the body. Though common in pregnant women, back pain should always be taken seriously. Pay attention to any low-back pain you might have, and speak to your healthcare provider about it. This can help to weed out the possibility of ignoring an underlying condition, like an injury from an accident. Dull backaches, felt low and in rhythmic intervals, might indicate labor. Many women have "back labor," which just means that they feel the labor in their back. Severe back pain and fever may indicate an infection, though you may still have an infection without a fever.

There are many techniques at your disposal to control any low-back pain you may experience while pregnant:

• Exercises that focus on stretching, like pelvic tilts.

• Maintaining good posture, by standing straight and tall, keeping your shoulders down and back, and tucking your buttocks under your spine.

• Make an effort not to stand for long periods of time. Though, if you absolutely must do so, you can elevate one foot on a box or low step stool.

• Put a small pillow behind your lower back when you're sitting.

• Don't wear high heels unless absolutely necessary. A far better choice would be flat shoes with proper support for your arches.

• A bit of additional support can come from maternity pants - try to get ones with a wide elastic band you can wear under the belly. You can find maternity belts, or girdles mean specifically for expecting women in healthcare and maternity stores. You may also find that your insurance company covers such a purchase when prescribed by your healthcare provider, so check in with them.

• Keep a pillow between your legs at night, sleeping on your side. Also, if possible, use a firm mattress that supports your back better than softer ones.

• You might try using a maternity pillow, a specially designed pillow for pregnant women that can alleviate some strain in your back.

• Lift objects using your legs, and not your back. Try not to lift heavy objects at all. When you need to carry a large load from one place to another, you should split the task up into smaller parts.

• Stay active! Find out if walking or swimming will work for you by consulting with your healthcare provider.

• See if you can find a trained pregnancy masseuse. You might discover that your partner or friend can provide adequate relief with gentle rubbing or kneading on the sore spots on your back. Warm compresses can be effective. A heating pad set to its lowest point, an adequately warm bath, or arranging yourself on your hands and knees in the shower to direct warm water at your lower back, may all offer relief.

• Acupuncture treatment may also be a good choice for you - but remember again to ask your doctor.

• Pregnant women can use pain relievers with acetominophen, like Tylenol.

Regardless, there are no cure-alls for chronic back pain, whether you seek support your Doctor of Chiropractic or not. Since back pain can often be triggered by overt strain or injury, the pain may last for weeks before you notice any positive changes to your condition; bear this in mind when determining the effectiveness of any treatment. During pregnancy, be sure to pay extremely close attention to your body as it changes, and jot down details as they come. Keep vigilant, even with things that you might have let slide if you didn't have to think about your baby, also. Particularly if this is the first time you are pregnant, brace yourself for changes in your body that will surprise you, in spite of whatever reading you might have done on the subject. This is to be expected. Stay focused on your body, treat low-back pain seriously, and take pleasure in the process of being an expectant mother!

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