Turns out it doesn’t take gaining that much weight to start experiencing aches and pains. Heating pads, wraps and massagers from brands like Geniani as well as pregnancy pillows like Yana can help but, especially if you’re early on in your journey, it’s important to bear in mind that things are unlikely to get better before delivery. So what does one do to alleviate back pain?
“As with most health issues, symptoms vary depending on the person, but generally lower back pain occurs around the fifth to seventh month of being pregnant,” says Dr. Kevin Lees, D.C., manager of auditing and quality for The Joint Chiropractic. “Women that have previously had low back pain may experience back pain earlier, as early as eight to 12 weeks.”
During pregnancy, the hormonal and structural changes that a mother goes through can lead to spinal and pelvic misalignment, this is often what causes lower back pain. “A person’s lower back has a natural curve to it and pregnancy can increase this curve, creating more pressure on the spinal joints,” explains Dr. Lees. “This pain can sometimes be quite severe, all because of the small misalignment and inflammation. As the pregnancy grows, so too can the amount of pressure being put on the body. This often leads to discomfort, pain and soreness in various areas of the body, especially the lower back and the joints of the legs.”
If cleared by an obstetrician, Dr. Lees recommends stretching and exercising to increase motion in the joints, while helps decrease inflammation. “Avoiding shoes with increased heel height might help avoid excess low back curvature as can sleeping on your side with a body pillow or on your back with a pillow under your knees to decrease excess low back curvature.”
While moving is important, remember not to go to the opposite extreme and avoid being on your feet for too long. If you find yourself in more pain because of too much time spent running errands, lay down and rest. You can also try putting your legs up a wall for 10 minutes. “Another option is an exercise ball, which may be beneficial to sit on to increase joint motion and help remove excess pressure,” says Dr. Lees. “There are also exercise and yoga programs tailored for pregnancy, including aqua aerobics, that may help reduce inflammation and symptoms, but be sure to clear any new programs with your doctor before starting.”
If you log into pregnancy social media groups you’ll see a long list of gadgets that women swear by, many of which use heat or ice. Which is better? “Ice helps reduce inflammation as well as decrease sensitivity, while heat may help with relaxing tight muscles and increasing circulation, but should be used with caution as to not aggravate symptoms. Body or pregnancy pillows may assist with getting a more comfortable night’s sleep.”
For those in a position to do so chiropractic care may be beneficial throughout the entirety of pregnancy, not just when back aches and pain begin to appear. In fact many chiropractors specialize in pregnancy (a famous one is Dr. Elliot Berlin). “A mother’s body is under constant change during pregnancy, so management is the key to keeping symptoms at a minimum. Regular adjustments might aid in a healthy and smooth pregnancy, labor and birth.” For more on this topic click here for a podcast with Dr. Elliot Berlin.