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Managing Back Pain in Pregnancy: Tips and Resources all Moms Should Know


By Rue Khosa, ARNP, FNP-BC, CBE, LS

Are you pregnant and suffering from back pain? Here is a quick read on all the things you need to know and resources you can use to effectively manage back pain in pregnancy.

Back pain is one of the most common discomforts women face during pregnancy, and this pain increases as the baby grows. Up to 70% of women will experience some back pain during their pregnancy.

Why?

• Relaxin – is a hormone released by your body that, as its name suggests, causes the ligaments to relax in preparation of the baby’s passage through the pelvis. Consequently, your back loses support as the ligaments that hold your spine in its normal position relax as well.
• Weight gain – most women will gain between 25 and 40 pounds, and this additional weight increases the strain on the back.
• Center of gravity – there is a shift in your center of gravity as your baby and uterus grow and your belly grows outwards.
• Poor posture – prolonged standing, sitting, bending over and wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support or heels, further exacerbates this problem.
• Stress – increased stress causes tension, which often manifests as back pain

What can you do?

• EXERCISE! EXERCISE! EXERCISE! It is important to keep fit and work on strengthening your core and lower back prior to and during pregnancy. If you are already pregnant, do not start any new workout activities or programs without clearance from your doctor. If partaking in a fitness program do so with a certified prenatal instructor.
• Wear appropriate shoes and avoid high heels. High heels tend to further shift your center of gravity and provide poor support/stability.
• Avoid being in any one position for a prolonged period. Sit when you need to. Squat to pick up low objects. Avoid lying on your back. Use pregnancy support pillows for increased comfort as needed especially when lying down.
• Use a Belly Band. This can be a lifesaver, as your belly gets bigger, especially for those of you who have to be on your feet all day. Also, Wear support hoses if you have to stand for prolonged periods or do at lot of standing and walking.
• See a massage therapist or chiropractor, make sure they are certified in prenatal massage/care and have the right equipment to support your belly and back.
• Try heat or ice packs on your back, see which you prefer.
• Tylenol is the ONLY over the counter medication approved for pain during pregnancy. It has a pregnancy category B safety rating. DO NOT take Ibuprofen, Aleve or Advil during the 1st and 3rd trimester. In certain circumstances your midwife or obstetrician (OB) may prescribe this class of medications during your second trimester. Never take any medications without consulting your midwife or OB first.
• WATER, WATER, WATER. Stay well hydrated, EAT WELL, avoid excessive weight gain, and get lots of rest. Again, sit when you can or need to, and put your feet up, you deserve it. After all you are “making” a human.

Reference:
American Pregnancy Association,. “Back Pain During Pregnancy: Causes, Treatment & Prevention”. N.p., 2012. Web. 11 Jan. 2016.

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