Back pain is very common for pregnant women and can cause a lot of discomfort. It is most likely that you will experience pain in your lower back, however women can also ache in their upper back, shoulders, between their breasts and in their ribcage. It is often caused by pregnancy hormones relaxing your ligaments and the weight which you gain as your bump grows can intensify the problem. It can also result in old injuries resurfacing such as long-standing neck or pelvis problems.
Here are our top tips for how to soothe back pain -
1. If you have an office job and sit down for long periods of time, for example if you drive regularly, make sure that you are sitting comfortably. Try not to cross your legs and check that the position of your computer screen and chair is correct. You could even try a lumbar support cushion for your seat.
2. It is a good idea to avoid standing for too long in one position. If you have to stand for long periods of time, make sure that you keep changing from one foot to the other and sit down when you can. Try to focus on your posture and make sure that you stand up straight and ensure your chin isn't tilting upwards. If you must stand for long periods of time for your job, you can ask to have any tasks which put strain on your back reviewed. Your employer should carry out a risk assessment of your role now that you're pregnant.
3. Sleep can be difficult during pregnancy and this is made even worse if your back is hurting. When in bed, use plenty of pillows to support your chest, hips, and lower back, whilst a firm mattress can also help to prevent and relieve backache. If your mattress is too soft, put a piece of hardboard under it to make it firmer. Also, it is recommended that you keep your thighs parallel as this prevents your top leg from twisting across your body while you sleep which can result in back pain.
4. A maternity belt is also recommended by experts. It is a supportive undergarment, which can be bought in many maternity clothing shops, that helps to hold up the belly so the pelvic girdle and lower back aren't put under too much strain. Doctors generally advise women to try these belts and use them if they work as a complement to other remedies.
5. Wear the right size supportive maternity bra. Make sure the straps are wide enough and the cups are big enough to avoid extra strain on your shoulders and ribcage.
6. Many women try prenatal yoga in order to soothe back pain. It is often recommended as it can help improve posture as well as tackle emotional stress with breathing exercises which relax both your body and mind.
7. Swimming is also one of the most highly recommended forms of exercises for pregnant women because it takes pressure off the spine. A dip in the pool can help to soothe back pain but make sure that you stay well hydrated and stop swimming if you experience any dizziness.
8. Alternatively, you could try a certified prenatal massage therapist in order to bring quick relief when back pain is acute, such as a Swedish massage which is one of the gentler massages on offer. On the other hand, many women try acupuncture to relieve an achy back. Women should first consult their doctors to make sure a prenatal massage or acupuncture is a safe option for them.