Back pain during pregnancy isn't surprising, but it still deserves attention. Consider seven ways to relieve back pain during pregnancy — from good posture and physical activity to complementary therapies.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Back pain during pregnancy is a common complaint — and it's no wonder. You're gaining weight, your center of gravity changes and your hormones are relaxing the ligaments in your pelvis. Often, however, you can prevent or ease back pain during pregnancy. Consider seven ways to give pregnancy back pain the boot.
As your baby grows, your center of gravity shifts forward. To avoid falling forward, you might compensate by leaning back — which can strain the muscles in your lower back and contribute to back pain during pregnancy. Keep these principles of good posture in mind:
- Stand up straight and tall.
- Hold your chest high.
- Keep your shoulders back and relaxed.
- Don't lock your knees.
When you stand, use a comfortably wide stance for the best support. If you must stand for long periods of time, rest one foot on a low step stool — and take time for frequent breaks.
Good posture also means sitting with care. Choose a chair that supports your back, or place a small pillow behind your lower back. Consider propping your feet on a low stool.
Wear low-heeled — not flat — shoes with good arch support.
You might also consider wearing a maternity support belt. Although research on the effectiveness of maternity support belts is limited, some women find the additional support helpful.
When lifting a small object, squat down and lift with your legs. Don't bend at the waist or lift with your back. It's also important to know your limits. Ask for help if you need it.
Sleep on your side, not your back. Keep one or both knees bent. Consider using pregnancy or support pillows between your bent knees, under your abdomen and behind your back.
Use a heating pad to apply heat to your back, or try ice packs. Rubbing your back also might help.
Regular physical activity can keep your back strong and might actually relieve back pain during pregnancy. With your health care provider's OK, try gentle activities — such as walking or water exercise.
You might also stretch your lower back. Rest on your hands and knees with your head in line with your back. Pull in your stomach, rounding your back slightly. Hold for several seconds, then relax your stomach and back — keeping your back as flat as possible. Gradually work up to 10 repetitions. Ask your health care provider about other stretching exercises, too.
Some research suggests that acupuncture can help relieve back pain during pregnancy. Chiropractic treatment seems to provide comfort for some women as well. If you're considering a complementary therapy, discuss the options with your health care provider.
If you have severe back pain during pregnancy or back pain that lasts more than two weeks, talk to your health care provider. He or she might recommend medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or other treatments.
Keep in mind that back pain during pregnancy might be a sign of preterm labor. Also, back pain during pregnancy that's accompanied by vaginal bleeding, fever or burning during urination could be a sign of an underlying problem that needs prompt attention. If you're concerned about your back pain, contact your health care provider right away.
April 10, 2013
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