As your baby grows from within, the weight and position of the baby puts strain on the arch of the lower back, and it is fairly common to experience backache and exhaustion as the pregnancy progresses.
This is a time when your hormones cause your ligaments to relax and prepare your body for labour and delivery.
Pre-existing back condition:
Some women may have a pre-existing back condition (eg. spondylitis, scoliosis or lumbar disc), which may become severe during the pregnancy. In some cases, however, these issues may surprisingly improve due to the pregnancy. In either situation, inform your doctor about it and take the requisite precautions and rest.
If there is any minor / major injury to the back, the first step is to inform the doctor and get it checked. The important thing is to ensure that it will not affect the labour and delivery later on.
Only take prescribed painkillers which your doctor gives. Paracetamol is usually considered safe during pregnancy (except if you are allergic to it). Do not consume aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
In most cases, it is possible to be given an epidural during labour, if there has been a prior injury.
Sometimes, back pain could indicate premature labour or a urinary tract infection. Immediately consult your doctor if you also have bleeding from your vagina, painful urination or any signs of premature labour.
Ways to look after your back during pregnancy:
Speak to your doctor and physiotherapist to teach you simple stretches to strengthen your shoulders, pelvic area, upper back, middle and lower back. These should be done slowly and consciously, without jerks or sudden movements.
- Watch your posture. Don’t slouch or lean at odd angles, to avoid putting pressure on the back. Sit straight, so that your spine is symmetrical, and rest your feet on a foot stool if needed. While standing or walking, align your body weight equally on both sides
- Be kind to yourself. Avoid bending, lifting heavy items, getting up on ladders or climbing steep slopes. Ask for help when you cannot manage
- If you are a picking up something from a lower level, bend your knees (not back), tighten your pelvic muscles and lift the object while maintaining your back straight
- Sleep sideways, in a comfortable position by keeping a soft pillow between your knees. While getting off the bed, support yourself on your arms and then slowly get up
- Switch to footwear with small heels and arch support. Do not wear high heels or flats
- The mattress matters. Choose a thick, firm mattress so that it can prevent back discomfort and help alleviate back pain
- Use a maternity support belt if needed. This is also helpful if one is travelling in the car or on a plane
- Keep a cushion in your car for back support
- Reach out to a certified yoga teacher or Pilates instructor, once you have your doc’s permission to start regular exercises
- Quit smoking and alcohol completely
This is a very beautiful chapter of your life, and it is important to prioritise your safety, comfort and well-being at all times.