advice

moans and groans:
dealing with back pain in pregnancy

As your lovely little baby piles on the pounds inside your bump, this extra weight is straining your back. Back pain and pregnancy sadly go hand in hand, as both your spine groans from carrying around an extra tiny person, and as other parts of your body start to adapt for childbirth. Your hormones begin making your ligaments stretchy and agile ready for labour, but this in turn takes support away from your back. We never said pregnancy was easy!

back pain pregnancy causes

As your heavy front load keeps getting bigger and bigger your centre of gravity starts to change, so it's no wonder your poor old back is aching! This perfectly healthy weight gain (on average 25-35 pounds) puts pressure mainly on the lower back, while baby helpfully presses on your nerves and blood vessels for extra discomfort.

Without even realising it, you may be adjusting your posture to cope with this weight shift, and this too can create strain. Also, if this wasn't enough, there is a pair of muscles running down from your rib cage to the pubic area which might separate as the uterus expands. This can equally contribute to back pain, as can any episodes of stress.

dealing with pain

Luckily, there are quite a few ways to soothe your aches and to make this journey a little less disagreeable. Gentle exercise helps to strengthen your muscles and increase flexibility. Calming and light activities such as swimming, walking and yoga are all recommended for mums-to-be.

As your bump balloons in the second and third trimesters, try sleeping with a pillow between your knees. Triangular support pillows make sitting up easier, and will come in handy later on for feeding baby. Hot or cold compresses can also help relax your muscles. Try to keep an eye on your posture by sitting and walking as straight as you can, and put those high heels away! If the pain persists, acupuncture or a TENS machine can provide relief.

becoming a strapping lass!

Support belts come in various designs, and can really work wonders as pregnancy back support. Sometimes called “bump bands”, they can either go over or under the bump, or some have a strap that wraps over the top. These go over your knickers and under your clothes, and often have velcro straps making them easy to put on and take off. They do come in knicker-styles as well.

Even if you opt for a bump band, it's still wise to avoid any heavy lifting during pregnancy. If you already have a toddler, get them to climb up onto a step before you pick them up.

cat stretches

As a well-known yoga position, cat stretches are useful for limbering up the spine and undoing knots of tension in your lower back. Get down on all fours facing the floor. Arch your back up, just like a cat, hold for a few seconds, then drop it down again, with your bottom sticking up. This is also a good opportunity to fit in some pelvic floor squeezes!

Equally, when you go shopping, help your back by carrying the bags in each hand and balancing the weight, or invest in a trusty rucksack. This unique time in your life is about looking after yourself, eating healthily and getting lots of rest and relaxation – which is good for both mum and baby.