It’s hard to imagine anything else being as hard on the back as pregnancy. It’s not just the extra weight you’re carrying— it’s loosening ligaments and joints, thanks to hormonal changes; it’s your uterus shifting up after the 12th week; it’s pressure put on your spine nearly all the time. Swelling can even cause pinched nerves in the back. Luckily there are some things you can do to help save your back during (and after) your pregnancy. So, read on to find out the best tips for relief for back pain during pregnancy.
Sleep For Your Back
During the first trimester, sleeping however you want is fine. In general, the best sleeping position for your back is face-up, head straight, with your entire back supported by the mattress.
But, when you get into the second and third trimester, research says it’s best to sleep on your left side. Sleeping the way can help facilitate blood flow and nutrients to your fetus. If you prefer to sleep on your right side, that’s fine too. There’s no evidence that it creates complications or is harmful.
Now, you’ve probably heard that sleeping on your side is not the best for your back. It’s true, side-sleeping pulls your spine out of its natural line, putting pressure on the back. But this is an easy fix. Simply put a pillow between your legs. This serves to raise your hips up and place your spine in a more natural position. You’ve got your choice of pillows for this: regular, body, or a pregnancy pillow.
Treat Your Feet
For tip number two, let’s talk feet. Unless you’ve somehow found (or invented) high heels that are actually comfortable to wear and good for your back, you should treat your feet during your pregnancy.
Wear comfortable shoes that aren’t too tight to facilitate swelling. It’s also fairly common to experience fallen arches during pregnancy because hormonal changes loosening ligaments. Some studies suggest that these changes, which can actually increase foot size, may be permanent. So get some comfy shoes with good support. And don’t feel bad about wearing them everywhere. They can give your legs, feet, butt, and back the help they need.
Try Prenatal Yoga
While you don’t want to overdo it during your pregnancy, exercise is one of the best ways to ward off aches and back pain. Among all your exercise options, prenatal yoga works very well for this— and it has other benefits you can enjoy, like stress relief and birth preparation. Below are a couple of moves you can try at home:
Ankle to Knee
This pose is similar to a regular cross-legged position but a little modified to open up your hips and stretch your back and glutes.
- Sit on the floor and bring your right ankle to rest on top of your right knee.
- Your right knee should be resting on top of your left ankle, so one leg is stacked on the other in front of you.
- For more of a stretch, hinge forward at your waist with you back straight for a few seconds.
- You can spend as long as you want in the position.
Standing Bend (And Sway)
This is a simple pose that can feel incredible on the lower back.
- Stand with your feet apart, slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Bend at the waist, allowing your upper body to fold over.
- Grasp the inner elbow of the opposite arm and allow your head to relax. This will stretch your spine, with gravity doing the work.
- You may try a gentle sway in this position, as it tends to feel very good on the low back.
- Bring your upper body back up after 30 to 60 seconds, or however long feels comfortable.
- Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Massage Therapy Can Work Wonders
Like yoga, massage therapy can be incredibly relaxing and healing. Tense muscles loosen and stress melts away. While it may feel good to have your partner do the massaging, if you’re having significant back pain you may want to see a professional.
Chiropractic Care is Safe and Effective
Many women find great relief in chiropractic care during and after their pregnancy. It’s a great, natural way to improve spinal alignment, reduce pain, and promote healing. Seeing a chiropractor is not only safe during pregnancy, but it can make for a smooth experience and birth. A couple of beneficial things regular chiropractic care can do during pregnancy include:
- Help relieve pelvic and spine pain and tension.
- Help facilitate a smooth and quick delivery.
- Increase your ability to remain active.
- Assist in maintaining or improving overall health.
- Increase your ability to deal with stress.
Water aerobics, swimming, and generally relaxing in a pool can take the stress off your back and reduce your pain. Plus, even some light movement in the pool can help keep your muscles strong and your endorphins flowing. Breathing deeply and floating in the water can help you focus on your body, reduce stress levels, and increase your sense of well-being.
Take It Easy
Okay, this one may be a little obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. While it’s important to exercise during your pregnancy, it’s also important to take it easy. Avoid lifting heavy things and bending over often, if you can help it.
Rest with your feet elevated and your back supported. Breathe deep. There’s no better time than when you’re pregnant to try meditation, if it’s a foreign concept to you. Being pregnant causes all sorts of chemical changes in the body and it can be hard to focus on activities. It can be easy to stress out, so take some time to relax and get centered!
Try a Maternity Belt
You can get a maternity belt online or through a brick-and-mortar maternity store. They act as support, doing some of the work your strained abs may be struggling with. A maternity belt can help prevent back pain by relieving some of the pressure on your spine and pelvic girdle. Try one out to see if it works for you, in addition to other back pain relief options mentioned above.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His Juneau chiropractic practice has received great reviews and top ratings from thousands of patients who received long-lasting relief through chiropractic care, physical rehab therapy, and massage therapy.
He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.