by: Melissa Macdonald
Are you pregnant and in pain? You are not alone, over half of all pregnant women experience back pain that affects their daily activities.
What causes the pain?
During pregnancy there is a softening of ligaments, stretching of the abdominal muscles, weight gain and postural changes , these combined put excessive strain though the spine and pelvis. There are three common areas where pain may be felt: the low back, the pelvis at the back or the pelvis at the front (or pubic symphysis). The pain can be achiness or so sharp that you are unable to walk.
The great news is that there is help!
As a Physiotherapist the first thing I do is recommend that pregnant women experiencing these pains wear a pregnancy brace. Which brace you choose depends on where you are feeling the pain.
If your pain is in your low back then a wide brace that helps to lift the weight of the abdomen is best, but if your pain is more pelvic in nature then wearing a pelvic belt which is narrower and sits lower is recommended – this works by holding your pelvic bones together (the job that the ligaments are supposed to do but can’t as they are softening to prepare for childbirth).
Wearing a pregnancy belt or brace gives immediate relief and can be worn as much as needed. Pregnancy belts are fastened with Velcro and can be adjusted as your pregnancy progresses.
The second thing I always do is teach some basic core stability and pelvic strengthening exercises or recommend a pregnancy exercise DVD designed by a Physiotherapist.
There are other things you can do to help alleviate back and pelvic pain associated with pregnancy. These include:
- Sleep with a pregnancy pillow
- Avoid excessive bending and lifting
- Use a correct lifting technique where you bend at your knees
- Correct your posture
- Try not to overdo it especially with housework or manual tasks
- Rest regularly
- Use a heat wheat pack
- Wear flat, supportive shoes
- Avoid excessive weight gain
- Move with your legs together to avoid shearing the pelvic bones, e.g.- when getting in and out of the bed or car
- Try to stand with your weight evenly distributed between both feet
If you have done all of these things and are still experiencing pain, then visiting a Physiotherapist for hands on treatment is required.
Following these tips, purchasing a pregnancy brace and strengthening your core muscles will allow you a happy, healthy pregnancy just as you imagined it.