Back & Neck Pain During Pregnancy

Image from; Natural Childbirth Education
Image from; Natural Childbirth Education

Unless you have had back problems previously to being pregnant, or during previous pregnancies, it is uncommon that you should have any in the early stages.

 

In the mid to later stages women develop an increase in the lumbar curve due to the increased weight being carried out in front. This puts more pressure on some of the joints of the spine, causing discomfort and, for some women, pain.

 

As pregnancy progresses into the final stages, relaxin is released in order to prepare for birth which softens the muscles, ligaments and tendons. At this time the body is more unforgiving, old problems with the back and joints are highlighted, and it is easy to overstretch or lift something and it cause more of a problem than normal.

Treatment

Some chiropractors have under taken post graduate studies to train to work with women who are pregnant, and there are many adaptations we can make to our treatment methods and benches to ensure the comfort of our pregnant patients.

 

Evidence suggests it is very beneficial to both mother and baby if the pelvis and lower back functions biomechanically at its best during pregnancy, and especially during the birth. The three joints of the pelvis need to work and expand equally during pregnancy and birth to reduce the risk of over stretching which can lead post-natal pain in that joint. There are also some research articles that suggest chiropractic can reduce labour times and the need for pain relief, due to decreased pressure on the back. 

 

For further details of the benefits and research follow this link to the International Chiropractic Pediatric Assiociation

 

For a personal account of an experience of chiropractic during pregnancy follow this link to Natural childbirth Education 

Prevention

  • Talk to your healthcare professional to discuss stretches and exercises that are suitable for you.
  • The fitter you are and the more muscle tone you have before pregnancy, the more likely you are to be able to cope with the body’s postural changes. 
  • Sleeping with a pillow between the legs, or supporting your bump may help with lower back pain.
  • Core exercises are very useful and you can talk to a chiropractor, GP, midwife or other healthcare professional for advice on this.  During pregnancy specialist yoga classes, taken from 12 weeks onwards, can be very beneficial.  Swimming and aqua natal classes are also of benefit, as being in the water takes the pressure off strained joints whilst providing good exercise and relaxation.  
  • Avoid high heels and wear comfortable, supportive shoes.  If you have children already, it can be difficult as they will need lifting and carrying. 
  • Always lift with your spine straight and bend knees to avoid leaning, stretching or bending.  
  • Do not sit for prolonged periods, take regular breaks and, when sitting, let the seat take your weight and, if possible, keep as much of your body in contact with the chair so that your whole body is supported. Knees should be lower than your hips. 
  • Try to keep stretching leg muscles to make sure unnecessary extra pressure is not put on the knees.
  • Elevate legs whenever possible to offset any weight pressure and reduce any swelling - ankle circles will also help. 

 

Neck and mid back pain is also common during pregnancy due to an increase in breast size;

 

  • Get measured for bras regularly throughout your pregnancy. This will help make sure you are wearing the right size and, therefore, getting the maximum support possible. 
  • Do neck and shoulder stretches regularly to relieve tension in the muscles.

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