Due to a growing belly and hormonal changes during pregnancy, more than 60 percent of pregnant women experience lower back pain.
Chiropractic care for lower back pain during pregnancy can be very gentle.
It is important to consult with a chiropractor that specializes in pregnancy to understand the exact nature of YOUR back pain and to get treated by a specialist. Numerous studies show that back pain can be reduced by manual therapies. In a study of 170 Canadian women, those who received chiropractic care reported less pain both during pregnancy and during labour.
A chiropractor can provide safe, effective, and drug-free care to relieve pain by improving mobility and restoring function.
Let’s look at some of the causes.
Your growing uterus is expanding. This causes a shift of your center of gravity, which will impact your posture and may add strain on your lower back. This change in posture impacts your biomechanics, which could cause stress on the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the lower back and pelvis.
Hormonal changes in pregnancy relax the ligaments throughout the body, including ligaments of the pelvis and spine. This can cause pain or discomfort when you walk, stand, sit for long periods, roll over in bed, get out of a low chair or lift things.
Types of Lower Back Pain
Posterior pelvic pain is felt in the back of your pelvis. It’s the most common type of lower back pain during pregnancy, though some women have lumbar pain as well
Lumbar pain occurs in the area of the lumbar vertebrae in your lower back, higher on your body than posterior pelvic pain. It probably feels similar to the lower back pain you may have experienced before you were pregnant. You feel it over and around your spine approximately at waist level. You also might have pain that radiates to your legs. Sitting or standing for long periods of time and lifting usually make it worse, and it tends to be more intense at the end of the day.
When lower back pain goes into the buttocks and thighs, it’s often confused with sciatica, a relatively uncommon condition. If you have sciatica, your leg pain will usually be more severe than your back pain. You’re likely to feel it below the knee as well, and it may even radiate to your foot and toes like a tingling, pins-and-needles sensation in your legs or some numbness.
What you can do at home to help minimize back pain
While it’s important to check in with a prenatal chiropractor in pregnancy, it’s important to know there are a lot of things you can do at home to prevent or manage low back pain in pregnancy.
When your back hurts, you may feel more like curling up in bed but it is not helpful for lower back pain and may even make you feel worse. Exercise may actually be just what you need.
Check with your provider before beginning an exercise program because you may have to limit your activity. Here are a few options to consider:
- Stretching exercises increase flexibility in the muscles that support your back and legs. Stretch gently to not put further strain on your joints, which become looser in pregnancy. One I highly recommend is Psoas.
- Prenatal yoga will address strength, balance, and flexibility.
- Swimming is another great exercise for pregnant women because it strengthens your abdominal and lower back muscles, and can be very relaxing
- Walking is another low-impact option to consider. It’s also easy to make it a part of your daily routine.
Always listen to your body, and don’t do anything that hurts. Finally, watch for signs you may be overdoing things or developing a problem that needs medical attention.
I think that every birth parent would benefit from pelvic floor physiotherapy in preparation for birth, and particularly for recovery after. Massage therapy may also be of benefit. Your prenatal chiropractor can help build out your birth care team.
If you are looking for a little help we recommend BirthFit training for birth and rehabilitating after giving birth. If you prefer to work with a local personal trainer, ensure they have certification in pregnancy/postpartum.
Dr Natasha Hayden is a pediatric and prenatal chiropractor that is passionate about helping her community discover just how good their bodies are designed to feel, so they can do more of what they love.
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