Lower-Back Pain During Pregnancy

Lower-back pain is common during pregnancy. Get some tips on how to ease the discomfort.

Imagine trying to carry a very heavy backpack (say 20 pounds) on the front of your body. You would probably change your posture to balance the load. You would plant your feet further apart, tilt your hips forward, and arch your back with your belly pushed forward. Well, even though your baby isn't quite 20 pounds, you still might change your posture to carry the extra weight up front. This change strains the back muscles and causes backache. As your pregnancy progresses, the ache might worsen because, not only is the weight getting heavier, but also near the end of pregnancy the baby's head might be in a position that pushes against the lower spine. To prevent backache and reduce back pain, give these strategies a try:

  • Stand correctly. Imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head that some invisible puppeteer is pulling upward. Then stand with your feet apart (about even with your hips). Don't lock your knees; bend them slightly. Imagine your baby is sitting toward your spine (no need to push the baby out front).
  • Sit correctly. Sitting (especially for long periods) puts a lot of stress on your spine. When you sit, sit up tall, don't slouch. Keep your feet elevated if possible. Don't cross your knees. Stay away from extra-soft and backless chairs. Put a pillow between you and the back of the chair. Don't sit too long; after a half-hour, get up, walk, and stretch for a few minutes.
  • Forget your spiked heels. Even under normal circumstances, high heels are bad for the back. For pregnant women they're disastrous. Wide two-inch heels are okay, and you might find them even better than flats for keeping your posture straight.
  • Avoid standing still for too long. If you must stand still, try to keep a small step stool near by so that you can keep one foot elevated. This helps relieve some of the pressure on your spine.
  • Watch your weight. Gaining more than necessary will strain your back.
  • Sleep on a firm mattress. If yours is very soft, put a board underneath it to give you more support.
  • Exercise your back muscles.

As your body gets ready for childbirth you might feel a persistent dull backache (along with cramps sometimes). If this happens, call your doctor (even if you don't think you're ready to deliver).

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