It is estimated that almost 70% of women experience back pain during pregnancy. Pregnancy back pain typically affects the lower back as the weight of the baby puts tremendous strain on these muscles.
Doctors prefer not to recommend pain medication during pregnancy as it can have a negative impact on the baby’s health and development.
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6 Simple Ways to Reduce Back Pain During Pregnancy
You might not be able to completely eliminate your pregnancy back pain, but there are several simple- and natural- ways to reduce back pain during pregnancy.
1. Use a maternity support belt
A maternity belt is a supportive belt that helps to hold up your belly. This reduces the strain placed by your protruding belly on your lower back and pelvic girdle. Maternity belts are a pregnancy must-have as they help to distribute the weight of your baby across your back and abdomen. This helps to reduce the pressure on the round ligaments. Round ligament pain is one of the most common types of back pain during pregnancy.
Doctors advise pregnant women not to use support belts all the time because those muscles will stop working. Instead, you can use a maternity belt for short periods, particularly during physically taxing activities.
2. Sleep on your side with adequate support
During your first trimester, your baby is still very small and you can sleep in whatever position you like. However, once you reach your second trimester, you will not be able to sleep on your back as this will result in backache and pain.
It is believed that it is better to sleep on the left side to avoid putting pressure on the liver, which is located on the right. Place a firm pillow between your knees before you go to bed as this will help to keep your spine aligned and reduce the stress on your lower back.
If you find that a pillow does not provide adequate support, invest in a full-body pregnancy pillow that offers lumbar support and reduces back and body pain. If you need to travel during your third trimester, carry your body pillow to make sure you get your sleep.
3. Invest in comfortable shoes
As your baby gets bigger, your center of gravity changes which puts a lot of pressure on the muscles of your back. Wearing high heels during pregnancy forces your body to tilt forward which strains the muscles of your lower back. Improper shoes can even alter the alignment of your pelvis and result in deep, throbbing back pain.
Avoid shoes that have heels that are over two inches and make sure that the heel is flat and not pointy. Use a pair of good walking shoes or athletic shoes that have a low heel, good arch support and enough cushioning. If you suffer from edema during pregnancy, invest in comfortable shoes for pregnant women with swollen feet.
4. Alternate between ice and hot packs
At the start of the second trimester, your baby weighs just 1.5 ounces but by the time you reach the end of this trimester, your little one will weight almost 2 pounds. This puts excessive strain on the muscles of your back and often leads to pulled or sore back muscles.
Alternating between hot and cold packs is a simple way to reduce back pain during pregnancy. For the first three days, use an ice pack on the portion of your back that is sore as this will help to reduce swelling and pain. After this, you can switch to a hot pack to stimulate blood circulation to the area and improve the flexibility and function of the injured muscles.
Invest in a gel pack that is microwaveable and freezable in one so that you can use it to reduce breast pain during your first week of breastfeeding.
5. Squat when lifting objects
When you are pregnant, your body produces high levels of certain hormones including estrogen and relaxin. Relaxin relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis which makes them more vulnerable to stress. Lifting heavy objects while you are pregnant will place a great deal of stress on the muscles of your back and increase the risk of a muscle injury. This is why pregnant women are advised not to lift heavy objects, especially after the first trimester.
If you must lift a heavy object, bend at your knees so that you are in a squatting position as this will help you lift with your legs and not your back. If you have a C-section delivery, you will not be able to lift heavy objects as part of your C-section recovery care.
6. Sign up for prenatal exercise sessions
Daily exercise is one of the best ways to reduce back pain during pregnancy. You can sign up for a prenatal exercise session as these workouts help to provide you with the exercise you need without putting too much of a strain on your body.
Exercises such as the pelvic tilt, wall squat and leg raise will help to reduce back pain and increase core strength. It is never too early to plan your prenatal workouts and you can start researching the ones in your locality even before conceiving. Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you can use a due date calculator to help you create your prenatal exercise plan.