Checking Posture during Pregnancy: tips for back safety and comfort

Checking Posture during Pregnancy: tips for back safety and comfort

Your center of gravity may shift forward as your uterus and breasts get bigger. This can cause a sway or arch in your lower back, and this way can cause your shoulders to slump forward. Poor posture can cause discomfort in your back, shoulders, and hips.

Pregnancy Back Pain

Is it normal to have back pain during pregnancy? Yes, absolutely. In fact, those lucky few who do not experience back pain at some point during their pregnancy are actually in the minority.

The American Pregnancy Association (APA) estimates that between 50% and 70% of women experience back pain in pregnancy.

Lower back pain may even be an early sign of pregnancy. It’s very possible that you may just be just five or six weeks pregnant and wondering what’s causing your lower back pain.

When Does Pregnancy Back Pain Set In?

Pregnancy back pain may show up early—as soon as the first trimester. At this point, your figure is unlikely to have changed all that much.

But major hormonal changes that make your soft tissues laxer are well underway. Thus, hormone changes are often to blame if you are just 4, 5, or 6 weeks pregnant and dealing with lower back pain.

While lower back pain in early pregnancy can and certainly does occur, that is not the most common time for discomfort to set in. Back pain is most common (and most severe) during the third trimester when your baby is the largest.

The most common time for back pain to rear its ugly head is around the 18-week mark—roughly the midpoint of your pregnancy. This discomfort typically lingers or intensifies through the remaining 22 weeks.

This does not, however, mean you should simply strap in for five months of misery. There are things you can do to limit or even cure this pregnancy “symptom,” many of which can be done from the comfort of your home. More on that shortly…

Common Causes of Back Pain During Pregnancy

Generally speaking, APA says the following are to blame for back pain while pregnant:
  • An increase in hormones makes your ligaments more flexible, reducing the stability of the pelvis and back. Over-mobility of these areas is often to blame for lower back pain during early pregnancy.
  • Increasing your body weight by 25% to 30% in a short amount of time is a lot for the body to handle. This can lead to sore muscles, ligaments, etc.
  • The added weight also shifts your center of gravity forward, stressing the tissues of the back.
  • Many also change their posture to support the belly, leading to strain and pain in the upper and/or lower back. The pregnant lady waddle adds insult to injury. 
  • For some, simply being pregnant is stressful, plus those midnight trips to the bathroom interrupt sleep. This also takes a toll on the body.
A preexisting history of back pain associated with structural issues like scoliosis or injury can make a woman more prone to back pain when she is pregnant, as can carrying multiples.

Thankfully, back pain goes away quickly post-pregnancy for most women.

Check your posture during pregnancy throughout the day by:

  • pulling in your abdominal muscles – think “belly button to the backbone”
  • pulling your shoulders back and straightening your spine
  • standing up straight and walking tall

Caring for Your Back during Pregnancy

Back pain is common later in pregnancy. Follow these tips for back safety and comfort:
  • keep good posture
  • don’t lift heavy objects
  • lift with your legs and not your back by bending your knees
  • hold the object you are lifting close to your body
  • do not twist when lifting
  • keep your knees slightly bent but not locked when standing
  • “log roll” when getting up from a lying position (turn onto your side and push up with both arms)
  • rest and sleep on your side and put a pillow between your knees to support the upper leg
  • avoid moving large objects
  • If standing for long periods of time, put one foot on a stool
  • wear comfortable, supportive shoes
Back pain is common later in pregnancy. Follow these tips for back safety and comfort:

Strengthening Your Back (Pelvic Tilt)

Strengthen your back with the following pelvic tilt activity:
  • Kneel on your hands and knees with elbows slightly bent.
  • Keep your back flat. Do not let your back sag downwards.
  • Keep your head and neck in line with your spine.
  • Arch your lower back and at the same time tighten your abdominal muscles and buttocks.
  • Slowly relax and return your back to the flat position.
  • Repeat up to a maximum of 5 to 8 times.

Caring for your Abdominal Muscles

Abdominal muscles take most of the pressure of the growing baby during pregnancy. These muscles run up and down from your chest to your pubic bone. 
Abdominal muscles take most of the pressure of the growing baby during pregnancy. These muscles run up and down from your chest to your pubic bone.
It is common for these muscles to soften, weaken, and separate, like a zipper opening under stress. If you notice bulging along the middle of your abdomen when you get out of the bath or bed, you could have a separation in your abdominal muscles.
You can lessen strain to these muscles by:
  • getting out of bed by turning onto your side and pushing up with both arms
  • avoiding activities where you curl up
  • not holding your breath when you lift and carry something 

Until the gap is closed you should not do sit-ups and activities that rotate the trunk, twist the hips, or bend the trunk to one side.

Strengthening Your Pelvis (Kegel Exercises)

Kegel exercises help to strengthen the vaginal and perineal area – the area between the vagina and anus. These muscles support the weight of your growing baby, and they also help you control passing urine and stool. Doing Kegel exercises during pregnancy and after the birth will help you strengthen these muscles, which will prevent you from leaking urine when coughing or laughing. Kegel exercises can be done anywhere.
Here’s how:
  • Tighten the muscles around your vagina and anus, as if you were stopping the flow of urine. Do not do Kegel exercises by actually stopping your flow of urine when on the toilet. This can cause some urine to stay in your bladder.
  • Hold the muscles tight for a count of 5 and work up to a count of 10. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
  • Do this exercise often throughout the day.
  • Do not hold your breath while tightening your muscles.
  • To prevent leaking urine, try tightening your pelvic floor muscles before you cough, sneeze, or lift.
Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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