Coping with back pain in pregnancy

We all want to be one of those women for whom pregnancy brings a beautiful glow. But what about the not-so-perfect parts of pregnancy? This week we're talking about the difficulties of pregnancy and how you can make sure those precious few months are as exciting and rewarding as possible. Here massage therapist Dawn Symonds shares her advice for coping with back pain in pregnancy.

Back pain in pregnancy can affect 50 – 75% of all pregnant women. So many issues can contribute to back pain including weight gain, lifestyle, posture, pre-pregnancy fitness and even the fact that your developing bump changes your centre of gravity.

The great news however, is that there is lots you can do to relieve the discomfort and to prevent the back pain from becoming a long-term issue.

  • Don’t ignore pain - it hurts for a reason! Stop doing what is causing the pain and avoid doing it (if possible). During my second pregnancy I spent 12 weeks in agony due to a slipped disc, so found the weekly shop particularly taxing….. the lifting, carrying, pushing not only at the supermarket, but on return home! To cope, I did smaller more frequent shops or went with friends, but it is now so much easier to go online, shop from home and let someone else do the work!
  • Work on your posture. When you are walking you should arch your back and swing your arms. This posture locks your pelvis in a stable position and activates the muscles that stiffen your joints.
  • When lying in bed prop yourself up with pillows. If on your back have a pillow under your knees. This tilts the pelvis and allows the lower back to gain maximum support from the bed. If on your side place a pillow between your knee. This reduces the ‘twist’ of the pelvis and spine.
  • When lying in bed prop yourself up with pillows. If on your back have a pillow under your knees. This tilts the pelvis and allows the lower back to gain maximum support from the bed. If on your side place a pillow between your knee. This reduces the ‘twist’ of the pelvis and spine.
  • If you find turning over in bed very painful, try sitting up directly from lying on your back, after pulling up your knees as far towards your chest as your bump will allow. This moves your pelvis from an unstable to a locked position. Tighten your pelvic floor and lower tummy muscles before moving.
  • Avoid lying on your back or sitting slumped, particularly with your legs straight (i.e. on the sofa) without support. Place a rolled towel or cushion under your back, at waist level to support your back and place another rolled support under your bent knees.
  • Rest preferably by sitting on a large birthing ball, but do not stop moving altogether. Back pain is worsened by lack of mobility, therefore, move little and often.

Dawn is a massage therapist working in London and Cornwall who offers Maga Pregnancy Therapy designed to help with pregnancy back or pelvic pain.

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