9 Things No One Tells You About Your Back During Pregnancy, But I Will
It’s common knowledge that being pregnant can be an uncomfortable experience, especially in the third trimester. I didn't expect to have so much back pain, though. I tried everything to get some relief, including physical therapy, massage, and a belly support band. To make matters worse, my upper back hurt too, due to my ever-growing boobs. There are so many things that no one will tell you about your back during pregnancy, except me. And you deserve to be prepared. Trust me.
First off, if you have pregnancy back pain you might feel better knowing that you aren't alone. Back pain is a common complaint during pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your changing hormones, changing body, and growing baby can literally be a pain in your butt, your entire spine, and in your upper back and shoulders. You might find some relief from pregnancy back pain by improving your posture, engaging in a few exercises to strengthen your core, and trading high heels for flats until your baby is born. Unfortunately, according to Parents.com, sleeping on your back is off limits during the last two trimesters of pregnancy. Mayo Clinic suggests side sleeping and using pregnancy pillows to support your back and belly in late pregnancy. If your back pain persists longer than two weeks, though, the Mayo Clinic suggests talking to your doctor to rule out a serious health condition and to recommend a treatment plan.
With any luck, you'll be feeling better in no time. And if not, at least you know your baby will be here in a few months and will take the pressure off your back (and shoulders). Until then, though, there's a few things you should know about growing human beings and how your back will feel during the process:
It Will Probably Hurt
It's estimated that as many as 80% of pregnant people will experience some degree of back pain during pregnancy, according to SPINE-health. It's not that surprising, either. Pregnancy causes your uterus to grow and expand, puts pressure on your nerves and spine, and causes weight gain, primarily on the front of your body. At the same time pregnancy hormones loosen your joints, which can make your spine feel (and actually be) less stable.
It Might Get Worse
As your belly expands, your back pain might get worse. While you might have back pain in early pregnancy, according to BabyCenter, for most pregnant people it starts during the second trimester, gets worse during late pregnancy, and might even continue for a few months after your baby is born. Yikes.
Your Posture Might Change
Pregnancy hormones, a strain on your back muscles, and abdominal muscle weakness can actually change your posture, shift your center of gravity, and make your body hunch forward, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The end result of all that shifting and changing? Pain. So. Much. Pain.
You Can't Sleep On It
While many people sleep on their backs to ease back pain, according to Mayo Clinic this is not a good idea during pregnancy. Instead, the clinic suggests sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs, under your growing belly, and/or behind your back.
Your Boobs Might Weigh You Down
Athletico Physical Therapy suggests that if your pregnancy back pain is located in your mid- or upper-back, a poor-fitting bra might be the culprit. Pregnancy is definitely time to invest in a new bra so you can stay comfortable as your breasts and rib cage grow and get heavier, according to BabyCenter, which can put strain on your back.
Back Pain Might Be A Sign Of Stress
Back pain can actually be caused by stress, Kavita Trivedi, an associate professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UT Southwestern Medical Center, writes for the Center's website. "When you're stressed, your breathing patterns change and cause strain and tension in the mid-back. Your shoulders hunch up and cause pain through the upper and middle back."
Because people typically feel the impact of stress in the weaker parts of their body, as stress increases during your pregnancy your back pain might increase, too.
There Are Things You Might Try For Relief
If your back pain is caused by the extra weight of your growing baby pressing against your pelvis or nerves, BabyCenter suggests trying a maternity support band to take the weight off. Literally.
Getting daily exercise might help to strengthen your core. Gentle stretches for your lower back can also, potentially, relieve pain. According to certified yoga teacher April Kirkhart, M.S.W., the cat/cow flow is great for your spine, hips, and shoulders during pregnancy. To start, kneel on your hands and knees with your hands shoulder-distance apart, your knees hip-distance apart, and your back straight. For cow pose, inhale and let your belly drop, arching your back but keeping your shoulders rolled down and back with your gaze forward. For cat pose, as you exhale, round your back to the sky, then tuck your chin to your chest and your tail bone slightly. Repeat following your own breath, as many times as you like.
You Might Need Professional Help
While back pain can be a normal part of pregnancy and you may be able to treat it at home with exercise, ice, heat, or a support band, if you still have pain after two weeks, it's time to consult a health care professional for advice, a referral for physical therapy, or to rule out a health condition — like a urinary tract infection — that may manifest as back pain.
You Might Actually Be Labor
If your back pain is accompanied by vaginal bleeding or comes on suddenly, and you are in your second or third trimester, you should contact your OB or midwife immediately, ccording to BabyCenter. Back pain in late pregnancy might actually be a sign of preterm labor, which requires medical attention.