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Pregnancy-related Changes And Aches

First of all, congrats!

Pregnancy and parenthood is a very rewarding path of life, though it can be demanding and stressful at times =D

So, when/if you are pregnant, and you feel that your back and/or pelvis seems to be more painful or more ache-y than usual, it's a common situation with pregnant mums. In fact, studies have reported that

  • 6 in 10 pregnant women experience back pain
  • 1 in 5 pregnant women experience pelvic pain

...and as pregnancy progresses, the intensity of the aches and pains may increase and interfere with life, including sleep, work, daily life etc.

what are the Causes of pregnancy-related back and pelvic pains?

As pregnancy progresses, there will be an increased strain and load onto your back and pelvis, mainly due to 3 core changes:

  1. Shifting of your center of gravity

    As your tummy grows and the weight grows, naturally your center of gravity moves forward. This increases your spine curve forward, and stresses/stretches the spine joints, which in turn, tightens your spinal muscles and pulls some ligaments - hence increasing pains.

    The increase load also loads more on joints, meaning more load and stress for your back muscles, which tires and aches your back pain over time.

  2. Hormonal changes

    To prepare your body for delivery, a hormone called relaxin is produced...but this is a global (total body) effect, so it also causes joint laxity and some instability of pelvis. This may cause you to feel less stable and cause more aches and pains when you sit or stand or walk for longer periods.

  3. Abdominal muscle changes

    As your pregnancy progresses, your abdomen will also stretch, and a common pregnancy-related condition, diastasis recti, is the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles in the center of your stomach. This is turn decrease the function/ability of your ab muscles to support your back and spine.

some Common areas of back pain during pregnancy

Usually, pregnant mothers experience:

  • low back pain (lumbar aches and pains)

    Usually experienced in the lower back, nearer the waist. Prolonged sitting and/or standing aggravates the aches. The pain tends to increase as the day go by. Wearing improper footwear can aggravate the pain too.

  • posterior pelvic pain

    Posterior pelvic pain is usually experienced near the 2 dimples at the back of your pelvis (hip). Patients may experience the pain deep inside the buttocks or in the back of their thighs on one or both sides.

What can I do to prevent back pain?

Unfortunately, if you already have a history of back aches and back pain...you are more at risk/pre-disposed to get it again.

You also have an increased risk of back pain if:

  • you are not active / have a sedentary lifestyle
  • you have poor back and neck posture
  • you have an existing condition that may lead to back pain
  • you have weak back and/or stomach muscles
  • you have poor muscle and joint flexibility

If you already have back pain, let's try to prevent and reduce the frequency of your back pain episodes. First, start an exercise routine that focuses on strengthening your back and stomach muscles (of course, please check in with your doctor first before you start any exercise programs).

Next, try to incorporate good and healthy habits and postures in your daily life, be it at work or home - these "small" things do add up.

Examples are:

  • Standing.

    Try your level best to stand as normally upright as you can...it can get harder as time/pregnancy progresses, but stand upright with shoulders back and tummy tucked in. Pregnant mothers have tendency to arch their backs and rounded shoulders as their tummy grow.

  • Take regular micro-breaks.

    Take a short 1-2 minutes every 10-20 minutes of sustained activities to allow increased bloodflow and stretch, before returning to the task.

  • Sitting habits

    If you can, try to avoid sustained sitting and try to get up every 15-30 minutes or so to stretch and walk about. It'd be good to support your foot with a footstool that can help to offload back load. Using a back support will help too.

  • Consider Ergonomics

    Ergonomics is basically simplying the process to the person. In this case, it's to the pregnant mum. Simply put, "the Goldilock's approach"

    Ensure the work/task/activity/load is at a good height for you - not too high, not too low.

    Ensure the work/task/activity/load is at a good distance for you - not too far, not too near.
    Ensure your chair/table/bed is good height and size for you

    We have a section on office ergonomics here, which can/will expand more.

  • Lifting Techniques.

    Always remember to bend at your knees AND keep your back straight before lifting so you can activate and use your strong thigh muscles instead of the small muscles of the back. Do not twist as you lift. Always get help if you need a load to be lifted.

  • Sleeping Positions.

    We find that pregnant mums can rest better at night by sleeping on their side with one or both knees bent and a pillow between their legs. As your pregnancy advances, you can use a rolled up towel or small pillow to support your tummy. 

You know your body best, so as you are mindful of your own body, you will know which exercise/activity that may cause or aggravate your pain, so avoid those.

If in doubt, connect with us and we'd be more than happy to serve anytime.