Current research indicates that up to 70% of women will experience low back pain during pregnancy. It’s no surprise given the amount of mechanical change that a woman’s body undergoes when growing her baby. The more important question is what can we do about it?
Prevention is always a great option. The fitter, healthier and more mobile a woman is before and during pregnancy, the less likely she is to experience low back pain. Remember that for most women, moderate exercise during pregnancy is recommended. Pre-natal yoga or Pre-natal pilates are great options for most women. If you’re uncertain about what type and intensity of exercise is right for you, have a chat to your healthcare team; be it your GP, obstetrician, midwife or a women’s health osteo or physio.
Low back pain is also more likely to occur in pregnant women with pre-existing injuries. Resolving strains and sprains prior to, or in the early stages of pregnancy can reduce the risk of low back pain in the third trimester when the body is put under the most strain. Osteopaths are great at looking at the body holistically and gently correcting any biomechanical changes that could cause pain down the track.
If you’ve already hit the 30 week mark and are just starting to experience low back pain, there are still plenty of things that can help. Some women enjoy a pregnancy massage to relieve general tension. In more severe cases, osteopaths can address the biomechanical compensations that arise during pregnancy. These might include increases in spinal curvature, widening of the hips and ribs cage, increased pressure on the pubic bone and tailbone, and compression of the diaphragm. Osteopathic treatment can be incredibly gentle which makes it ideal for pregnant women. The aim of osteopathic treatment is to help a woman’s body to adapt and be dynamically balanced throughout pregnancy to minimise pain and discomfort.
Home based exercises can help you manage your pain throughout the day and between therapy consults. Exercise routines are usually a combination of gentle stretching, light strengthening and mobility exercises. The aim is to improve mobility through the pelvis and trunk, reduce muscle tension that is contributing to pain and improve strength in preparation for labour, and lifting your precious bundle of joy. Your osteopath can tailor a program that is safe and specific to your level of fitness and your needs.
The bottom line is, don’t presume that low back pain is an unavoidable part of pregnancy. There are lots of different approaches to preventing it and managing it.
To find out what the best option is for you, just ask.