Back Pain in Pregnancy? 3 Reasons Why it Occurs
First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy! Pregnancy is a wonderful thing, however the experience may not always be a bed of roses. The pregnancy journey can take a toll on the body and cause discomfort to occur. During the pregnancy journey, certain discomforts such as morning sickness, poor bladder control and back pain may occur.
Some of these physical ailments are part and parcel of pregnancy and cannot be resolved. However, it is important to note that many of these physical discomforts related to muscles, joints and bones can be resolved to ensure that your pregnancy journey is as comfortable as possible.
In this series of articles on back pain during pregnancy, we explore more on back pain during pregnancy, why it occurs and what you can do about it.
Back pain – more common than you think
Back pain is reported to be the leading cause of disability all over the world, with 80% of adults having experienced back pain at least once in their lives plaguing a large majority of adults all over the world – including pregnant women.
Are you experiencing low back pain in pregnancy? You are not alone – over 50% of women have reported to experience low back pain during their pregnancy. Back pain can take a toll on your physical activity and mental health – living in constant pain and discomfort can potentially lead to anxiety and depression.
Why does back pain and pregnancy seem to come hand in hand? Here, we explore the reasons why pregnant women tend to experience back pain and how the pain can be managed even during pregnancy.
3 Reasons Why You Have Back Pain in Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body goes through major changes – both physically and hormonally. As your body changes through the course of your pregnancy, back pain occurs as your back is not used to these physical and hormonal changes. There are various reasons as to why back pain occurs – it could also be because of medical reasons but today, we will cover the 3 main reasons why pregnant ladies are prone to back pain as a result of their pregnancy changes.
1) Increased Weight of Baby Bump
During the duration of your pregnancy, weight gain is to be expected – some women gain up to 20kg during their pregnancy. As your baby grows, your baby bump gets heavier causing the weight on the front of your body to increase significantly. Your physical structures such as the spine will have to work harder to support this extra front loading weight gain. Increased pressure and stress is placed on the spine, causing pain as the spine is not used to supporting this extra weight.
Akin to holding a 1kg weight, it may not feel heavy if you hold it for a short while – but if you were to hold it for 1 hour or even 24 hours, it would start to feel like the heaviest weight in the world due to the strain it places on your muscles. Likewise, over the course of your pregnancy, your body is strained having to carry this extra weight gain around during the 9 months of your pregnancy.
You will be unable to use your abdominal muscles as they will be stretched over the course of your pregnancy, causing you to be unable to use them which in turns, weakens them. With weaker abdominal muscles, it means that your back muscles are doing most of the heavy lifting in maintaining your body in a upright position. As it becomes harder and harder for your back and spine to support your growing body weight, it is inevitable that the back will start to become strained, causing in aches and discomfort.
2) Pregnancy Hormone Changes
Most people associate hormonal changes with mood swings and skin condition – however, the hormonal changes of pregnancy include far more than just that. Hormonal changes can impact the effects of physical activity on your body as well. his may make physical activity more difficult for you. Doing simple things such as climbing up stairs can feel a lot more difficult when you are expecting and you may also experience taking a longer time to recover. As such, your back pain may also be amplified as it will be harder for you to move around when you are pregnant and you may experience pain in a increased magnitude as compared to before.
The body is an amazing anatomy that can adapt to your needs. As your body prepares itself for childbirth, your body will naturally adapt itself for the process. Pregnancy hormones will cause your joints and ligaments to be looser in order to accommodate your growing baby. Your spine is made up of 33 individual bones stacked up on one another, providing you with the ability to hold yourself upright. The spine’s flexibility comes from various joints, ligaments and tendons to help you to bend over and twist your body. As your joints loosen, it will become increasingly harder for your spine to support your growing weight.
The other loosened joints in your body such as your knees and ankles can make it increasingly difficult for you to move around as much as before
3) Postural and movement changes
As your body goes through physical changes, it will naturally alter your body posture. Due to the convex nature of your belly, the curvature of your spine will increase as well. Most pregnant women start adopting a swayback posture which is a posture whereby your lower back and pelvis are drawn forward, and your upper back is backwards. Much like an S -shape if you invert it. A swayback posture is extremely common among pregnant ladies because the weight of your belly naturally draws your pelvis forwards. This increases the risk of back pain in pregnancy.
Apart from postural changes, your movement patterns will also have to adapt to these physical changes. For instance, your walking patterns will change with the increased weight. Due to the increased weight load, changed walking patterns due to adapting to the weight. This will cause discomfort as these movement patterns are not optimal.
What can I do about my Back Pain in Pregnancy?
Here’s the good news – you don’t have to live with back pain. There are ways to minimise the discomfort to ensure your pregnancy journey is as pain-free as possible. Check in with your Gynaecologist before seeking treatment. Seeking their professional medical input before embarking on alternative treatment methods is important. In the next article in the Back Pain in Pregnancy series, we dive deeper into methods to reduce and treat back pain in pregnancy. You can read the article on Managing Back Pain in Pregnancy here.
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