When pregnant, keep that back straight

  • By Team TDO

Many women suffer from back pain during pregnancy, and for some, the problem continues even after childbirth. This is not surprising because there are a number of physical reasons behind it:

Hormones: During pregnancy, hormones can soften ligaments causing more movement in the joints than usual, and in some cases, the ligaments get stretched or strained.

Growing uterus: The growing fetus in the uterus can cause changes in posture which results in lower back pain. As the entire area enlarges, the pressure on the spine and vertebra increases, which leads to pain.

Position of the fetus: In the later stages of development, as the fetus moves down, resulting in more pressure on the back, which causes pain.

Once it is determined which of these reasons is causing the pain, there are some steps that can be taken to lessen it or eliminate it altogether.

  1. The biggest factor is posture. Avoid slouching. Sit with a pillow or rolled up towel to cushion the lower back. This goes for lounge chairs as well as rigid chairs. Other strategies to keep a correct posture include keeping the shoulders back, chin upwards, and head centered over shoulders and using abdominal muscles to maintain a flat, not arched back. Knees should be lightly bent and avoid uncomfortable footwear such as high heels.
  2. To sit up from the lying down position, roll onto one side, then use the arms to push into an upright position. This should reduce the pain women experience some times when they sit after a long period of lying down.
  3. Abdominal muscles are important to prevent arching of the back, and the best way to strengthen them is through exercise. An experienced doctor or midwife will be able to tell you exercises specially designed for pregnant women. Walking for 20-30 minutes each day can also be very helpful.
  4. Rest is very important. When sleeping, lying on the side is advised with a pillow in between the knees. An extra pillow under the growing tummy will also take a lot of pressure off the spinal column.
  5. Bending down is best avoided, and if you do have to pick something up, do it with the legs bent at the knee and the back kept straight at all times. At no stage should you bend over with straight legs.
  6. Finally, domestic work should be kept to a minimum, especially tasks like vacuuming. An extension may be required to prevent the back from being bent and a good tip for hanging clothes is to place the basket on a table or chair, eliminating the need to constantly bend down. The load while carrying bags in your hands should be evenly balanced, i.e., one light bag in each hand. Seek assistance for anything heavier than that.

As you can see, there are a number of factors that contribute to back pain during pregnancy. By paying close attention to your physiology and keeping a straight back at all times, much of the pain can be alleviated or avoided.