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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

How to reduce back pain during and after pregnancy

Back pain after delivery affects up to 50% of women and is a very often overlooked problem. A woman's quality of life can be substantially affected especially during this very stressful period. Prevention is of course better than cure. Awareness that back pain will plague a great many women during and after pregnancy is the first and foremost important step. Why do pregnant women get back pain. Firstly, the hormonal changes in pregnancy affect the mobility of the joints of the spine. As a result the muscles that normally support the spine are in constant use and in overdrive what with the extra weight of the progressing pregnancy. During the labour, there is the added insult to the spinal muscles of the straining and awkward positioning that accompanies the delivery. And after delivery, the lack of sleep and extra work to the back muscles of having to carry the baby in and out of the cot.
Taking pain killers is not the answer and can be dangerous for the babies health when breastfeeding.

How then can one reduce back pain. The following are some suggestions:

1. As mentioned earlier, being aware and conscious of ones back throughout the pregnancy. Making sure that when standing, the centre of gravity is pushed slightly behind. So if one were to draw a straight line it would fall somewhere behind your heel. Of course, avoid using anything with heels! as this will add even more strain to your back. Always keep a straight posture and avoid slouching.
If you have a weak back you may benefit from a a pregnancy support belt.

2. Bend your knees first before lifting anything from the floor, and avoid bending forward to reach for objects at a distance.

3. When sleeping, bend your knees in a flexed position and rest the knees with a bolster behind. Your mattress should be moderately hard and definitely not sagging!. Adjust your pillows and position so that you are comfortable. You may take sometime to find the best position but it is well worthwhile so as to get the best sleep. Lack of sleep and anxiety will aggravate backache.

4. Do some light flexibility excercises as stiffness will always lead to back pain. Try to do some core muscle excercises as well, so that they are strengthened as the pregnancy progresses. The main ones would be the lower abdominals and back muscles. Remember to stretch before and after excercising!.

5. Do go for relaxing back and neck massages as often as you can during and after the pregnancy.

6. If you are to have to sit for long hours, it is best to get hold of a back support for your chair. It is also a good idea to get up and stretch, walk every 20 minutes or so.

7. Labour and delivery can cause a great deal of harm to the spine as the baby goes through your pelvis. It is a known fact that the baby's head may even cause a fracture of the tip of your spine (the coccyx) on it's way out!. Your pelvic bone joints which have been loosened in preparation for the labour will undergo a great deal of stretching and soreness. This will resolve after delivery and should not be too much of a concern. During the labour and delivery one should avoid harsh and sudden movements during labour pains. Having a good pain relief such as an epidural will go a long way to avoiding any such strain on the back. It is of course a fallacy that epidurals will cause back pain.

8. After the delivery, any back pain can be relieved by spinal manipulation. This is best done by an osteopath and  should be instituted as early as possible to avoid future chronic back pain.

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