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Backahe in Pregnancy

Because the weight gained in pregnancy (around 2 stone) is carried mainly at the front, your back is under increasing pressure as pregnancy advances.  In addition, the pregnancy hormones progesterone and relaxin have a softening effect on the ligaments of the body, including those in the back, making them more elastic in preparation for birth.  If you posture in poor your abdominal muscles weak, and you are careless about lifting and carrying, your back could be at risk.

It's worth paying attention to avoiding back trouble, partly because if a problem arises in pregnancy, it's more difficult to deal with just because of being pregnant.  Even after the birth, because of continuing hormonal influences, back problems can take time to resolve.  And your postirue while breastfeeding is important too.

Very often backache is causes the muscles around the spine to go into spasm actually contributing to the pain, in an attempt to protect itself.  This pain tends to make you stiffen up, again making the pain worse.

If you have a history of backache or problems before becoming pregnant, take extra care and actively choose to do some gentle exercise that will strengthen and protect your back, for example yoga or swimming, and follow some of these suggestions:

  • Try to keep your back straight, not just when walking but also when seated
  • when lifting, keep your back straight, bending at the knees and letting your legs take the strain
  • When carrying one or more items, try to distribute the weight evenly; use a small rucksack or carry your shoulder bag across your front rather than on one shoulder
  • Make sure your bed has a firm mattress, and take care getting in and out of bed, especially after you've been asleep and your muscles are relaxed.

The first steps in dealing with back pain include:

  • rest
  • applying heat to the affected area with a heat pad or hot water bottle
  • some gentle massage
  • some gentle exercise, paying particular attention to your posture
  • if the pain is severe enough to prevent you relaxing, taking paracetamol in the prescribed dose should help

If you experience a particularly bad episode of back pain or a recurrance of an old complaint, seek help straightaway.  Osteopathy, acupuncture and massage are all ways in which women have used to treat back pain in pregnancy. 

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