Sore breasts, swollen feet, and morning sickness can put a damper on any soon-to-be mama’s pregnancy, but if you ask us, there’s just about nothing worse than back pain — specifically, lower back pain.
Affecting an estimated 50 percent to 80 percent of pregnant women, an achy-breaky back is an extremely common pregnancy symptom. In other words, if you’re experiencing lower back pain as you prepare for your new family member, at least you’re in good company! Of course, this doesn’t make it feel any better, but not to worry — we’re here to help.
In this post, we’re exploring the wonderful world of pregnancy to uncover all there is to know about low back pain. So if you’re looking for natural remedies to soothe your aches and pains — keep reading.
What Should I Know About Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy?
Lower back pain is a pain — literally. And for those with a bun in the oven, it can be even worse. Between the nausea, fluctuating hormones, and restless legs, pain in the lower back is the icing on top of a debilitating pregnancy.
Although it can vary from person to person, symptoms may include:
- Stiffness — It might be difficult to move or straighten your back. You may find that getting up from a seated position takes a while, and you may feel like you constantly need to stretch or take a stroll to loosen up.
- Dull, aching pain — Tenderness that remains within the low back region (aka axial pain) is usually described as dull, sore, and aching. It may also be tender to the touch.
- Radiating pain — Sometimes, lower back pain includes a sharp, stinging, tingling, or numb sensation that isn’t localized but moves into the pelvic area, buttocks, and legs. It may mimic sciatica — pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, stretching from the lower back area through the hips and buttocks down the leg or foot.
This uncomfortable pregnancy symptom can be constant or made worse with activity. It might interfere with sleep and greatly affect a pregnant woman’s quality of life. Fortunately for most moms-to-be, symptoms will resolve after the birth of their little one.
What Are Some Causes of Back Pain During Pregnancy?
Pain in the lower back region usually starts in the second trimester, but it’s possible to experience this type of pain as early as the first trimester. In fact, having backache is sometimes an early sign of pregnancy — especially when cramps accompany it.
So, what causes lower back pain and back problems during pregnancy? Here are some of the most likely culprits:
1. Weight Gain
Your back must support the growing weight of your baby, which can quickly strain the muscles. Add poor posture into the mix, and backache is essentially inevitable.
2. Postural Changes
As your baby bump gets bigger, your center of gravity creeps forward. This can lead to changes in your posture, affecting how you stand, sit, move, and sleep. Poor posture, prolonged standing, and bending over can exacerbate lower back pain.
3. Muscle Separation
Your abdomen consists of two parallel bands of muscle that connect in the middle of your belly. These muscles are key players in keeping the spine stabilized.
During pregnancy, the developing fetus pushes against these all-important abdominal muscles, which can cause them to stretch and sometimes separate. This pressure can result in a condition called diastasis recti.
With this condition, pregnant women may develop a bulge or “pooch” in their tummy — a surefire sign that the abdominal muscles are stretching and separating. This can weaken the abdominal muscles, leading to lower back pain and posterior pelvic pain, especially in the third trimester.
Stress can greatly contribute to back pain. Why? Because stress tends to accumulate in weak areas of the body — and thanks to the changes in the pelvis area, it’s not uncommon to experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of your pregnancy. In addition to backache, stress can also cause fatigue and headaches.
5. Hormonal Changes
During pregnancy, the body releases hormones — such as relaxin — that help joints and ligaments in the pelvis to loosen and soften. This is super important for delivering your small bundle, but these essential hormones don’t just work in your pelvis. They move throughout the entire body, affecting all joints, which can manifest into aches and pains everywhere — including the lower and upper back.
Are There Any Tips To Safely Remedy Lower Back Pain?
As a matter of fact, we have quite a few! Here are some awesome natural remedies that you can try to ease your aches and pains:
Tip #1: Backrub
Prenatal massage is an oh-so relaxing way to soothe an achy-breaky back. Chiropractors can also treat back pain in pregnant women.
Note: Look for a chiropractic massage therapist, regular chiropractor, or even a physical therapist with extensive experience treating pregnant patients. These specialists have the know-how to treat you safely and comfortably.
Tip #2: Exercise
Regular exercise helps strengthen the muscles and boost flexibility, which can ease the stress on your spine and ease back pain. You shouldn’t engage in strenuous exercise or train for a 5K when pregnant, but swimming, walking, and cycling are generally considered safe exercises during pregnancy. Opt for shoes with good arch support while taking a walk, and make sure to consult your doctor to confirm whether further physical activity will be safe for you.
Pro Tip: If your feet are sore after strolling around the park, we recommend 8 Sheep Organics’ Peppermint Foot & Leg Rub. Infused with organic peppermint and matcha green tea, this wonderful cooling rub was specially formulated to help with tired, aching, and swollen legs and feet during pregnancy.
Tip #3: Heat and Cold
Switching from heat and cold to your lower back may help reduce pregnancy back pain and stiffness. Use a cold compress on your tender back muscles for up to 20 minutes a few times a day. Alternate with a heating pad, but check with a healthcare professional first to ensure this method is safe during your pregnancy.
Pro Tip: Don’t have a heating pad? Try taking a warm (not hot!) bath. For an extra indulgent experience, we recommend tossing in a few sprinkles of 8 Sheep Organics’ Therapeutic Bath Salts into your bath water. Made with a soothing blend of Epsom salts and plant-based essential oils, these bath salts can work magic in easing muscle aches, pains, and tension.
Tip #4: Acupuncture
If you’re experiencing backache or pelvic girdle pain, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says acupuncture is another treatment option to safely find relief. In fact, some studies have demonstrated this healing technique to be far superior to physical therapy.
A form of Chinese medicine similar to reflexology, acupuncture consists of itty-bitty needles inserted into the skin at strategic locations to stimulate the central nervous system to relieve pain.
In addition to relieving tension in the lower pack, acupuncture may provide pain relief from headaches, sciatica, fibromyalgia, and musculoskeletal pain. It is always recommended to confirm with your doctor whether acupuncture or other remedies are safe for you during pregnancy.
Tip #5: Magnesium
While more studies can always be done, there’s quite a bit of research and evidence-based results that mineral magnesium is an effective way to soothe pregnancy-related aches and pains. That’s why we highly recommend 8 Sheep Organics Sleepy Body Lotion.
This luscious lotion is 100 percent organic and formulated specifically to ease pain and combat pregnancy insomnia. Simply apply two to three teaspoons onto sore areas and enjoy a restful slumber — pain-free.
A Final Word
Although aches and pains are quite common during pregnancy, severe back pain that lasts more than two weeks is not. In rare cases, severe pain in the lower back may also be related to problems like preterm labor or infection. So if you’re experiencing really severe back pain that doesn’t go away after a few weeks, it’s important to get checked out by your doctor right away.