Being pregnant means that you will have to contend with a a number of musculoskeletal problems during the course of your pregnancy. And it is only natural considering that body undergoes so many different changes that can places strain on muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and bones. Back pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints among pregnant women. It is not an uncommon condition even among women who are not pregnant and among men. However, the options for treating these problems is significiantly hampered in the light of the pregnancy.
You do not want to opt for drugs. Even prescription medication that is safe to use during pregnancy may still hold some risk that you would not want to take. Reducing the constant strain on the back is virtually impossible during pregnancy as the expanding abdominal girth and increasing weight is ongoing up until childbirth. However, there are several simple non-drug measures that can be helpful in reducing back pain during pregnancy. Most women will experience low back pain but upper back pain may also pose a problem for some.
Ice and Heat Therapy
Using ice packs and hot water bottles are more effective than you may think. Changes in temperature can have various effects. However, it is important to know when to use hot and cold applications. If you have just injured your lower back then you need cold therapy. Ice packs or even a little crushed ice wrapped in a cloth can be applied over the affected area. It is only needed for up to 48 hours following an injury. After this you can switch to heat therapy. A hot water bottle or heat pad should not be used immediately after an injury. It can worsen inflammation. But once icing the area is stopped, heat therapy can be very effective in easing pain and stiffness.
Change Your Mattress
If your mattress is not in the best shape, now is the time to change it. Most people spend 7 to 8 hours a day in bed, sometimes more. During pregnancy and even in the first few months after having your baby, you will be spending longer hours on the bed. A worn out mattress does not offer adequate support and can strain the back even further. Speak to a physical therapist or chiropractor about a suitable mattress that is within your budget. It is a small investment that can make a big difference in managing back pain during pregnancy.
Apart from the state of your mattress, the way you sleep can also be a problem. Try to sleep more on your side than your back, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. It can greatly ease low back. Do not use too many pillows unless you have to sit up when you are feeling nauseous or the heartburn is really worrying you. Once it eases, go back to the number of pillows you usually sleep with. Upper back pain and neck pain during pregnancy is often cause by sleeping awkwardly and using too many pillows.
Improve Your Posture
Your expanding belly actually shifts your center of gravity thereby increasing the strain on your lower back. The enlarging breasts add extra weight to the upper body which also strains the upper back. It is unavoidable but there is no need to worsen the situation with a bad posture. Try to consciously correct your posture as often as possible. If you are unsure what is the best posture for pregnancy, then speak to your doctor. You ideally want to maintain the normal curvatures of the spine as far as possible without straining other joints in the process.
Use the Right Shoes and Bra Size
If you stand or walk for long periods of time, then the right footwear can be helpful for lower back pain. Speak to a podiatrist and find the right type of shoes that do not strain the lower back. High heels are not advisable during pregnancy. Upper back pain is often associated with the increasing size of your breasts. A bra that is too tight can place strain on the upper back but a bra that is too loose can allow the breasts to hang which is equally problematic for the upper back. Change your bra accordingly and look into maternity bras. They may not always give you the look that you want but it is better than contending with pain.