You are anxiously awaiting the pitter patter of tiny feet, but you are having a hard time preparing the nest because of back pain. You are most definitely not alone. Weight gain during pregnancy places stress on the back, feet, ankles, and knees. As the baby grows, the abdominal muscles become stretched, and their tone and strength is reduced. Pregnancy weight also causes your centre of gravity to shift forward. As a result, there is an increase in the pressure on the discs and joints of the lower back and pelvis, which now work overtime to keep you upright and balanced.
Starting with adequate rest will help restore your energy, and give your back a chance to relax. You may try lying on your left side as it has been shown to reduce the weight of the uterus on large vessels in your abdomen, allowing for optimal blood flow to both mother and baby. Supporting your weight by placing a pillow between the knees or leaning against a body pillow will take pressure off your lower back and allow your spine to be in its natural position while you sleep.
In addition to making your place of sleep a comfortable one, I’d like to share a stretch that you can do daily to help alleviate low back, hip and leg pain.
There are two versions of this stretch. The first is done seated and is better earlier in pregnancy. The second is done lying on your back and is better later in pregnancy. For the second stretch, you will need a partner to assist. If you have knee problems or severely reduced hip range of motion, you may not be able to do this stretch.
Start while sitting upright in a chair. Cross one foot over the opposite knee. Slowly lean forward with the chest while maintaining the proper forward curve in the low back. Do not round the back. You should feel this stretch in the outside part of the leg and gluteal region.
Stretch number 2 should be done if you are unable to do the seated version due to a growing belly. You will need a partner to assist with this stretch. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent. Use pillows to prop up your upper back. Then cross one foot over the opposite knee. Your partner should ensure that the line between your knee and foot are perpendicular to your body throughout the stretch. Then have your partner hold your leg at the knee and the foot. Your partner should slowly then push your leg toward your head until you feel the stretch in the outside part of the leg and gluteal region. Always keep the communication between your partner and yourself clear as to how far to push. Neither of these stretches should cause any pain. If you do experience pain, either back off the stretch or discontinue the stretch altogether.
Don’t let pain hold you back during this exciting time in your life. A chiropractor can provide safe, effective, and drug-free manual care to relieve pain by decreasing the pressure on joints, muscles, and nerves of the spine and pelvis. Chiropractors are trained to provide treatment and up to date information tailored to meet the specific needs of a women during all stages of pregnancy. Take care and listen to your body. It is easy to say that it will go away or that you can deal with it. There are however better and healthier ways to enjoy your pregnancy and birth of your child.
Written by Dr. Sarah Chajka, HBKin, DC, Webster Certified