Common Discomforts of Pregnancy/Part 1

Midwife discussing complaints with client

One of the most common complaints in pregnancy is back pain. It is very common and may be due to muscle strain from the weight and pull of the growing uterus and fetus. Other causes of backache that are much less common but should be considered as they may be indicative of a more serious problem are preterm labor, pyelonephritis, or renal calculi.

Some simple therapeutic measures that may seem minor but can have a profound effect on your symptoms are good body mechanics. When standing, have your knees slightly bent at the knees. This may take some getting use to as most people tend to exaggerate the knee bending at first. Also, have your pelvis tilted slightly forward and do not arch your back. This engages your core and helps with balance as well. You will find you have more strength in your arms since your core is engaged. When sitting, do not slouch but also do not arch your back and have your pelvis tilted slightly forward. A footstool to help with proper knee-hip position will help as well.

Sleeping on a firm mattress, bed board, and pillows for the extra support could make a huge difference. Wear low heeled and comfortable shoes. If you sit or stand this can compound the problem. Change your position as often as you can. Hopefully, your job will allow this and if they do not, ask for a note from your midwife or physician to allow position changes.

I am a huge fan of maternity belts. There are many on the market and some more elaborate than others. Even if you can only afford to purchase the basic velcro "under the belly" type, I highly recommend it. Not just for back pain but for round ligament discomfort and more than anything, optimal positioning of the fetus.

Exercises that are recommended are pelvic tilts, pelvic rock, and cat stretches. Basic stretching or yoga classes, as well as swimming are encouraged to relieve tension and may help relieve discomfort.

For acute back pain, local application of ice for 20 min followed by warm/hot packs, warm bath or shower, and massages with arnica and calendula. I believe most people know but need to mention, it is not recommended to take aspirin or NSAIDs during pregnancy.

Make sure you are getting plenty of calcium/magnesium in your diet. It is recommended that a pregnant woman have 1200mg. Calcium a day. Good sources are dairy, collard greens, mustard greens, and kale. Each serving equals about 250-300mg. If you are vegan or lactose intolerant, then the best supplement source is Calcium Citrate/Magnesium combination.

Last but certainly not least, seek out a chiropractor, acupuncturist, and massage therapist. Hopefully, with some or all of the above suggestions, you will be able to move beyond back pain and enjoy this special time with you new growing baby!