As if there wasn’t enough to worry about during pregnancy, introducing back pain into the equation feels like adding insult to injury. If you’re a mom searching for quality information, solutions and would love to avoid wasting time sifting through miracle cures and magic bullets, these guidelines will give you everything you need to know about low back pain during pregnancy.
What does the data tell us about low back pain during pregnancy?
- Prevalence ranges from 57% to 69%
- Back pain starts early in pregnancy and increases over time
- The 30% of women with the highest pain score reported the greatest difficulties with normal activities
- 9% of women were unable to continue their work because of severe low back pain
- 68% of women with moderate or worse low back pain during pregnancy reported chronic low back pain postpartum
- These same women self-reported a reduction in their overall health as well
What Causes Low Back Pain During Pregnancy?Under normal circumstances, low back pain is a highly complex pain syndrome. With a variety of pain-sensitive tissues like muscles, ligaments, and discs all potential culprits, there’s also the intricacy of the nervous system that adds a level of involvement to understanding the causes of low back pain. Regardless of what body part is the main pain generator, we can look to the most obvious initiating factor as a starting point when seeking out solutions. As the months pass and the baby grows, the rest of your body will shift to accommodate for the growing belly. The lower back will gradually start to curve as the pelvis tilts and take on an increased lumbar lordosis, while the shoulders move back to compensate for the shifting center of gravity and enlarging uterus. Lastly, the head takes on a more forward position, a condition itself called Anterior Head Syndrome. All of this occurs in the presence of a major hormone change that relaxes the ligaments in the pelvic area to allow for an easier birth but also makes the structures in the spine less stable and subject to increased stress. There is even a chance that late in pregnancy, the abdominal muscles could separate (Diastasis Recti Abdominus), also leading to a change in posture. This global postural shift seen during pregnancy increases the stress and strain on the low back and, as the data suggests, makes some form of low back pain almost expected during pregnancy.
Could Low Back Pain Affect My Baby’s Development?While there is no clear-cut research on whether or not low back pain during pregnancy is harmful to the developing child, it’s not a big leap to think that immobility, pain, and discomfort could make it far more difficult for a pregnant women to fulfill her vital health requirements. Low back pain would make it difficult to:
- Prepare and cook whole food meals leading to an increase in processed food consumption (poor in nutrients and rich in irritants)
- Stay on track with training and movement strategies
- Attain high-quality sleep
- Keep stress at manageable levels