As if you didn’t already have enough to worry about, indications are that 50% of all pregnant women suffer back pain. The annoying thing is that there is little information as to What? Why? When? Who?
There are three main areas which are :
- the lumbar spine
This can be when the joints in the spine were stiff even before the pregnancy. This make the back less flexible, hence less tolerant and less able to cope with the weight gained during the pregnancy.
- the pelvis
Pelvic girdle pain can be at the front as in Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction (PSD) or at the back in the sacroiliac joints. If you are particularly unfortunate it may occur in both.
- the groin
This mainly happens in the latter stages of pregnancy when the size and weight of the baby challenges the ligaments and other structures in and around the lower abdomen and groin areas.
The main contenders in this category are the weight gain, pre-existing muscle imbalances due to spinal joint stiffness, and finally the hormonal changes.
The combination of the growing foetus, the amniotic fluid and the common additional fat deposits in preparation for breast feeding are causing the weight gain. The foetus and fluid alone can at full term make up a quarter of your body weight. Not only that, but as the baby grows the centre of gravity moves further forward away from your spine increasing the demands on your muscles desperately trying to keep you from toppling forward. As the demands on your back increase any previously undetected back problems may suddenly come to light.
Now for the hormonal reasons. the main one are the late stage hormones, the Relaxins. They are there to soften ligaments increasing their stretchiness allowing the pelvis to expand during labour. Unfortunately, this loss of stability puts even greater demands on your poor spine and back muscles further highlighting any weakness and pre-existing problems.
The ‘Who?’ and the ‘When?’
The ‘Who?’ and the ‘When?’ depends on each individual and on both musculoskeletal and psychological factors. People who are fit and well, look after themselves and are relaxed about their pregnancy are less likely to suffer any adverse side effects. It is important to realise that the foundation for a successful pregnancy starts before conceiving. Your frame of mind, your nutritional status and your overall physical and mental health all influence the chances of a trouble free 40 weeks. Don’t get paranoid and focus on the things that may go wrong – childbirth is a natural process that has happened for millions of years. However, eating well, eliminating stress, getting plenty of sleep and taking regular exercise all help.
So, where can we help?
All our practitioners at Park View are here to help you throughout this exciting but often stressful time. We can offer treatment and advice on any of the issues mentioned above. A chiropractor can help ensuring that your spine and pelvis function optimally and advise you on rest and suitable exercises before, during and after the pregnancy. An acupuncturist can help looking after your hormonal balances and help you managing stress. Gill worked for a number of years as a midwife and so has extensive experience in this field. Our massage therapist can relax you and help ease aching muscles. We can all help ease any pain that you experience and advise on diet and lifestyle changes to optimise the chances of your pregnancy going well.