Pregnancy Lower Back Pain
It's A Very Common Sign Of Pregnancy
Most of us can easily recall either seeing or being the pregnant woman who walks with one hand firmly attached to her lower back. Pregnancy lower back pain is not something that generally causes alarm. Actually, the estimate is that between 50-80% of women suffer with back pain at some point during their pregnancy, most often between the fifth and seventh month-although, some women deal with early pregnancy low back pain.
Lower back pain in the early stages of pregnancy is most often attributed to the release of hormones needed to prepare the body for pregnancy and childbirth. Progesterone is one such hormone that remains highly active during pregnancy, and another related hormone, relaxin, is released as well. These hormones weaken the ligaments and loosen the joints in the lumbar region and pelvis. Consequently, cramping and pain happen in the lower back region.
Two Types Of Lower Back Pain
During the course of pregnancy there are two predominant types of back pains women encounter-lumbar back pain and posterior pelvic pain. Lumbar back pain is similar to the type of back pain a woman would feel if she wasn't pregnant, but it increases in intensity as the pregnancy progresses. A woman who has had prior back issues is more likely to experience lumbar back pain during pregnancy than a woman who has never had back problems. Women who experience lower back pain during ovulation are also more inclined to suffer with lumbar low back pain during their pregnancy.
However, even more prevalent is posterior pelvic pain which can almost be considered a symptom of pregnancy. The reason for this is especially due to the hormone effect of relaxin on the pelvic joints and the fact that the body gains almost another 25% of additional weight-around the middle-that puts excessive strain on the back and legs. This added weight shifts the center of gravity, which means a woman is likely to allow her back to sway in order to manage the awkwardness of the weight.
Some women experience both types of lower back pain during their pregnancy, making it more uncomfortable.
Pressure On Organs
There may be other causes for lower back pain that may not seem to be related to pregnancy. One such cause is low back pain from the kidneys or a kidney infection. As the baby grows in the womb, pressure is put on the organs in the region of the uterus. Two such organs are the kidneys. Depending upon the position of the uterus and the way the baby is lying in the womb, the kidneys may be the target of serious pressure which, in turn, causes low back pain in that region. Also, kidney infections-which cause back pain even when a woman is not pregnant-can present a lot of discomfort and pain during pregnancy. It is important to have any infection dealt with as soon as possible in order to avoid complications.
An Ounce Of Prevention...
Preventative measures are always better than having to find a solution to the pain after the fact. In order to avoid lower back pain, it's good to establish an exercise program that includes stretching and strengthening the muscles that support the back and legs, including the abdominal muscles. Swimming provides an excellent way to accomplish this with the added benefit of buoyancy which takes the stress off the joints and muscles while strengthening them at the same time. There are many facilities that offer fitness classes specifically for pregnant women, and they feature low back exercises designed for pregnancy. It makes good sense to avoid high-impact exercises as well as over stretching the muscles. Since the joints and ligaments are looser, the propensity for injury increases.
If lower back pain is already part of the reality, then gentle exercises like pelvic tilts can be very effective. Also known as the Cat Stretch in yoga, this exercise is particularly helpful in easing back pain during pregnancy. It not only stretches the muscles, but it also strengthens them. As with all exercise, at any time, women should listen to their bodies. If any activity or exercise is painful or stressful, then don't do it.
Understanding where the lower back pain comes from and how to best deal with it takes some of the stress out of pregnancy.