So you’ve thought about what color you want to paint the nursery. You’ve thought about the brand and type of stroller you want to buy. And you’ve thought about where and how you want to give birth. But have you thought about preventing pregnancy back pain? We can tell you from firsthand experience that we hadn’t given it a second thought until waking up with pain down there.
Pregnancy back pain is often associated with the second and third trimesters. During those months, the weight of the baby can pull your hips out of alignment and put undue stress on the lumbar region of your back. But pregnancy back pain can actually start right after you get pregnant. This is because your abdominal muscles are starting to relax in preparation for the growth of the baby. When this happens, your pelvis can tilt forward even more than normal resulting in pain and discomfort and it’s no fun when that pain hits. What’s more, that pain can be difficult to get rid of after it arrives. Thankfully, there are simple ways to prevent pregnancy back pain through all three trimesters. Here are our 6 favorite tips.
1. Sleep On Your Side
Sleeping on your stomach is no longer a good idea when you’re pregnant. Yes, it’s comfortable, and yes, you may really miss it—we did, too—but sleeping on your stomach can make your pregnancy back pain even worse. And let’s not forget that sooner or later your baby bump is going to be in the way. It’s better to get used to another position now.
Instead of falling face-first into bed and staying that way, we suggest sleeping on your side. If you still have trouble getting comfortable on your side, invest in a pregnancy wedge or body pillow to lend support to your growing belly. You may even find it so comfortable that you’ll keep using it after giving birth!
2. Put The Stilettos Away For Now
The thing that makes you look good in a pair of high heels, is the same thing that can cause pregnancy back pain. High heels tip the pelvis forward out of natural alignment. Sure, this hip tilt accentuates other parts of the body and gives us a reason to wear the high heels, but it also creates more curvature in the lower back than is advisable during pregnancy.
We recommend ditching the heels altogether and just going with flats instead. Tennis shoes are also a great choice because they provide plenty of support for your feet and legs. If you just can’t kick your high-heel habit, we suggest keeping your heels under one inch.
3. Learn To Sit Tall At Your Desk
Sitting all day long at a computer is bad enough when you’re not pregnant. When you are pregnant, it can be one of the main causes of pregnancy back pain. To counteract sitting’s bad influence on your back, we recommend supporting your lower back with a lumbar pillow.
Good posture is also critical to preventing back pain. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your forearms on your desk as you type. Place your feet flat on the floor or elevate them on a footrest to lessen low-back curvature. And be sure to take regular breaks. We suggest standing up, walking around, and even doing some light stretching or exercise to relieve the pressure on your low back.
4. Walk Like A Model To Prevent Pregnancy Back Pain
Through the course of your life, you’ve probably walked so much you don’t give it a second thought. But you should. When you’re pregnant, walking with good posture can relieve a lot of the pressure on your low back.
We’ve found that imagining that you’re a model is a great way to get your body in alignment. Look ahead as you walk and keep your chin parallel with the ground. Keep your shoulders relaxed and lightly engage your thighs and abdominal muscles to give your spine support. Then, imagine yourself gliding from place to place or carrying a book on your head. This puts your body in the correct position. Plus, it makes you look good while you’re doing it.
5. Lift With Your Legs, Not Your Back
We know you’ve got a lot to do in a day, and that, more than likely, you’ll need to pick things up and put them down. Learning to lift correctly can work wonders at preventing pregnancy back pain.
We recommend bending from the knees and squatting down when you have to pick things up from the floor. Don’t bend over with your legs straight. That will put extra pressure on your low back and cause more pain. Instead, use the large muscles of your legs to lift the laundry basket. Keep your back straight and your abdominal muscles engaged to give support to your spine. You want to be able to lift your baby without your back howling in pain, so start practicing the correct way to lift now.
Left: correct; Right: incorrect
We also recommend paying attention to how you carry things once you do pick them up. First, balance the loads you carry so as not to put too much stress on one side or the other. Second, try to keep what you’re carrying close to your body rather than at arm’s length. We suggest trading in that massive carryall you call a purse for a smaller bag that can be worn across the body. And, if at all possible, just avoid heavy lifting in general while you’re pregnant.
6. Prevent Pregnancy Back Pain While Relaxing
Yeah, we know: You’re relaxing! Why should you have to think about good posture? Because sitting around watching TV can be one of the major causes of pregnancy back pain.
You likely curl up like a cat on the sofa and twist your upper body into strange positions just to see the TV. That’s precisely what you want to avoid. We suggest sitting directly in front of the TV (so you don’t have to stretch), keeping both feet on the ground, and supporting your low back with a pillow. Additionally, try to sit up straight and keep your shoulders relaxed. Getting used to this sitting position now will help your posture now and relieve pregnancy back pain in your third trimester. Less pain is always a good thing!