Strengthen your back now, and prevent the ouch as you enter motherhood.
Pregnancy back pain is no joke. During your first trimester, women likely deal with a fair amount of nausea and fatigue. The good news is that tends to fade during the second trimester. In fact, many people say the second trimester is the time they feel the best during pregnancy. The bad news? More uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms can come your way as your bump grows.
As your pregnancy progresses and you start gaining more weight, there is one part of your body in particular that didn't get the memo about all the second trimester goodness—and that will really take a toll as your bump gets heavier during the third trimester: your back!
More specifically, the physical and hormonal changes that your body is undergoing in these stages of pregnancy will most often affect your lower back. That is because, as your belly expands and your ligaments in the hips and pelvis loosen, your center of gravity changes, too.
But here's some good news: You can strengthen your back, which means that it will hurt less. As always, check in with your provider before trying any new exercises, and to ensure that the pain you are feeling is normal, and not something more concerning (did you know that urinary tract infections often present as back pain in pregnancy?)
From posture to healthy everyday habits and exercises, here are 10 tips to ease or prevent back pain during pregnancy.
1. Tilt your pelvis
If you have take a yoga class, you may have heard your yoga instructor say this— it's even more important now that you are pregnant. Drawing the belly in and pulling your tailbone down while you are standing and doing daily activities can work a part of your abs that will keep your back healthy. Plus, it can aid in labor and delivery, creating the best pathway for the baby during a vaginal delivery.
2. Try goddess squats
Coming into a low squat with your heels on the ground resembles a stance in which many women still labor and deliver babies. Your back is curved and relaxed. Holding this position will also strengthen your legs to maintain this position during contractions and for added pain relief on your big day.
3. Don't lift, or lift with good form
Most providers recommend that pregnancy women avoid lifting heavy objects during pregnancy. But if this is your second child, you are probably lifting your toddler a lot. As your pregnancy progresses and if your back is bothering you, it would be wise to do that less. If you have to lift little people or objects, make sure to bend your knees and keep your chest up instead of leaning forward. This will put less pressure on your back, keeping it safer throughout your pregnancy.
4. Wear a pelvic support belt
There is a wide variety of belts that support the pelvis and lower back, similar to what bodybuilders and crossfit athletes wear when tackling bigger weights. Specifically the Gabrialla maternity belt is a good option if you are on your feet a lot. It gives gentle support, without restricting your movement.
5. Lie on your side with a pregnancy pillow between your knees
Starting in your second trimester, providers recommend not to lie on your back—laying on your side will get ensure the best blood flow to your uterus and growing baby. To relax your lower back, try placing a pregnancy pillow like Motherly's Esse Pillow, between your legs, which will help your lumbar spine decompress. Even 10 mins should significantly take the pressure off.
6. Wear maternity athletic wear for workouts
As your belly grows bigger, you will need to replace some of your existing workout gear. Why not invest in your good looks and health by buying targeted maternity apparel that will keep your back healthy? The mumberryfit line has a built in Mumband that's invisible but supportive, so you don't have to worry about straining your back during prenatal yoga. Plus, it's cute enough to wear outside of the studio.
7. See an acupuncturist or chiropractor
Pregnancy is a good time to explore alternative health practices when your options for pain relief are limited. So instead of treating symptoms, invest in acupuncture sessions or chiropractic appointments to make sure you are in alignment and balanced beyond just the physical aspects. Both practices will also prepare your body for labor and may help breech babies turn. Just remember to choose a practitioner who specializes in prenatal care.
8. Do bird dogs
The bird dog yoga pose is one of the best exercises to do while pregnant. It works your core gently and can help with preventing and treating diastasis recti after giving birth. Bonus point for helping support your lower back.
9. Stand up often
We know—it's easier said than done. But if you are in an office job, moving around is even more important now that you are expecting. Sitting for long periods of time is linked to postural chronic pain as well as cardiovascular disease. As much as you can, get up from your desk and walk around a little bit to prevent slouching and back pain.
10. Lie down with your legs up the wall
This delicious restorative yoga pose only has to be modified minimally to give you even better results in pregnancy. Scoot up to a wall sideways, then put a blanket on the floor directly under your hips. Place your hips and sacrum on it as you lift your legs up against the wall. Lie down on your back, close your eyes, turn your palms up and relax your legs. Stay here for at least 10 mins and your back will thank you.