Many of the physical changes that bring on lower back pain during pregnancy can continue to cause pain even after you have had your new bundle of joy.
During pregnancy, your growing uterus stretches and weakens your core muscles, which can lead to alterations in your posture and extra stress on your back. Hormonal changes during pregnancy loosen the joints and ligaments that attach your pelvis to your spine, which can lead to instability in your back and make everyday activities like changing positions, walking and standing difficult to do without lower back pain.
These changes take place over the nine months and do not disappear overnight. And now that your nights are filled with anything else but sleep, I know the thought of doing anything for yourself is the furthest thing from your mind. So here are a few things that you can do to help prevent continued back pain.
One thing that you can do that doesn’t take up any extra time is keeping good posture with all the new and old activities that are now a part of your day. To help with that you can work on keeping your core turned on by pulling your belly button in towards your spine; this action helps to engage your transversus abdominis, which gives stability and support to your back.
The other thing you can do is to maintain good bending and lifting mechanics to decrease the load through your back. Your back is meant to give you posture and keep you upright, not for lifting. That is what your legs and the larger muscles of your lower extremities are for. So when you are bending forward to pick your baby up from their crib or lean over to dress them, always think about bending from your hips first and then your knees, keeping your back straight and safe from pain. Also, do not jump back into your pre-pregnancy workout routine too quickly. Your body needs time to heal, specifically your core, which is important in any type of exercise program.
If you find that your back is still causing you some pain, make sure to mention that to your OBGYN during your 6 week post-partum visit. He or she can help to evaluate your situation and discuss possible treatment options, and help refer you to a specialist if needed. Working with a physical therapist can help treat your back pain and they can teach you exercises to strengthen your core and keep your back healthy. A physical therapist can also help make sure that your body is ready for your pre-pregnancy workout routine and help get you there.
Anna Ribaudo is a doctor of physical therapy at the Integrative Care Center at Hospital for Special Surgery and a certified orthopedic specialist. She completed her doctorate degrees at New York Institute of Technology in 2003 and has completed an orthopedic residency at Hospital for Special Surgery, and now is a mentor in the program. She is working towards completing her CAPP-OB certification.