Many women experience discomfort in their back and/or pelvis during pregnancy. The muscles in the back, pelvic floor and stomach support the back and pelvis joints. However, as the uterus grows with the baby, it’s harder for these muscles to do their job. This can result in stiffness and pain.
In addition, the pelvis is impacted by pregnancy hormones like estrogen and relaxin. These hormones make the tissues that connect the ligaments around the pelvis stretch more. This can result in pelvic pain, which is actually more common in pregnant women than lower back pain.
So how can you help protect these areas while you’re pregnant, reduce pain and make movement easier? Experienced Florida physical therapists like those at Southeast Orthopedic Specialists’ three Jacksonville therapy centers will tell you that changing the way you move and position yourself can make a difference. Maintaining proper posture can be more difficult than ever when you’re carrying a growing person inside of you, but it’s extremely important to your physical well-being.
Sitting and Standing
Whenever you’re in a standing position, tighten your stomach and pelvic floor muscles to provide added support to your back. It may help to pretend that your head is being pulled up by a string to make you taller.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes. You don’t have to give up heels entirely. Wear what’s comfortable for you. High heels are never good for long periods of standing or walking under any conditions, but they can have a greater impact on your body while you’re pregnant.
When you’re sitting, be sure that your back has cushioned support. If you sit in an office chair, a lumbar roll might help. Sitting on a birth ball or exercise ball will prevent you from slumping. It also helps to sit with your legs slightly apart to make room for your expanding belly. Avoid soft chairs that make it easy to slump. Avoid sitting for long periods. Get up and walk around at least every 20 minutes. (That’s a good rule for everyone!).
It’s also important how you move from a sitting to standing position so that you don’t place undue pressure isn’t placed on your back or pelvis. You can find step-by-step instructions, illustrations and/or photos to help you do this correctly on just about any pregnancy website. As with everything else, there are YouTube videos as well. However, make sure that you’re getting your information from a knowledgeable source.
Adjust Your Position and Movements in Bed
When lying in bed, instead of lying on your back (which makes some women feel faint because the baby is pushing into their blood vessels) lie on your left with knees bent and pillows between your knees. That helps reduce the pressure on your hip muscles. Many women place a maternity pillow or rolled-up towel under their waist or belly. This can help with back pain.
Turning over in bed can be a production in itself. As with standing up, rolling over in bed needs to be done properly to reduce pressure and pain. Getting out of bed, just like sitting up from a chair, needs to be done properly. Again, you can find step-by-step instructions on pregnancy websites.
Exercise Regularly but Carefully
Of course, you should always consult with your obstetrician regarding what types of exercise are safe for you during pregnancy and before changing your exercise routine. If you are able to exercise through your pregnancy (and most women are), staying fit can help prevent back pain. It won’t help as much with pelvic pain, however.
Generally, walking, swimming and biking are good forms of exercise for pregnant women. Many also find yoga and other stretching exercises helpful. Some join classes specifically for pregnant women. The key is not to overdo it. You don’t want to exercise to the point of pain. (Actually, that’s never a good idea!)
Protecting your back and joints while you’re pregnant can help prevent injuries and keep old injuries from flaring up. If you are having pain or mobility issues due to an injury or other physical condition, call us or contact us online to see how our Florida orthopedic specialists can help you.Return to Blog