“How will I make it to the end of my pregnancy?”… Why you’ve got back pain in your second or third trimester and 2 things you can start doing NOW to help.
Pregnancy is often such a wonderful time.
Except when it’s not.
If back pain is stealing some of your glow, this post is for you.
It is for those of you who have made it through the trials of the first trimester, and who are now into your second or third. (If you’re still in your first trimester and suffering from lower back pain, you can read about what’s happening in your body here).
This back pain may be new to you, or it may be an extension of a pain you’ve felt prior to being pregnant.
Back pain is one of the most common complaints we see in our pregnant patients. However, just because it’s common, doesn’t mean you have to concede defeat and just accept it the way it is. There are a number of things you can do to help manage this pain.
Certainly, towards the end of your pregnancy, there will be times that you feel uncomfortable, no matter what you do. However, there is a difference between the discomfort of having a (near) full-term baby in your belly, and pain.
The aim of this post is to talk about why this pain may be present, and what can be done about it.
As you approach the end of your second trimester (somewhere around the 28-week mark, give or take a couple of weeks either side), your pelvis will start to rotate anteriorly.
If you’d like some clarification as to exactly what this means, we’ve explained it in this video:
When this happens, the curves in your spine need to be able to adapt too.
If they don’t, you may end up suffering from back pain.
Strictly speaking, this is a separate issue to pelvic girdle pain (PGP), which is pain anywhere in or around the ring of your pelvis. The two conditions can co-exist, however. If you’d like to read more about PGP, you can click here.
The change in the orientation of your pelvis has flow-on effects for the rest of your spine.
In order for you to fully understand this, we’ll break it down into the two regions most affected by these changes.
Region #1: The Lumbar Spine
This refers to the 5 vertebrae that make up your lower back.
In the anteriorly rotated position, your lumbar spine starts to develop what’s known as an increased lordosis. This means that the curve in it becomes a bigger C-shape, or what some people call a ‘sway back’.
Because of the anatomy of this region of your spine, this increased curve results in more load going through the joints of your lower back, which can start to cause irritation and pain.
Another result of your seemingly ever-expanding belly is that the uterus continues to expand, growing bigger and heavier by the day.
This means that for most people, more weight is carried through the front of your body, which can put strain on your abdominal muscles and pubic bone. This is likely to be you if you feel pain or tension around your pubic bone, or a lot of tightness through your stomach muscles.
Some women, however, tend to accommodate this increase in weight by taking the strain on their pelvic floor muscles and pelvic ligaments. If you feel a constant pelvic pressure, this is most likely the way your body is adapting to these changes.
Whichever way your body chooses to adapt to these changes, the increased weight carried in your pelvis needs to be supported by your lower back.
Region #2: The Thoracic Spine
This refers to the 12 vertebrae that make up the middle to upper portion of your back.
Regardless of which way your body decides to carry the weight changes through your pelvis, it is vital that your thoracic spine (the area in the middle of your back), as well as your rib cage, are able to move freely.
If you’re stiff or tight through your middle or upper back and ribs, it will place a downwards pressure on your belly, meaning you’re more likely to suffer pain in the pubic region.
This is because your baby’s size is constantly increasing, and everything associated with it wants to expand upwards.
If your thoracic spine and ribs can’t allow for this expansion, then the force will be redirected downwards.
Our assessment of pregnant ladies always examines them from head to toe, as regardless of their area(s) of pain, there will be involvement throughout the whole body.
“Okay, so what can I do about it?”
…Self-management strategies for you to try at home.
Two exercises that can be helpful to manage this are:
- “Threading the needle”.
These exercises help increase the range of motion of the entire spine, which will result in decreased pressure on your lower back and pelvis.
Self-management strategies such as these form an integral part of our management programs for pregnant patients. Give them a try- we hope that they help you and would love to hear your thoughts on them.
If you’ve tried these out, but you’re still in pain, our expert Osteopaths are well trained in managing pregnancy related pain. Give us a call on (03) 9372 7714, or book online today for personalised management strategies.