Is Back Pain Normal During Pregnancy?
According to the American Pregnancy Association 50 - 70% of women experience back pain during pregnancy. In our society this is often considered to be a normal part of pregnancy. Many women spend a significant amount of time during their pregnancy uncomfortable and unable to function well during normal daily activities. This can be disrupting to their lives and take away from the joy of pregnancy.
Is Back Pain One Of Your Body’s Normal Response To Pregnancy?
Back pain is common during pregnancy, but it is not normal! Instead, it is your body's way of signaling to you that something is wrong and divert your attention to a problem that your body is struggling to adapt to or fix. Rather than continuing to live with the pain it is important for you to address these problems immediately so that you can have an optimally healthy pregnancy and birth.
Back Pain & Your Pelvic Biomechanics
During pregnancy the body not only adapts to the added weight of the growing baby but also goes through changes due to the release of excess hormones. One of the most important hormones of pregnancy, relaxin, prepares the body for birth by relaxing ligaments and softening the cervix. These hormones are necessary for a natural pregnancy and birth; however, the loose ligaments can also create less stability for your body. Back pain during pregnancy is often caused by abnormal biomechanics that have developed due to these changes and are exacerbated with daily activities.
In my practice I find that many women who experience back pain during pregnancy typically have bad posture, muscle imbalances, muscle weaknesses, and faulty movement patterns even before they get pregnant. Many times these go unnoticed before pregnancy. Once the pregnancy hormones begin to relax the ligaments in the body there will be less stability in the joints. These previous imbalances exacerbate the faulty pelvic biomechanics and lead to many inflammatory and painful conditions. There can be many negative effects on your pregnancy and labor when your pelvis is not moving and functioning the way it is designed.
This added stress to the pelvis causes significant stress on the sacrum bone, more commonly known as the tailbone. This bone is located at the bottom of your spine and is in the center of both the pelvic bones. Stress on the sacrum can cause these joints to move incorrectly and can cause adhesions in the ligaments that attach the uterus to the pelvis.
What Other Issues Are Associated With Back Pain Caused By Abnormal Biomechanics During Pregnancy?
Back pain, even if it is tolerable, should be addressed because it is a red flag that you are having issues with your pelvis or elsewhere. Pain is the body’s alarm system that informs us when we need to correct something that has gone wrong, stop doing something that is causing harm, or address a faulty pattern caused by bad biomechanics.
A Difficult Or Traumatic Birth
A woman’s body is magnificently intelligent. From conception to birth her body knows exactly what to do at each step of the way. One of those steps is the widening of the pelvis to allow for the baby to fit through during birth. If the pelvic biomechanics are sound, this process happens very easily. If there is dysfunction with the pelvic bones and supporting structures the pelvis may not be able to open up properly. This can cause a more painful and prolonged labor with an increased likelihood that interventions like epidurals, forceps, vacuum extractions, and Cesarean sections will be needed.
Misalignments in the pelvic bones can cause excess tension on the uterosacral ligament and round ligament causing intrauterine constraint. During which the uterus is compromised and there is not enough space for the baby to move freely. This can inhibit proper development and position of baby.
Postpartum Pelvic Floor And Core Issues
The pelvic floor consists of the muscles and ligaments that support the base of the pelvis and hold up the contents of the abdomen. The pelvic floor is connected to the two illium bones of the pelvis and is deeply connected to the deep muscular stabilizers in the back and core. If there is misalignment in the pelvic bones this can cause added stress to the pelvic floor. These abnormal biomechanics, along with the added weight on the structures, can cause the pelvic floor to become overburdened and weakened.
What Should You Do About Back Pain During Pregnancy?
In order to restore proper functioning of your spine and pelvis the very best thing you can do is see an expert. Chiropractors who specialize in prenatal and postpartum care will work to restore proper motion and function of the spine. In my practice this is done by utilizing Chiropractic adjustments, muscle activation and strengthening, ligament mobilization, and training proper breathing techniques.
Dr. Katherine Melot
Dr. Melot is the founder of birthbabybody and is in private practice focusing on prenatal, postnatal, and pediatric Chiropractic care in Austin, TX. Dr. Melot graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa as Summa Cum Laude. After graduating from Palmer she decided to pursue her Masters in Positive Psychology Coaching and a Pediatric Chiropractic Certification and webster chiropractic certification through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.