Pregnancy changes your body in many ways. While most of us expect that we might have a few stretch marks or carry some extra weight after delivering a baby, there are some unexpected changes that might be uncomfortable. Back pain is one of them.
Many women experience aches and pains along their spine shortly after giving birth, and it can persist for weeks or even months after your delivery. If this matches how you’re feeling, you’re not alone.
Fortunately, there are some simple changes you can make that can help you cope with this and reduce discomfort. We have some tips to help you feel mobile and strong again so you can be your best for yourself and your baby.
- Cause of Postpartum Back Pain
- Ways to Deal With the Pain
- Long-Term Back Health
- When It’s Time to Call Your Doctor
- Feel Your Best so You Can Be Your Best
Cause of Postpartum Back Pain
There are a few things that could be affecting your comfort levels. Most of these causes don’t have long-term complications and might be easily treated at home or, if it persists, under a doctor’s care.
Your Body Returning to Normal
In many cases, this pain is due to the ligaments in your pelvis and lower back retracting to their previous state. During pregnancy, it’s not just your belly that stretches. Your pelvis stretches, too, and your pregnancy hormones encourage your ligaments and joints to become looser to enable you to give birth.
Afterward, they have to return to normal.
You put a lot of strain on your body during labor and delivery. Depending on how you delivered your baby, there could be some trauma to your muscles that could take time to heal. It can cause a lot of strain to push out a baby.
A C-section is also hard on your body since the uterine wall is cut into during the procedure.
If you’re experiencing pain along your spine in the weeks right after giving birth, it may be due to receiving an epidural. Some mothers report tenderness around the injection site, sharp pain, or numbing sensations in the lower back and hips.
This should subside within a few weeks, but if it doesn’t, you should speak to your doctor.
Your new life as a mother can also put some stress on your back. Bending and twisting, or carrying a baby in a heavy car seat, can cause pain if done incorrectly. Even your posture during things like breastfeeding can cause pain and stress.
Ways to Deal With the Pain
If you’re breastfeeding, it can be tough to find methods of safe pain relief for you and your baby. Fortunately, there are some methods that are drug-free and healthful.
Your doctor will advise you not to lift anything heavy in the weeks following your child’s birth. Your recovery time might vary depending on how you delivered your child. C-sections can take more time for your body to recover since it’s an invasive procedure.
Rest frequently; don’t be on your feet for too long of a stretch as your body heals. When you rest, you might put your feet up too. Elevating your feet can help relieve stress on your back.
Once you’re past your initial recovery, and your doctor gives you the go-ahead for more rigorous physical activity, you can start incorporating some exercises to help strengthen and stretch your muscles.
Pilates and yoga are terrific low-impact exercises that can help you build up your core strength, both front, and back. These exercises are also great for correcting your posture issues.
Swimming is a great option for cardio activity. It doesn’t put pressure on your back or any other achy spots, but it helps you exercise your full body and get the blood pumping. Plus, swimming is fun and relaxing.
Sometimes your pain can be relieved by relaxing away the tension that you hold in your muscles. It’s not surprising that you might be a little tense trying to juggle late-night feedings and all the other new responsibilities and schedule changes you’re experiencing.
Massage can be a great way to treat your tense muscles and reduce pain. Get your partner to gently rub your sore spots, or better yet, treat yourself to a spa day and let the professionals spoil you.
Soaking in a hot bath can have similar effects on your body, easing the pain away. You can amp things up by adding some Epsom salts and essential oils. The magnesium in Epsom salts can help reduce pain and prevent muscle spasms. And a little lavender oil can soothe your sense and help you relax, especially right before bed.
Aches and pains can be the result of inflammation. While some inflammation is normal in your body, too much of it can cause all sorts of problems and in your back, it can affect your spine.
The food you eat can sometimes increase the amount of inflammation in your body. Dairy, gluten, and sugars are common culprits for inflammation that you should have in moderation. Alcohol, cured meats, and trans fats should also be avoided.
Fill your diet with antioxidant-rich foods. Swap processed oils for pure olive oil and load up your diet with fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains. You can also take omega-3 supplements to get anti-inflammatory benefits even if you don’t like eating fish.
Getting enough water is also very important to keep your joints lubricated and your inflammation levels in check. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day and aim to get at least two liters of pure water every day. Coffee and tea can be good, but should never replace water.
Long-Term Back Health
For keeping your back healthy for life, it’s important to be careful about things like your posture.
Watch out for how you interact with your furniture. Especially if you work at a desk, little things like a lack of lumbar support or a screen that sits too low can become cumulative, causing serious pain over time.
Avoid hunching over when you are feeding or caring for your baby as well. Try out a few different feeding positions to find which one is comfortable for you. A stroller that’s too low and makes you roll your shoulders forward when you push it can also cause you to have some pain, so make sure to adjust it to a comfortable level.
It might be hard, but keep your spine as straight as possible and try to keep your chin parallel to the floor when you’re sitting. Try not to pop your hip when standing or always balance your baby on the same hip. Be mindful of keeping your body balanced and switch sides frequently if you do have to put more weight on one side.
Build Your Strength
While light exercise is good while you’re experiencing pain, for long-term support, you may want to gradually build up your muscles with some strength training. If you plan on having more children, it can be useful to build up your core strength and pelvic girdle.
Weights or kettlebell training can be really good for toning up your muscles, but it’s important to keep your posture correct while weightlifting to avoid injury. Remember the classic advice to lift from the knees.
Take Care of Your Sleeping Posture
Many people sleep on mattresses that are too soft or not supportive enough. While something cushy can feel nice initially, it can also cause pressure points on your body and make for back pain during your waking hours.
Choose a firmer mattress and use semi-firm pillows to help provide extra support where you need it. Your maternity pillow can still be a great way to support your back even after you have your baby, or just put a firm pillow between your knees if you’re a side sleeper, or under your knees, if you’re a back sleeper.
When It’s Time to Call Your Doctor
If your pain starts to worsen, or you can’t find relief, it may be time to consult a professional. When pain starts to interfere with your everyday life and makes it harder for you to care for your child, you deserve to find relief. There are a few other warning signs to look out for.
If you ever have severe back pain coupled with a fever, you should contact your doctor. And if you suffered from a trauma or injury during delivery, then continuous pain can be a sign that something has gone wrong, and you might need treatment.
Feel Your Best so You Can Be Your Best
Back pain is never fun and postpartum back pain comes at a time when you’re still getting to know all the changes your body is experiencing. It can be tough to know exactly what the problem is, but fortunately, in most cases, postpartum back pain isn’t serious. It’s an annoyance, but there are ways you can help relieve the pain without taking drugs that can be passed to your child if you’re breastfeeding.
When you feel your best, you’ll be able to give your best to your child. Even more importantly, you can start feeling like you again, which can be a welcome relief at a time when you are learning new things about yourself and your child every day.