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Chelsea at Crunch Gym

Forty Weeks of Fitness!

Chelsea, our pregnancy fitness expert, is a certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in San Francisco, California. She gave birth to her daughter, Madeira Re, in July 2006. Read more

Back Pain

Back pain affects approximately half of pregnant women, sometimes beginning early in their pregnancy and continuing for months after they give birth. Persistent and severe back pain can interfere with daily life, work, and sleep, and can cause increased and unnecessary pain during delivery. However, there are a number of things you can do to reduce or eliminate your back pain.

There are three common kinds of lower back pain that strike during pregnancy: pain when you stand and/or sit, pain at the back of your pelvis and deep in your buttocks, and pain that appears only at night, when you are in bed. Back pain during pregnancy is usually the result of postural, weight, and hormonal changes. As your weight increases during your pregnancy, your center of gravity shifts forward and you naturally change your posture to compensate. The hormone relaxin is also released during your pregnancy, which causes your joints to become more flexible; while this increased flexibility is crucial during delivery, it decreases your lower back's stability during a time at which it's under added stress. Your abdominal muscles also stretch to give your baby room to grow, which means they can no longer stabilize your pelvis, leaving your spine and back muscles to do the job. And finally, the weight and pressure of the baby later in your pregnancy can compress nerves in your spine. No wonder you're uncomfortable!

Easing the Pain

  • Maintain good posture. Do not force your body into a straight line and do not let yourself stand sway-backed. Keep your ears in line with your shoulders.

  • Wear sensible, low-heeled shoes with arch-support.

  • Avoid lifting heavy objects. When you are lifting something, bend at the knees and lift with your legs, not your back.

  • Try wearing a supportive maternity belt.

  • Avoid standing for extended periods of time; but when you do need to stand or sit for a long stretch, do so with one foot on a low stool, switching feet every once in a while.

  • Try sleeping on your side, with a pillow between your knees. A special pregnancy body pillow will also help support your back and your uterus.

  • Make sure your workspace is ergonomically correct. Invest in an ergonomic chair if necessary.

  • Immerse yourself in warm (but not hot) water. The warmth and buoyancy of the water takes the pressure off your back and legs and helps relax your muscles.

  • Talk to your doctor about exercises for your lower back to increase your strength and flexibility. Gentle stretching can help relieve the pain temporarily as well.

If your pain does not get better, gets markedly worse, or is accompanied by a fever, chills, or aches, and extends up the right side of your back, it could be a kidney infection and you should see your doctor. Kidney infections are common during pregnancy and can cause premature labor and other complications, so it's important you receive proper medical attention immediately.


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