Pregnancy comes with different changes to the body. For example, as your uterus expands and stretches, it will weaken your abdominal muscles and alter your posture, putting strain on your back. Plus, extra weight means more work for your muscles and increased stress on your joints.
What’s more, hormonal changes in pregnancy can loosen the joints and the ligaments that attach your pelvic bones to your spine, which can make you feel less stable and cause pain when you walk, stand, sit for long periods, roll over in bed, get out of a low chair or the tub, bend, or lift things.
The following exercises are designed to be gentle, and are generally suggested to help relieve back pain (if they make the pain worse, stop the exercise).
Pelvic tilt exercises.
Pelvic tilt exercises are designed to help with lower back pain caused by an increased curve in the lower spine, as well as strengthening the abdominal muscles. A quick way to relieve lower backache is to lean your back up against a wall, feet slightly apart, weight on your heels and knees slightly bent. Take a deep breath in, and on the ‘out’ breath tighten the belly muscles and buttocks. By flattening the hollow of your lower back and pushing it up against the wall, you tilt your pelvis forward and upwards. Try to hold this position for a few seconds.
A pelvic tilt can also be done whilst lying on your back, with your knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Tilt your pelvis up towards your belly, keeping your shoulders and buttocks on the floor. Try to hold this for 3 seconds, and then relax. Repeat this a few times. After pelvic tilting on the floor, you can stay there for a good stretch of the lower back. With your bent legs together at the knees, lower the knees to one side of your body to the floor. Have your arms stretched out flat on each side for balance, looking in the opposite direction to your legs. Try not to lift either shoulder off the ground.
Shoulder rotation exercises.
Performing a shoulder rotation exercise can relieve upper back pain. Doing these a few times every day can help if you are experiencing pain (or a burning sensation) across the shoulder blades.
Place the fingertips of both hands on your shoulders and rotate your elbows in a backward circular motion a few times. Another exercise involves raising your arms up above your head and gently stretching to each side, being careful not to bend backwards. You can do this one leaning up against a wall to stop you from arching your back.
These practical tips from nhs.uk may help to relieve an aching back:
- While feeding your baby, always sit with your back well supported and straight. Put a small pillow or cushion behind your waist to support your lower back. Make sure your feet can reach the floor.
- Kneel or squat to do low-level jobs, such as bathing your baby or picking things up off the floor. Avoid bending your back. Make your knees do the work instead.
- Change nappies on a raised surface. You could kneel on the floor next to a sofa or bed. (Never leave your baby unattended on a raised surface, in case they fall off.)
- To lift heavy objects, such as a baby car seat or an older child, bend your knees, keep your back straight and hold the object close to your body. Make your thigh muscles work as you lift. Squeeze your pelvic floor and deep stomach muscles as you prepare to lift.
- Keep your back straight when you push your pram or buggy. Alternatively, carry your baby in a well-fitting sling.