Hormonal and biological changes during pregnancy and childbirth can take a toll on a woman’s body and they can take a few months to fully recover from them but if the low back ache during pregnancy and after delivery (postpartum) are ignored, it could lead to a weak spine in the later years of life. More than 60 percent of women reportedly have lower back pain during pregnancy due to the lordotic compensatory posture that one develops due to the growing weight in the belly area and/or the hormonal changes.
Causes of postpartum back pain:
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Shubhang Aggarwal, Director and Orthopaedic and Robotic Joint Replacement Surgeon at Jalandhar’s NHS Hospital revealed, “The condition occurs as during pregnancy, your uterus expands and weakens the abdominal muscles. Also with increased weight in the belly area as the child grows in the womb, causes a compensatory exaggerates backward curvature called lordosis. This bending of the lower spine backward, puts strain on your back.”
Suggesting that the hormonal changes could also cause back pain, Dr Shubhang Aggarwal explained, “The body releases progesterone and relaxing hormones during pregnancy which help to prepare the pelvic cavity of the body for delivery by loosening the ligaments and stretching of joints. Since these hormones stay for a few months after delivery, it leads to post-delivery or postpartum back pain. The natural ‘S’ curve of the spine is affected by pregnancy, and this also shifts the center of gravity.”
He added, “The weight of a growing baby in the uterus can sometimes compresses the nerves exiting the spine, and this also changes the overall posture of mother. While mothers recover from this condition after a few months, the problem doesn’t correct itself after childbirth. Obesity or being overweight can put extra pressure on your back muscles, leading to chronic pain.”
Dr Shubhang Aggarwal listed ways to relieve lower back pain. These include:
1. Correct posture – Pregnant women tend to slump their shoulders and arch their back as their belly grows, which puts more strain on the spine. If you sit most of the day, which is most common in case of women working from home nowadays, be sure to take regular small walks and stand up straight.
2. Exercise regularly – You may feel like lying in the bed when your back hurts, but that could further aggravate the condition. A little bit of exercise may be just what you need. However, you need to be careful while exercising as in some conditions, you may have to limit your activity or skip exercise altogether.
Do not lift heavy weights after delivery as this can put severe pressure on your back muscles and joints. Apart from that, wear comfortable shoes and make sure they have good arch support.
3. Maintain a normal body weight – Pregnancy often leads to weight gain, so try to get back to normal weight after two to three months of delivery. For achieving a normal or healthy body weight, a correct diet is very important after pregnancy. Include fresh vegetable, fruits, and protein in your diet along with right nutrition and regular exercise and Yoga.
Stressing that mothers must not ignore any excessive back pain or neck pain and must consult an orthopedic specialist, Dr Shubhang Aggarwal shared, “Treatment includes spine rehabilitation which is a proven way to treat postpartum sciatica and lower back pain. Postpartum back pain usually lasts for 6 months but may continue much longer. It occurs mostly while performing activities that involve body movements like walking, lifting, bending, and/or carrying the new baby. Failure to adequately treat the symptoms may lead to chronic pain and affect the overall quality of life.”
A pain-free back after labour and delivery may help new mothers to enjoy their motherhood and take care of their baby.