Pregnant, and in agony from back pain? Here's what you can do to feel more comfortable

As your baby grows inside you, your abdomen grows as well; your centre of gravity moves forward and you may find yourself leaning back to compensate. This puts stress on your lower back, and is one of the many factors that can lead to back pain. Carrying extra weight around your middle puts further pressure on your back muscles, especially if your abdominal muscles were a little weak to begin with.

Even pain with a purpose hurts. But without defeating the purpose, you can conquer or, at least, manage the pain and discomfort. Here are some five common concerns and suggestions to ease back pain.

Concern 1

“My back pain is terrible. I'm worried I won't be able to stand up at all by the last trimester”.

Stand Tall

Perfect posture can go a long way toward easing back pain. Try to keep your centre of gravity in your spine and pelvis rather than out in your belly. Stand erect and straight with your shoulders pulled back. Slouching can precipitate or worsen the backache.

Kick off those heels

Word to the fashionista: because of the extra weight you're carrying, you'll want to pack away those stilettos and uncomfortable footwear. Think flat, simple and comfortable. You could also consider orthotics and orthopaedic shoe inserts designed for muscle support

Plying the pounds

Don't gain more than the recommended amount of weight. Nine months of carrying extra weight will take its toll on your back. If you're already a bit over the suggested gain, be sure to make up for it with added rest.

Concern 2

“I work in an office, and spend a long hours on my computer. I have difficulty getting up from my chair”.

Sitting for long periods can be as bad as sitting the wrong way. After every half hour take a break — take a walk around the office or do some stretching.

Sit right

Sitting puts more stress on your spine than any other activity, so it pays to do it right. Make sure that the chairs at home and at work provide good support, preferably with a straight back, arm support and a firm cushion. When you are seated, tuck a small, firm cushion in the small of your back for support. Use a footrest to elevate your feet slightly. Or, as Aditi, a lawyer, did, put a carton under the desk to rest your feet.

Concern 3

“Will carrying my three-year-old put further strain on my back?”

Yes, most definitely. Try to encourage your child to walk. For times when your child insists on being carried, bend at the knees, make sure your back is straight as possible, hold your child close to your body, and raise yourself slowly.

Weight lifting

Avoid lifting heavy objects, but if you must, lift them slowly. Steady yourself by assuming a wide stance; bend at the knees, not at the waist; keep your back straight and lift with your arms and legs, not your back.

Fit Tip

While carrying groceries, divide them into two shopping bags and carry them in each arm rather than in front of you.

Concern 4

“I feel a tugging pain in my lower back every time I try to get out of bed”

Sleep Soundly

A firm mattress will help relieve your back pain. If you don't have a firm mattress, put a piece of hardboard under your current mattress. Sleep on your side with your knees bent and place a pillow between them for support. When getting out of bed, swing your legs over the side of the bed to the floor rather than twisting to get up.

Fit Fact

Lying on your back puts 25 kg of pressure on your back. Placing a pillow under your knees cuts the pressure in half. Lying on your side with a pillow between your knees also reduces the pressure.

Concern 5

“I often feel exhausted by the end of the day, and my back feels the same. What are simple remedies to alleviate back stress?”

Pamper yourself

Get a therapeutic massage at least once a week. Ask your partner or a friend to massage your back — you now have a medical excuse to indulge in a regular back rub!

Warm up

Take a warm bath or enjoy a pulsating shower on your back. Use a warm water bottle on your back, hips or other sore spots to relieve pain.

Relax

Rest and relaxation can work wonders on your back pain. Many back problems are aggravated by stress, so, learn to relax. Try some relaxation exercises when pain strikes.

Stretch regularly

Stretching exercises can help ease back pain, but take care to choose stretches that lessen your symptoms and provide relief.

Caution

Always check with your physician before embarking on any exercise plan.

Cat-Camel Stretch

Get down on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Slowly round your back, tucking the tailbone under and then arch your back by drawing your tailbone up. Repeat five times.

Spinal Flexion

Sit forward on a chair with your feet on the ground. Move the knees apart and round your body forward, allowing your torso to pass between your legs. Repeat five times.

Spinal Rotation

Sit on a chair, reach one arm across your belly and grasp the opposite side of the chair. Look over your shoulder while rotating your lower and mid-back. Repeat five times each side

The writer is a certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist.