Back aches are common during the last half of pregnancy and may continue into your first few months postpartum. The growing weight of the baby in your tummy causes understandable strain upon your back muscles. This pain can also cause poor sleep and worsen the exhaustion you’re already feeling towards the end of your pregnancy. Here are my tips for dealing with back aches during pregnancy.
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1 — use a hot water bottle or heat pad
My favourite way of dealing with back aches during pregnancy is a hot water bottle or a microwaveable heat pad. I’ll prop the heat pad behind me in a comfy chair or take it to bed with me at night. The heat usually works fairly quickly to ease my back pain.
2 — change your position
Often, my back starts aching because I’ve been doing one activity for too long. For example, maybe I’ve spent the day sitting in my chair blogging and homeschooling. My upper back usually begins to ache after a few hours, prompting me to move. Other times, if we’ve been out all day, my lower back will ache, letting me know I need to sit down and take it easy for a bit.
Pause to take note of what causes your back ache and see if a change in position will help it go away.
If you work in a job that requires sitting or standing all day, you may have to be more creative about changing position. Whether you are sitting or standing, you can also watch your posture (don’t slouch).
When I was pregnant with Sunshine, I brought an exercise ball to my office. The ball helped me maintain posture and move a little bit even while sitting, preventing back pain.
When I was pregnant with Lily, I worked at Starbucks as a barista. I made sure to sit down during my breaks. Cleaning or restocking let me squat, kneel, and move about in other ways that helped prevent back pain. You can also talk to your supervisor about using a stool or chair if you are going to be in one area (such as the cash register) for long periods.
3 — get a massage
I haven’t gotten a massage while pregnant, but this made a huge difference for me with postpartum back aches. (Yes, some aches and pains of pregnancy continue into the “fourth” trimester.) Ask your doctor or midwife if they can recommend a masseuse who specializes in pregnant patients.
You may be able to get your health insurance to cover your massage. Check with your insurance provider before booking your massage to see if you need a note from your doctor or midwife. You’ll also want to make sure you are seeing a registered massage therapist (RMT).
If you can’t get away for a massage, sign up for the MELT Massage Courses and use this time to bond with your hubby! It’ll give him something to do to help you and help him feel more involved with your pregnancy.
4 — take a homeopathic remedy
I avoid over-the-counter remedies when pregnant, but many homeopathic remedies are safe to take. For back pain, I’ve been taking arnica, which is also available as a gel or ointment (if you have someone who can rub your back for you). The National Center for Homeopathy also suggests sepia and other remedies, depending on the type of back pain you are experiencing. If you’ve never tried homeopathic remedies or aren’t sure which one is right for your back pain, see a homeopath.
5 — have a bath
Soaking in a hot aromatherapy bath can also help with muscle soreness. 1001 Natural Remedies suggests adding 5 drops each of marjoram, rosemary and lavender essential oils to 2 cups Epsom salts. The authors explain, “Epsom salts promote relaxation, marjoram helps relieve pain and is deeply relaxing; rosemary eases muscle stiffness; and lavender is both a mild antispasmodic and gentle sedative.” This can be a great way to relax and ease back pain at the end of the day, so that you get a better night’s sleep.
6 — exercise
Exercise can help prevent back pain by strengthening your back muscles. If you exercised regularly before getting pregnant, you can probably continue your exercise routine well into your pregnancy (check with your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns).
If you haven’t exercised until now, choose a gentle exercise (such as swimming or aquafit) or a pre-natal exercise class and ease yourself into the exercise. In her book The Mindful Mom-to-be, Doula Lori Bregman suggests month-by-month exercises to help with the various needs of your body throughout your pregnancy.
Recommended resources for natural remedies:
- 1001 Natural Remedies to help you avoid harmful chemicals
- Essential Oils: All-natural remedies and recipes for your mind, body and home
- The Mindful Mom-to-be
Did you experience back pain during your pregnancy? What tips would you share for dealing with back aches during pregnancy?
I am not a health care provider; these are simply remedies that have been recommended to me or that have worked for me. All opinions expressed are my own and I recommend talking to your doctor or midwife about your back pain.