According to "Your Pregnancy Week by Week", between 50 and 80 percent of all pregnant women have back and hip pain at some time. Pain usually occurs during the third trimester as your tummy expands (perhaps beyond what you thought possible).
With that said, it’s common for pain to start earlier in your pregnancy and last until after bubba’s arrival.
So What’s the Culprit?
In addition to things like the extra weight, bigger boobs, and a beautiful bulging belly changing your posture, the hormone relaxin may be part of the recipe for back pain. It’s a fantastic little hormone that allows your pelvis to expand to deliver your baby by relaxing your joints.
Thanks to this handy hormone and the flexibility in the joint it causes, your posture can get completely out of whack and cause problems - particularly in the lower back during the final stretch (I couldn’t resist) of pregnancy.
In addition to the above factors, the growth of the uterus changes your center of gravity. It moves forward, over your legs, which can upset the hips and the joints in the pelvis.
A little bit of pain is normal, but definitely chat with your doc or midwife about anything that concerns you — better to be safe than sorry.
What Can You Do to Help It?
In addition to practicing good posture, icing or heating the painful area, resting on your side, and prenatal massage, exercise is a great way to help alleviate the discomfort.
Swimming, walking, and prenatal yoga are all great options. Here are the top three poses for yoga for pregnancy back pain:
1. Balancing the Cat
Come onto all fours like you would setting up for Cat/Cow. Warm up with a few rounds, moving lightly with the breath, careful not to overstretch the abdominals in Cow. Keep your back neutral as you take your navel in and up.
Extend your left leg behind you, in line (not above or below) with your hip. Simultaneously, extend your right arm level with your right shoulder. Reach with purpose — equally — in opposite directions. Flex your toes toward your face. Hold for 5-6 breaths, then switch sides.
Repeat 5 times on each side. This will help strengthen the back muscles (as well as legs, arms and glutes) to better support the growing belly.
2. Extended Side Angle
This is one of my all time favorite poses for pregnancy. When there is very little room in the torso thanks to that beautiful bundle of joy, lengthening the side body can give you that feeling of space and length.
It strengthens the legs, ankles, calfs, quads, and glutes, and it stretches the groin, the spine, the shoulders, the waist, and stimulates the abdominal organs. One of the most beneficial therapies for back pain is in fact strengthening it, so pop into this pose and hold for 5-6 breaths on each side.
Imagine there is one long line of energy from your extended middle finger out through the knife edge of your back foot.
Remember to modify for the bulging belly — rest your front elbow on your front knee, and use the wall for added stability as needed. Listen to your body, and only do what is nourishing.
3. Seated Modified Easy Twist
While closed twisting isn’t recommended in pregnancy, you can reap the benefits of a twist for your back with a few modifications. Take it easy, and don’t push yourself.
Sit in a comfortable position like Easy Pose with your knees bent and ankles crossed. Sit up straight, send your shoulders down and back, chest proud.
Take your right hand to your left knee and left hand behind your spine for support. Inhale as the crown of your head reaches high into the sky, exhale as you twist very lightly to the left.
Hold for a few breaths, exhale to unwind the twist, and repeat on the other side. Twists are detoxifying and allow the spine to fully articulate. It’s important when pregnant not to twist deeply, so again, take it easy with this modified twist.
While back pain in pregnancy is pretty much inevitable, strengthening the spine and muscles in the back with poses like these will help alleviate some of the discomfort associated with growing another human!
Find a qualified prenatal yoga teacher to explore additional poses that will not only help with back pain, but will prepare you for labor, delivery, and carrying around a baby all day.