women

‎Low Back Pain During Pregnancy

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Backache while you are pregnant is so common – but with good back hygiene pregnancy doesn’t have to be a pain in the, well...

Your baby at 5 months

Track your baby’s progress

Size: During this month your baby may grow from about 142g or about the size of a mango to, by the end of the month, match the size of a small doll – weighing about 450g and measuring about 20cm from crown to rump (head to bum).

Progress: This month kicks off a real growth spurt for your baby. Cells are dividing, expanding and maturing in every part of his body.

Body: Your baby’s mouth and nose are well developed. His hands and fingers are clearly visible and the nail beds have been laid down. His fingers will close if the palm of his hand is touched – he will even be able to suck his little thumb purposefully.

This month kicks off a real growth spurt for your baby.

This month kicks off a real growth spurt for your baby.

Your spine is a cleverly designed support system. Like the spine of a book it quite literally connects and holds the body together. Every muscle is directly or indirectly dependent on the spine in some way. When your back hurts, it affects many other parts of your body and can cause you to become tired, grumpy and generally not nice to be around. Anxiety and stress frequently manifest in our backs. Coping with life becomes difficult, never mind dealing with the added stress of a pregnancy.

The spine is not one straight rod, but has natural curves, which act as springs or shock absorbers as they absorb some of the impact of the body weight on the ground.

The spine is divided up into separate parts that each has its own characteristics and degree of mobility. First are the seven small vertebrae supporting the head and the neck – the top two allow us to rotate and nod our head.

Like the spine of a book it quite literally connects and holds the body together.

Like the spine of a book it quite literally connects and holds the body together.

Next are the 12 thoracic vertebrae to which the ribs are attached. Not much movement here, as these protect the lungs and the heart. The spine curves outwards here and can become prone to hunchback. There is a constant need to pull up and stand tall as far as this part of the back is concerned.

The five lumbar vertebrae carry the main weight of the body and are very mobile. There is a lot of stress and strain in this area which is susceptible to pain and injury, and is most prone to disc problems. During pregnancy it can become exaggerated and strained.

The pregnant back

Now that you understand the spine you are able to understand why backache during pregnancy is more likely to occur. There is a natural tendency to sway back onto your heels as your center of gravity moves. As your uterus and baby grow they put pressure on the main supporters of the back, the abdominal muscles.

If these are weak and give way it will allow an exaggerated curve in the lumbar area, which means the natural curve will be more pronounced and there will be more pressure in this area. (Y our pelvis is tipping forward and your buttocks are popping outward exaggerating the slight figure S your spine usually has.) It can hurt across your shoulders, because of the forward pull of your breasts and the poking forward of your chin. Your rib cage is under pressure from your slouching shoulders and chest, so breathing becomes more difficult. A weakened pelvic floor and short, tight hamstring muscles will also play their part in adding to the strain your back is taking.

As your uterus and baby grow they put pressure on the main supporters of the back, the abdominal muscles.

As your uterus and baby grow they put pressure on the main supporters of the back, the abdominal muscles.

Mechanically, all this is happening, while hormonally other things are going on. The hormones are responsible for causing the strong ligaments that support these muscles to soften and loosen.

Relaxing is the main culprit here, as it prepares the pelvis to relax and accommodate your growing baby as well as open up a thoroughfare during labor and delivery. As well as adding to your backache woes, it can make you feel a little unsteady on your feet and a bit clumsy as you go about your normal daily activities.

Back to basics

The first step in caring for our backs is basic maintenance. Maintaining a healthy back is easier than you think and the rewards are great. This is not only essential during pregnancy, but should be continued for life. The benefits are numerous to both body and mind.

Consider these few points when thinking about back basics

·         Posture: Yes you hate the word, but it is the first and foremost point that needs to be addressed when dealing with back pain. Bad posture does not only give you a pain in the neck (and back) but also affects breathing, joint pain, rib discomfort, circulation and contributes to sore feet and fatigue. Bad posture means that your body is not “stacked” the way it should be, and some muscles are overstraining while others are too loose and relaxed. There is imbalance.

·         Exercise: Another word you love to hate – second only to posture when treating and dealing with backache. In this way muscles retain their tone and elasticity so that they fully support the spine. Strong abdominal muscles will work in harmony to further support your back. As a result the lightness in the chest relieves the overworked lumbar spine and decreases breathlessness. The benefits of exercise are well known, and it is a pity that we do not do more of it. We tend rather to put things onto or into our bodies.

The benefits of exercise are well known, and it is a pity that we do not do more of it.

The benefits of exercise are well known, and it is a pity that we do not do more of it.

·         Environment: Try checking your environment to see that working surfaces, car seats, wash basins and cupboards are correctly placed and comfortable for you. Are your pillows and bed comfortable, and do they support you properly?

·         Body awareness: Be aware of anything, which may aggravate your back. For example, do you hold the telephone in the crook of your neck? Do you drive with the window open or the air-conditioner blowing on one side of your body? Do you slouch when you sit? Do you stand for long periods of time and are your shoes the correct height?

Do you drive with the window open or the air-conditioner blowing on one side of your body?

Do you drive with the window open or the air-conditioner blowing on one side of your body?

Top tips

1.    Enroll in a prenatal exercise class that focuses on building the strength and suppleness of the pregnant body.

2.    Change your environment to ease the workload on your back.

3.    Think posture, posture, and posture all the time.

4.    Massage is a wonderful way to ease pain and tension in an aching back.

5.    Use heat to ease any spasm you may suffer from.

6.    Visit an osteopath, chiropractor or physiotherapist for treatments if the pain is intolerable.

7.    Maintain excellent nutrition. This will boost your energy levels.

8.    Lastly, don’t take your back for granted. It is the coat hanger that your body clings to, so take good care of it. It cannot be replaced.

 

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