Back pain during pregnancy is normal, as the weight of the growing baby and foetus exerts pressure on the back. But back pain after delivery is also experienced by many women. Why does it happen? Is it normal? How long does postnatal back pain last? Let's find out.
When you see those two blue lines on the pregnancy stick, your level of happiness and anxiety knows no bound. For a few days, you simply cannot comprehend what to do or how to react. This is what it feels like when you are pregnant—you are happy and nervous at the same time. A few days later, reality sets in and you finally fathom the big truth of your life—‘you are going to have a baby and you just can’t afford to be your old carefree self’—so begin the days of morning sickness, nausea, mood swings, food cravings, aversions, abdominal cramps, and what not. By the time your due date approaches, you are so exhausted that you just want the baby to come out hoping that all those months of pain and uneasiness will vanish.
When you finally hold the baby in your arms for the first time, all your worries and discomfort disappear and you feel content...full. Post-delivery, the days of morning sickness and nausea will go away, but if you have the misconception that everything will be alright and you will be back to your normal self immediately, then you might be wrong. Post-delivery too, a woman’s body undergoes many changes. Women often complain of severe back pain after their delivery. The primary cause of back pain post-pregnancy is the change in a woman’s body during the nine months of pregnancy.
Why Does My Back Pain After Delivery?
Back pain usually starts when you reach the second trimester of your pregnancy. During this time, the baby grows rapidly in your womb and thus you feel pressure on your back. However, this pain is not merely limited to the pregnancy period, it may last from 6 months to one year after delivery. Let’s find out why you feel back pain after delivery.
One of the major reasons for back pain after delivery is changing hormones. When a woman is pregnant, her body releases progesterone and relaxin hormones that help loosen the joints and ligaments of the pelvic bone, and help the baby come out with ease. However, these hormones stay post-pregnancy too and thus lead to lower back pain.
A wrong posture while breastfeeding the baby strains the muscles and thus cause back pain post-delivery.
Expanding uterus during pregnancy is yet another cause of back pain post-delivery. As your uterus expands, there is extra strain on your abdominal muscles and lower back, hence you feel pressure on your back.
Being overweight is also a major culprit of back pain. Moreover, when you are pregnant, you put on additional weight, which only strains your knees and muscles, which then also results in lower back pain. When a woman is pregnant, she gains an additional weight which is supported by the spine, thus it can cause lower back pain. The weight of the growing baby and uterus also puts pressure on blood vessels and on back.
Lifting your baby for long intervals or bending frequently to lift him up can also put pressure on your back.
If you start strenuous exercises soon after the delivery, you may feel back pain.
How Long Does Postnatal Back Pain Last?
Back pain post delivery will not go away immediately. The pain lasts for at least 6 months post delivery. As relaxin hormones do not subside for a while, you feel back pain. Moreover, if you continue strenuous exercise post delivery, back pain may last for about a year.
Is it Serious?
Back pain is a common complaint during pregnancy and it may last from 6 months to 1 year post pregnancy. In the nine months of pregnancy, a woman faces the problem of loss in bone mineral density (BMD). This loss has been correlated to the occurrence of back pain symptoms during pregnancy. A study was conducted to determine if the persistence of back pain symptoms for 2 years after pregnancy could be correlated to changes in BMD. However, it was found that persistence of back pain symptoms after pregnancy could be related to an inability to recover fully from BMD loss during the index pregnancy (pregnancy under clinical study).
How to Treat Back Pain After Delivery
Back pain after delivery gradually wanes with time. However, there is always something that you can do to ease the pain:
Post-pregnancy, take as much rest as possible; don’t start exercising immediately as it will exert more pressure on your back. If you had a C-section delivery, then doctors usually suggest that you wait longer before you begin exercising.
Follow a healthy diet:
Once your baby arrives, you feel that you can eat your heart’s desire, but that’s not true. You will have to wait a little longer. To get back in shape and to keep your baby healthy you must follow a healthy diet. If need be, consult a nutritionist and get a diet chart and stick to it. If you want to get rid of back pain, you need to get back in shape and for that eating right is the only way to go.
Avoid lifting heavy objects after delivery, also refrain from weight training, as this will stress your joints and muscles. When picking up anything from the floor, bend at your knees and not at your waist. Even while lifting up your baby from the ground get into the kneeling position to pick him.
Get hot oil massage once a while; go for a professional massage if you can. Massages improve blood circulation and can help ease the back pain. If your back pain is not intense, you can even apply an ointment. Although back pain after delivery cannot be completely treated with an ointment.
Compress and Bath:
Try warm compress or cold compress to ease your back pain. Avoid taking bath with cold water for a few days after the delivery. Instead, take hot water baths as it will relax your strained muscles.
Here are some more tips to ease your back pain after delivery:
Sleep in a comfortable position; you can use a soft pillow for support.
Don’t wear high heels post-pregnancy.
Sit in a proper position; keep your back straight and do not bend when you breastfeed your baby.
Sit on a sturdy chair and use pillows to support your back. If your feet do not reach the ground, use a stool and place your feet on it.
Don’t carry your baby on one hip for too long as it will put pressure on your back muscles.
Use a front sling or wrap to carry your baby.
WATCH: How to Treat Back Pain after Delivery?
Key Takeaway: Know what causes back pain and how you can combat it:
Weight gain during pregnancy, breastfeeding and constantly bending over can all result in back pain.
To avoid back pain, maintain correct posture when breastfeeding, do not bend frequently.
Do Standing Bench Exercise to alleviate back pain: a. Stand on a non-slippery yoga mat and keep your feet hip-width apart. b. Place your hands on your buttocks; using your back muscles slowly bend backwards and slide your hands along the back of your thighs. c. Hold this position for 4 counts and slowly return to normal position. Do 10 reps of it.
When to See a Doctor?
Post-delivery, your back pain will subside in a matter of a few months. However, you need to visit a doctor if the following conditions persist:
If you feel numbness in your legs.
If the pain comes with a fever.
If even after 6 months there is no sign of improvement and the pain is getting more intense day after day.
If you feel uncoordinated, i.e. you fear that you may fall or trip.
Most pregnant women feel that all will be fine once the baby comes out. But the real struggle begins after you deliver the baby. Motherhood is surely a wonderful phase, it makes you anxious, happy, and tired – all at the same time.
But, as your child will achieve his development milestones, i.e. when he starts rolling over or crawling, you know your duties will increase. Taking care of the house and running after your child – all this will be hectic and your back pain will only aggravate. Therefore, it is important that you pay attention to your health. But if the pain still persists after a year or so, it is advised to consult a doctor.