A maternity or a pregnancy pillow is a specially designed body pillow to suit and support the changing curves of the body during pregnancy. This long pillow supports the entire body. And yes, they help reduce back pain of pregnancy to a large extent. Try a full-length pregnancy pillow. Sleep with this pillow on a bed keeping the arms wrapped around it.
Pregnancy is often a difficult time to fall asleep. A woman may have to pee repeatedly and hence, they have to get up many times, which disturbs sleep. Sometimes, pregnant women have vivid dreams that disturb sleep, and other times, it is the pesky back pain.
Approximately one-third of women experience severe back pain during pregnancy. It is thought to be due to the spine and ligaments getting lax in preparation for the pregnancy. The pregnancy pillows can be the savior during this time. These come in various shapes, sizes and textures. These can be bought online or visit a store nearby.
How to reduce back pain during pregnancy
Diagnosis of back pain during pregnancy is done through reviewing the patient’s medical history, conducting a physical examination and possibly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to rule out a herniated disk. After the appropriate diagnosis, patients are advised to follow a few conservative techniques that could ease their back pain. The measures include
- Focusing on maintaining a good posture when seated or standing.
- Avoiding standing for long periods.
- Squatting while picking up things instead of bending at the waist.
- Avoiding lifting heavy things.
- Wearing comfortable shoes that offer support.
- Sleeping on the side and not at the back, with the normal pillows tucked beneath the abdomen and between the knees for gentle support.
- Practicing pregnancy-safe exercises designed to strengthen and support the abdomen and back.
- As the abdomen grows, wearing a supportive garment or belt helps take some of the pressure off from the back.
- Reaching out to physical therapists or trained chiropractors who specialize in pregnancy-related care and learn more about how an adjustment can help relieve back pain.
- When seated, elevating the feet and making sure the chair offers good back support.
- Getting plenty of rest.
What causes back pain during pregnancy?
The cause of pregnancy-related back pain can be due to a combination of the following factors:
- Mechanical factors: Several possible mechanisms of injury could be causing pregnancy-related lower back pain. During pregnancy, changes occur in the facet joints, back muscles and ligaments. This is mainly caused by the increased release of the hormone relaxin, which causes ligament laxity. Therefore, this can affect the stability of the spine and lead to back pain.
- Hormonal factors: A significant portion of women first experience pain during the first trimester of pregnancy. It has been suggested that the hormone relaxin increases ten-fold in concentration during pregnancy, softening the collagen and causing ligamentous laxity and discomfort. The sacroiliac ligaments and other ligaments that surround the pelvic girdle become loose. This decreases the stability and brings on a potential strain in the pelvic girdle and lower back area.
- Circulatory factors: The expanding uterus can press on the vena cava, particularly at night when the patient is lying down. This leads to increased fluid retention and results in venous congestion and hypoxia in the pelvic and lumbar spine.
- Psychological factors: Psychosocial factors can also increase lower back pain. Pain-related catastrophizing, depression, pain intensity and time result in increased pain interference. Pain catastrophizing can be considered a risk factor in the third trimester of pregnancy.
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American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Back Pain During Pregnancy. May 2020. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/back-pain-during-pregnancy