Healing Lower Back Pain After Pregnancy

low back pain

Lower back pain is a really common issue, no matter your age or gender. I started having an achy lower back at a young age, largely due to my posture and spinal curvature, and it was exacerbated by certain activities (longer distance running is one, and sitting at a computer for long periods is another).

As many pregnant or once-pregnant women can attest to, pregnancy is not kind to the low back. Even women with zero prior history can experience this as their tummies grow. Like many pregnancy-related ailments though, it’s supposed to go away when you’re done being pregnant. Except, for many women it doesn’t.

Babies don’t sit at eye level with you, and now you have a gorgeous little creature that needs 24/7 care, and you are constantly bending and lifting while changing diapers, bathing the baby, etc. Nursing mothers in particular can experience back (and neck) pain.

If you’ve experienced lower back pain, you probably know some of the causes. A lot of sitting, poor posture and/or poor muscle tone and core strength are often the issue. How can you fix it? Well, for starters, use common sense. If you think you need to see a medical doctor, please do so. Not all back problems are ones that can be fixed at home.

For starters, try to stay mindful of your posture. When you’re standing, think about your shoulders. Are they squared back? Is your butt in line with and directly underneath your shoulders? Are you holding a lot of tension in your shoulders and hunching them (nursing moms in particular can get knotty here)? Back up against a wall and see how straight you’re standing. A mirror or a selfie can also help you adjust, and if you feel you need, you can set reminders in your phone to do a self-check through the day. Likewise, when your baby is hungry, it’s easy to breastfeed wherever you happen to be. It may be in your back’s best interest, however, to try and get to a glider chair or other supportive seat and be mindful of your posture while your baby nurses as well.

Core strength is the root of many lower back issues. The pelvic floor muscles, which act as the inner core (versus your outer core, which are the muscles you see when you see a six-pack), take a major beating during pregnancy and delivery. When they are weak or dysfunctional, your whole body suffers (this is true for everybody, from sedentary people all the way to athletes). YouTube has a lot of content like this set of exercises that can help you get those muscles back into shape. Planks are also a great total core workout, and can be done literally anywhere, even with your kids crawling around. Different sports are also good for building core strength; paddling and rowing are terrific for your core, and there are tons of dragon boat, outrigger and crew clubs across the U.S. and Canada for adults, no experience necessary.

Before starting any abdominal strengthening exercises though, you need to be aware of diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles that is caused by pregnancy. If you think you have this condition, you should not be doing abdominal work without consulting a doctor and probably a physical therapist as well. This is a tough condition to heal and will take some time and effort to do so.

Meaghan Howard is currently a stay-at-home mom and enjoying living overseas with her husband and two young children. She enjoys traveling, running, and the most excellent sport of all time, dragon boat.

 

 

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