Beating backache in pregnancy

Back pain is one of the most common complaints in pregnancy. About 70 per cent of expectant mothers experience some degree of it.

The increase in weight can cause back strain which is often worsened by poor posture. Add to that the fact that you are walking in a different way and your hormones are relaxing the muscles and ligaments throughout your body. This can result in especially painful backache in the latter stages of pregnancy.

The good news is you do not have to grin and bear it. There are many ways in which you can prevent it or treat it should you fail to stave it off.

For a start, forget vanity and cast those killer heels aside, at least until your baby is born. Shops have an extensive selection of fashionable flats or low heeled shoes. These will be much more comfortable and will not put extra stress on your back.

When shopping try to avoid carrying heavy bags. If you must make sure you balance the weight between both arms. If you find going to the shops too much of a chore enlist the help of a willing friend or family member. Or think about having your weekly shop delivered to your door. The benefits will tell on your face and back!

Cavernous sacks

Many women tend to carry everything but the kitchen sink in their shoulder bags. Abandon those cavernous sacks and opt instead for a smaller bag, ideally with the strap running diagonally over the body.

Housework can be unappealing at the best of times and pregnancy does not put an extra gloss on it. Try to sit down as much as possible, literally to take the weight off your feet. If it is not convenient to sit down while ironing you could try standing at the ironing board with one foot raised on a low stool.

Do not get over zealous and overdo it on the work front or you will feel the strain later. When vacuuming do not aim to do the whole house in one go. Take it easy, listen to your body and stop before your muscles begin to ache.

Avoid lifting heavy furniture, if at all possible. If you need to lift something bend from the knees and keep your back straight. Do not bend over. If you find it difficult to wash your hair towards the end of your pregnancy try kneeling on the floor beside the bath or shower and using the shower head or a hand held shampoo spray.

When you are sitting down watching television or relaxing avoid the urge to slouch. Sitting up straight is better for your back. Make yourself more comfortable by tucking a cushion or pillow against the hollow of your back.

Chairs with arm rests are ideal for expectant mothers. The seat height should be such that your feet are firmly on the ground when sitting down with your knees slightly bent.

Sitting cross legged on the floor can be very comfortable too and is an excellent way of naturally straightening your spine.

Towards the end of pregnancy may women find it increasingly difficult to get out of bed, not to mention, sleep while they are in it. A clever way to get up is to roll over onto one side, bend your knees a little and push yourself up with your hands and arms. At the same time swing your legs off the bed in one movement.

Exercise will help you stay fit and healthy. However, do not embark on a vigorous work-out programme. Gentle exercise will ensure you stay supple and well toned. Walking and swimming are ideal activities for pregnant women.

If backache strikes there are a number of ways in which you can help yourself:-

1. Indulge yourself with a pleasantly scented bath.

2. Put your feet up higher than your head.

3. Visit a physiotherapist or try alternative treatment from an osteopath or chiropractor.

Here are some tips to help keep backache at bay:-


* Your mattress should be firm but not hard. It should be soft enough to allow your spine to retain its natural shape.

* Do not use a large pillow which tilts your head forward. Avoid using too many pillows also because they may twist your neck. A polyester/feather (avoid the latter if you are an asthmatic ) pillow is best because it conforms to the shape of your neck.

* If you have backache try sleeping on your side in a modified foetal position. Rest your head on a relatively flat pillow and put a thin pillow between your knees.


* Lifting the wrong way can cause backache. Always stand close to the object, squat down, get a firm grip and raise smoothly by stretching the knees and keeping the spine straight

* Check that working surfaces are high enough so you avoid bending

* When carrying bags make sure the weight is evenly distributed

* Know your limits. Ask for help if you need it


* Sit upright while on the telephone. Do not cradle it between your head and shoulder.

* Avoid sitting for long periods by standing up often and bending your legs slightly forward

* Choose a comfortable seat which keeps your hips above your knees.

* Sit up straight with a cushion behind your back

* Keep your feet on the floor while sitting

When baby is born

* Make sure your back is well supported when feeding your baby

* Change your baby on a surface which is the right height for you. Do not bend and stoop over your child

* Lying on your side is a particularly comfortable way to breastfeed if your back aches. Try your pelvic tilting while you feed

* If feeding while sitting place a cushion behind your waist and a pillow on your lap. Sit well back in the chair. Have a low stool for your feet.

* When lifting your child from floor level always bend at the knees

* Do not stand with your baby resting on one hip, get a sling instead.


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