Back Pain During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Doesn’t Have to Hurt!

Pregnancy Doesn’t Have to Hurt!

This scene always makes me laugh! It makes me equally sad at the same time. It seems like whenever women are being honest about their pregnancies, it comes across as though we are destined to turn into waddling, uncomfortable complainers.

Here’s the thing: Pregnancy doesn’t have to feel terrible.

I’d like to introduce myself to you, the Healthy Moms Community. My name is Shaila Callaghan and I am a Prenatal and Pediatric Chiropractor. Helping women have comfortable, healthy, enjoyable pregnancies is what I pride myself on. I will be doing a series of blogs for you moms, but I figured I’d start by talking about what I see and get asked about most: back pain during pregnancy.

Growing a new human is no easy feat. Our bodies change more during these 9 months than at any other time in our lives. When we become pregnant, the size and structure of our brain begins to change and our body follows suit. Here are some of the major changes that occur in our bodies when we are pregnant:

1. Hormones

While we are pregnant, our estrogen and relaxin hormones increase. Together, these hormones cause the softening and elongation of our body’s supporting structures, such as our ligaments. This tissue relaxation is important! It allows our bodies to grow to support a fetus and enables us the ability and flexibility to deliver our babies naturally.

In a perfect world, these hormones would affect only the joints of the pelvis, where they are most needed. Of course, the world is far from perfect, and these hormones take their effect on every joint in the body, causing them to move beyond their normal ranges of motion.

When joints are overly soft and loose, it increases the chance for injury and can lead to pain and discomfort. Headaches, upper back pain, lower back pain, pubic symphysis pain, rib discomfort and hip pain are all possible and common symptom patterns with respect to these hormonal changes.

Although relaxin increases most during the first trimester, its levels will remain high throughout pregnancy and for up to 3 months postpartum, or, if you choose to breastfeed your baby, up to 3 months after finishing nursing. This means that any associated symptoms associated with the reduced stability of our joints lasts well beyond the 9 month duration of our pregnancies.

2. Changes in Your Posture

As if the hormonal effects on our bodies (not to mention our emotions!) weren’t enough, these effects compound as our bellies grow. A pregnant woman’s growing belly causes a forward shift in her centre of gravity. The natural and normal curves of our spine shift to account for the new human on board and, due to this change, the joints of the spine, pelvis, and all the muscles and ligaments associated will experience increased strain. Add weight gain and the stretching and weakening of abdominal muscles and it’s no wonder that most studies show that 50 - 80% of women will experience back pain during their pregnancy, with upwards of 35% of those affected still feeling it at 6 months postpartum.

3. Your Body is Making Room For Your Baby

As your pregnancy progresses, your pelvic floor will drop and the increasing weight of your baby will start to impact your pelvic structures. In particular, sciatic nerve compression, round ligament tension and pubic symphysis pain all fall into this category and are more common later on in pregnancy.

What I want all of you to understand from this article is that your body is amazing. It adapts and changes in so many ways to be able to create life and, in most cases, this can lead to various aches and pains. Now you know why! You may not have the best 9 months of your life, but I know for a fact that it doesn’t have to be your worst, either. In my coming articles, I hope to pass on some tips to help make your pregnancy awesome and provide you with some information on why so many moms and dads bring their kids in for chiropractic care.

Sheila Callaghan is a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor and the owner of Vita Brain + Body KIDS, where Healthy Moms cardholders can receive an initial exam for $49 ($135 value) and 10% off ongoing appointments. Find out more here:


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