You’re pregnant, “Congratulations” on your expected little one! What an exciting and busy time — its a shame that pain has to slow you down. You’re not alone, however, 24-90% of pregnant women experience lumbopelvic pain during their pregnancy, which is a broad term for either pelvic girdle or low back pain. For most women, the pain will go away after they give birth, but one-third of women may still have pain 1 year after delivering. Many women decide to seek medical help during weeks 34-40 of pregnancy, and many OB’s will refer them to Physical Therapy.
What can Physical Therapy offer? Treatment may include: exercise, eduction, manual therapy, bracing, and/or a combination of the above. Exercise can decrease pain, reduce sick-leave (for pregnancy related low back and pelvic girdle pain), and improve overall function. The best exercises are ones that strengthen the spinal muscles (AKA core strengthening) and the pelvic floor muscles. Water aerobics, general strength training, endurance exercises (walking, swimming), and balance work are also effective. If you are experiencing pregnancy related pain a Physical Therapist can help tailor a program specifically for you, and they may determine if other treatments such as bracing or manual therapy, may be helpful.
Try these exercises at home:
– Lift your buns in the air (not too high)
– Tighten your tummy muscles like you are hugging your baby with your abdominals
– Try to keep your hips and back still, movement only with the abdomen
– It’s easiest to start laying on your back in a comfortable position, but you can do these sitting, standing, or laying down
– Pretend like you are stopping a flow of urine and hold your pelvic floor muscles for at least 5 seconds
– You can do these in any position and nobody will know!
– Take the small of your back and gently press it down to the floor below you
– Kneeling on all 4’s, extend your opposite arm and leg (you may want to start with legs only)
How many should I do, and for how long?
You can start with 5 repetitions of each exercise, holding for 5 seconds, 5 times per day
OTHER HELPFUL TIPS:
– Change position every 20 minutes: if sitting, stand up — if standing, sit down
– Don’t cross your legs while sitting — maintain good, upright posture!
– Wear comfortable shoes without a heel
– Invest in a pregnancy pillow and sleep on your side hugging the pillow with your knees: Leachco’s Snoogle and Back ‘n Belly are popular (http://leachco.stores.yahoo.net/formom.html)
– Consider a maternity belt: ‘Gabrialla’ makes elastic supports