Women experience pregnancy back pain for a variety of reasons. Some point to an increase in the hormone relaxin, which allows for ligaments and joints to relax in preparation for birth. Others blame the increase in weight coupled with the altered center of gravity. And a few assign responsibility to a culture that promotes lack of movement and poor posture.
In this post we will dive in and discuss the causes and a variety of natural remedies for pregnancy back pain. Let’s get started!
Natural Remedies for Pregnancy Back Pain
Move Smart, Rest Smart
One reason women experience pregnancy back pain is because our culture does a lot of sitting or standing but very little of the kind of movement that keeps us healthy and strong. With the added stress of pregnancy, our atrophied bodies balk and pain is the result.
To remedy the underlying issue, I recommend three resources.
In these DVDs you will learn how to move, improve posture and strengthen the body so that pregnancy back pain is a thing of the past. These DVDs are for anyBODY – pregnant or not. I especially enjoyed the Healthy Pelvis DVD as part of my regimen to heal my Diastasis Recti.
Amazon link to Daily Movement ——> http://amzn.to/2odrKEG
Amazon link to Healthy Pelvis ——> http://amzn.to/2oRcMoV
3 Spinning Babies’ Daily Essentials DVD
The Spinning Babies’ Daily Essential DVD is specifically designed for pregnant women in order to have a comfortable pregnancy and easier birth.
The Daily Essentials DVD teaches pregnant women how to move AND rest smart which encourages body balance and alignment. When a woman’s body is balanced and aligned birth is generally more straightforward.
Also included is a Blooma gentle yoga flow. I highly recommend this resource!
Another effective remedy for pregnancy back pain is exercise. Exercise has MANY benefits besides ridding a woman of pain during pregnancy, so it’s like killing 10,000 birds with one stone.
The following are some great ideas for gentle pregnancy exercise. Of course, talk with your care provider to make sure that a particular exercise is the right choice for you and your baby.
- Squatting (It can often relieve back pain almost instantly – it’s amazing!)
- Walking (of course, with good posture… the above mentioned Daily Essential’s DVD will teach you how to do this)
- Yoga (here’s one of many great options)
Stretching the whole body, not just the back, is an excellent remedy for pregnancy back pain. It can be extremely helpful to implement a quick yet effective stretching routine every morning after getting out of bed.
TIP: The Daily Essentials DVD mentioned above has great instructions for getting out of bed while pregnant to avoid injury.
Here are some fun stretches you can do in any trimester of pregnancy:
- Calf stretch with a half dome (this stretch is further explained in the Healthy Pelvis DVD above)
- Pelvic tilts (aka cat and cow)
- Downward facing dog
- Hip flexor stretch (I found a bunch of great videos on YouTube about this: here, here and here.)
Foam rolling can help release lower back and hip pressure and therefore help alleviate pregnancy back pain. Watch the video below to see what I’m talking about.
According to Diary of a Fit Mommy, “kinesiology tape facilitates the body’s natural healing process and range of motion by providing support and stability to muscles and joints, improving blood flow, reducing pain and swelling and controlling inflammation.”
Check out her post because she goes into great detail about where to place the kinesiology tape during pregnancy.
TIP: You can buy kinesiology tape on Amazon. I’m partial to the pink. 😉
A Note About Tiger Balm
On the back of the jar it suggests to ask a physician before use while pregnant or breastfeeding, but I have a hard time imagining a care provider OK’ing it for their patient (mainly because they simply don’t know).
The ingredients in Tiger Balm that may not be safe during pregnancy are camphor and clove oils. Cloves are ok during pregnancy, but clove essential oil is to be avoided. I’m not exactly sure what strength the Tiger Balm’s clove oil is, and their website doesn’t hint at it either.
According to Demetria Clark’s book Aromatherapy and Herbal Remedies for Pregnancy, Birth and Breastfeeding, camphor is even more of a mixed bag. Some sources say it’s ok and others say it’s toxic and unsafe. Also, some animal studies show camphor has had toxic effects on the embryo.
What do I think? I have a hunch that Tiger Balm is possibly OK used in moderation during the third trimester, but again, my opinion is just non-medical mom-to-mom advice. If you want a solid opinion, talk to your care provider… or local midwife/herbalist.
Another natural remedy for pregnancy back pain is the application of mild heat. Here are a few simple ways to apply heat during pregnancy.
- A rice sock
- A heating pad (here are great instructions for how to use a heating pad in pregnancy)
- Hot water bottle
- Heated seats in a vehicle (just turn the a/c on if it’s hot outside)
- Shower and/or bath
TIP: Using heat is helpful for back labor too!
Hire a Professional to Eliminate Pregnancy Back Pain
A chiropractor is a trained doctor that adjusts the spine and surrounding muscles to improve alignment and therefore alleviate pregnancy back pain. Once the spine is in alignment, the body is able to function optimally, heal itself and tight muscles will be less likely to pull joints out of alignment.
But come to find out, chiropractic care is so much more than that! I asked my friend Dr. Isaac Montilla, a chiropractor in my community, and this is what he said about how chiropractic care can help with pregnancy back pain.
“Chiropractic care de-stresses the body as a whole, which is helpful for pregnancy, labor and postpartum. When the body is not under stress, it will adapt better in order to do what it needs to do (grow and birth a healthy baby). If her body remains out of alignment it will overcompensate, which leads to ligament issues, hormonal imbalances and instability. The nervous system controls everything in the body and the spine is a huge part of it.”
A physical therapist is a trained practitioner that designs a program of exercises and assists in certain movements and massage techniques to relieve pain and restore strength and mobility.
I asked my friend Dr. Brandon Alkire, a physical therapist in my community, his thoughts on how PT would help pregnancy back pain.
“Back pain and pregnancy seem to go hand in hand and not all back pains are created equal. Whether it is just achy muscles that need some TLC, or a problem with a disk in the spinal cord, or just muscles not quite holding you up like they used to, your physical therapist help find and treat the cause. Along the way you’ll learn some skills to help you get stronger, sleep better and just feel better through birth and beyond. (PS – Physical therapists do postpartum stuff too, like pelvic health, strength and conditioning.”
Prenatal massage is not a luxury! Especially during pregnancy, it can be absolutely necessary. While it may feel luxurious, massage works out the kinks that are causing pregnancy back pain. Sweet relief!
(Prenatal massage is one of the happiest things on my ultimate FUN second trimester checklist.)
Massage has many benefits, not just pain relief. According to Massage Magazine it “soothes and relaxes the nervous system by releasing endorphins into the mother’s body. As a result, the expectant mother feels more relaxed and at ease, and will also sleep more easily and more deeply.”
Massage in combination with chiropractic care is even better!
“Massage therapy can aid in chiropractic care, acting like a “warm-up” for the body prior to the adjustment. Adjustments last longer when muscle tension is released – tight muscles pull joints out of alignment, and massage therapy would address that issue directly. In turn, chiropractic care addresses misalignments which gives immediate relief to the soft tissue massage therapy specifically prioritizes. Soft tissue heals quicker once the joints have been restored to proper position.” (source)
Acupuncture is a technique derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine where tiny needles are (mostly) painlessly inserted into the skin, stimulating different points along the body. It unblocks the body’s energy, or chi, allowing the body to heal itself.
As abstract as that may sound, according to one study, acupuncture was shown to relieve low-back and pelvic pain without serious adverse effects in late pregnancy.
It works, ya’ll!
Preterm Labor Symptoms
Of course, this blog post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share with you symptoms of preterm labor. I would hate for you to think you simply had pregnancy back pain when you were actually in labor!
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms before 37 weeks contact your care provider immediately.
- bloody mucus
- back ache
- loose stools
- abnormal pelvic pressure
- gush of fluid from vagina
- position changes don’t stop contractions
- contractions get more intense and closer together
(Obviously, if your back hurts it doesn’t mean you’re in labor. But if you are having some of the other symptoms along with back labor contact your care provider ASAP!)
If you are 37 weeks or more, check out these signs of labor to determine if it’s baby time or not.
Natural Remedies for Pregnancy Back Pain
Just to recap, these are a few natural remedies for pregnancy back pain.
- Nutritious Movement Daily Movement DVD
- Nutritious Movement Healthy Pelvis DVD
- Spinning Babies Daily Essentials DVD
- Foam Roller
- Kinesiology Tape
- Tiger Balm (possibly)
- Chiropractic Care
- Physical Therapy
- Massage Therapy
- Acupuncture Treatment
Leave me a comment and let the Mother Rising community know what worked for you to resolve pregnancy back pain naturally. Thank you!