Almost half of the pregnant population suffer with some degree of discomfort in the lower back. This is most often caused by the changes in posture associated with pregnancy and the growing weight of the baby.
Your tummy muscles and pelvic floor muscles are stretched and become weak. The arch in your lower back increases and your pelvis tilts forward as it takes the weight of the baby. The lower back muscles become short and tight and the new “lordotic” posture is kept for a long period of time.
This posture can lead to back ache which can increase to a severe ache or burning, especially during prolonged positions such as standing and sitting.
It is important to take care of the lower back in pregnancy. It is important to keep the “Core Muscles” strong and the lower back muscles stretched and flexible. Antenatal exercise classes can help restore a good posture and teach you how to perform these essential exercises correctly. Classes such as Pilates or Yoga may be best suited for this but aqua natal classes can be very good at combining appropriate exercises with fitness training also.
The “Pelvic Tilt” exercise is the most appropriate exercise to do at home. It will stretch the lower back and strengthen the tummy and pelvic floor.
The exercise can be done in lying, sitting, standing or even on your hands and feet.
Sitting on a gym ball can provide a flexible option to the exercise but make sure you can balance on the ball first. Try to repeat this exercise 10 times in a row, moving slowly and controlled as best you can. It may be sore to begin with but as you continue, your back should loosen and ease. Repeating this exercise after a period of prolonged sitting or standing is advised.
It may be best to sit on the ball in the corner of a room and use the two walls to support you as you complete the exercise. When you feel more confident, you can let go of the walls.
Physiotherapy treatment in pregnancy will commonly involve similar exercises aimed at restoring a normal posture. Sometimes a pelvic and back support belt is advised.
These are no longer provided by the Physiotherapists but you can purchase them from Mothercare, Promedics or Physio-Med. Your Physiotherapist will be able to advise which belt is most suitable for your symptoms.
It is important to note that if your pain is worst when you are seated, a support belt may not be suitable as they can compress your tummy and groin, making you feel uncomfortable.