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10 Ways to Relieve Pregnancy Back Pain

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    intro In a recent study, more than 2/3 of women said they suffered from lower back pain at some point after the first trimester. Though back pain can get bad enough to require medical intervention, it’s usually somewhere between a minor and major annoyance. Here are 10 things you can do to prevent and manage the pain at home.

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    1: Wear the right shoes

    Wear the right shoes Stiletto fans, we’re talking to you. High heels throw your back out of alignment as your body tries to balance the additional weight of your belly on stilts. They also increase the risk of falls or near falls, which can strain your back further (and could be dangerous). The healthiest footwear choices during pregnancy are low-heeled and supportive — not optimal for fashion, but best for comfort and safety.

    Pregnancy + Heels = Trouble

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    2: Try support garments

    Try support garments Back pain is often caused by pressure on the back from the weight of the belly. Support garments can help compensate for that weight by supporting the back muscles. Sometimes an over-belly panel can be enough to make a difference, but there are many strengths of support available, from firm shapewear to more constructed support belts that strap around the waist and lower back.

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    3: Practice good posture

    Practice good posture Adjusting the way you stand and walk can make a huge difference in how your back feels. Generally, you want to stand straight, but avoid thrusting your belly out and forcing the lower back to work harder. Good posture is about engaging your core muscles in the right way. Ask your OB or midwife for advice on how to stand most comfortably or try a session with a physical therapist or personal trainer who works with pregnant clients.

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    4: Squat, don’t bend over

    Squat, don’t bend over Bending from the waist strains the lower back even when you’re not pregnant. Add 15-30 pounds to that equation and you’ve got the potential for some serious back pain. Squatting allows your legs and butt to bear the brunt of that weight instead. (You’ll also get a little lower body workout in the process!)

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    5: Stretch out

    Stretch out One of the best stretches for your lower back is the yoga position known as “child’s pose.” But your pregnant belly will get in the way, so try this mama’s variation: Kneel on the ground with your knees opened. Lean forward so your head and/or arms are resting on the ground in front of you. Stretch your arms further to open up your back more. Do this move — or any back stretch — slowly and gently to avoid pulling muscles.

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    6: Strengthen your core

    Strengthen your core The idea that women shouldn’t work their abdomens during pregnancy is a myth. No, classic crunches aren’t a good idea, but pregnancy-safe core strengthening can be helpful for everything from back pain to childbirth to postpartum recovery. To learn which exercises are appropriate for pregnancy, try a prenatal pilates class, DVD or book. You can also look for another pregnancy-specific exercise class and ask the instructor for advice on core exercises you can do at home.

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    7: Exercise regularly

    Exercise regularly Exercise has been shown to reduce pregnancy back pain as well as stress, which can cause or exacerbate back pain. Prenatal yoga or other prenatal exercise classes can even be tailored to help relieve your back pain. Prenatal classes are popping up everywhere these days, but if you can’t find one near you or prefer privacy, you can find DVDs or online versions of prenatal workouts. In addition, non-prenatal exercises like swimming and walking can be equally good for keeping back pain at bay.

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    8: Sleep well

    Sleep well It’s hard to find a comfortable sleeping position when pregnant, especially one that won’t make you wake up aching. Everyone’s body is different, but generally you’ll want to align your body and distribute the weight evenly. When sleeping on your side, use a firm pillow between your knees to support that side of your body and keep your spine aligned. Some women also like a pillow under their belly, and you may want to increase the padding on your bed to decrease the pressure on your hips (which can, in turn, affect your back).

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    9: Get a massage

    Get a massage If you’re already suffering from back pain, you’ve got a built-in excuse for a prenatal massage. Massages can also prevent future back pain because they reduce stress and muscle tension, two big back pain triggers. Some pregnancy massage experts do not recommend tables with belly cut-outs for women with back pain as they can actually strain the lower back. But a good massage therapist should be able to work on your back from a side-lying position while supporting
    your belly.

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    10: Consider alternative therapies

    Consider alternative therapies Chiropractic care and acupuncture are both safe during pregnancy if the provider is trained and experienced in prenatal work. Many women have found relief with these modalities of care and others outside the model of traditional western medicine. If you find a care model that you’d like to try, it’s a good idea to check it out with your primary prenatal care provider first. This may not be her area of expertise, but it’s important to keep her in the loop.

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