Postpartum Back Pain: Causes and Relief
“I have back pain after delivery” – such a complaint, unfortunately, can often be heard from young mothers. Do not ignore unpleasant symptoms, considering them a normal consequence of an experienced pregnancy and childbirth. All changes in the woman’s body during the bearing of the baby are provided by nature and theoretically should be painless and reversible. If you have back pain after childbirth, there is definitely a reason for this. Let’s see what causes uncomfortable sensations in various areas of the back and how to deal with it.
Causes of back pain after childbirth
There are many causes of back pain in the postpartum period. First of all, these are problems with the spine that existed before pregnancy, and the woman might not even know about them. Pregnancy and childbirth provoke an aggravation of minor deviations, and as a result, pain appears. During pregnancy, the body undergoes many changes: from obvious (increase in body weight and a shift in the center of gravity) to hidden – hormonal changes, displacement of internal organs and bones, softening of cartilage joints. Childbirth, even without surgery and anesthesia, can cause various deformations and pinching in the spine. And caring for a newborn often becomes that “last straw”, which leads to a sharp deterioration in the condition of the back.
After childbirth, natural changes in the body occur in the reverse order. The body again gets used to its normal mass, muscles recover, the center of gravity changes, the level of progesterone decreases, which accordingly leads to a decrease in the elasticity of cartilage joints and ligaments. Rehabilitation takes at least six months, and often a year or more. However, you should not treat pain as something inevitable and bear it.
Postpartum back pain and its possible consequences
If your back hurts after delivery, do not delay the solution to this problem. Improper posture can lead to fluid retention in the body and, consequently, an increase in body weight. Spinal “distortions” sometimes cause painful stagnation of milk and even postpartum depression due to pinched nerve endings in the vertebrae.
Back problems can be a sign of diseases of many internal organs: heart, stomach, lungs, gall bladder, uterus, ovaries.
What should I do if my back hurts after delivery (lower back, coccyx, scapular region)?
If you have acute pain or constant discomfort in the back, it will be advisable, first of all, to contact a neurologist who will exclude serious problems with the spine, for example, inflammatory processes, pinched intervertebral discs or diseases of nerve endings and muscles. Perhaps the doctor will recommend you using a postpartum bandage or special corset. If a medical specialist suspects an intervertebral hernia – protrusion of the intervertebral disc beyond the upper and lower vertebrae – you will be advised to have an MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging) of the spine. This study is safe for breastfeeding women.
The more affordable financial option for the examination is x-ray, but it is not so informative and harmless to health.
If necessary, a doctor will prescribe treatment: drugs, physiotherapy, a course of manual therapy. Keep in mind that intervertebral hernia cannot be delayed; this is a serious disease, sometimes requiring even surgical intervention.
If the MRI does not reveal any problems, the doctor may suggest that the cause of back pain is diseases of the internal organs. Then you will be advised to undergo an ultrasound and pass a biochemical blood test and a general urine test. Using tests to determine the presence of problems in the functioning of the kidneys, pancreas, liver, and ultrasound can identify structural changes in internal organs.
Treatment for pulling and acute back pain
When treating postpartum back pain, you must adhere to the doctor’s recommendations. The use of drugs is contraindicated in lactating mothers since most of them pass to the baby through milk. The main treatment methods in the postpartum period are gymnastics, massage, physiotherapy (electrophoresis, magnetotherapy), manual therapy, acupuncture.
If acute pain occurs, limit physical activity, take a comfortable posture, which makes it easier. Standing and sitting enhances pain, you’d better lie more on your back, with your legs bent at 90° in the knees. Roll up and place a pillow or bedspread under your knees – it’s easier to get the right pose.
If the pain is so severe that you can no longer bear it, you can use painkillers such as Paracetamol, Ketoprofen, and Diclofenac. However, in the future, be sure to consult a doctor!
Prevention and relief of postpartum back pain
To prevent or relieve pain in the postpartum period, try to adhere to the following rules:
- Avoid hard labor for at least the first 5-6 months after delivery. It takes time to restore the muscles of the back and abdomen, and excessive loads can cause pain in the spine;
- Control your weight. The more extra pounds you have, the more difficult the body to recover after delivery;
- Feed your baby in a comfortable position. You’d better feed the baby lying on your side. If you are more comfortable feeding while sitting, use a high chair that supports your back well. Feet should be put on a small stool or ottoman;
- Sleep on a hard mattress. The soft surface of the mattress relaxes the muscles, which, in turn, contributes to the deformation of the spine. And if you have back problems already, a soft mattress can only aggravate them. You’d better use a sufficiently rigid and elastic orthopedic pillow or cushion to support the cervical spine;
- Perform special exercises for the back. Gymnastics should be aimed at strengthening the muscles of the back and abdomen. Focus not on the severity of exercises but on the regularity of classes.
- Avoid sudden movements. Move smoothly. Rising from a prone position, turn on your side, bend your knees, lean your hand and only then sit down and get up. To raise a child or something heavy from the floor (for example, a bucket of water), instead of bending, try to squat with a straight back or kneel. Do not carry heavy things on outstretched arms, try to make sure that the main load falls on the legs. When cleaning the floor with a vacuum cleaner, lean hand on foot – this will help reduce the load on the spine;
- Be careful when choosing a stroller or baby carrier. There is only one important requirement for the stroller: the handle should be above your waist. Things are a little more complicated with baby carriers – there are a lot of them, and not all are useful for mom and baby. A sling, and especially a sling scarf, is best for unloading the back. It provides for different winding options and perfectly distributes the baby’s weight over her mother’s body;
- Make your life easier. A mop and a brush with a long handle, a robot vacuum cleaner will avoid tilting when cleaning. If you have groceries for the whole family on your shoulders, use a backpack instead of a bag;
- Pay attention to the height of children’s furniture and other items. The crib, changing table and bathtub should be suitable for your height. Mom should not overstrain her back during routine operations. Adjust the height of the bottom of the crib, use the stand under the baby bath;
- Walk more and, if possible, visit the pool. Such loads will restore and strengthen the muscles of the back.
We hope that your back pain is only a temporary consequence of pregnancy and delivery. Take care of yourself and be healthy!