As I am nearing the end of my pregnancy, it is a time of great joy and annoyance. I am ecstatic to reach the final stage, but as each week passes, my movement becomes more awkward as baby gains more weight and presses on my hips. The last weeks of pregnancy are almost a cruel trick of fate. Like the dreams where you are running and can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it seems like it is getting further away rather than closer. Time at the end of pregnancy seems to slow down, and you feel more fatigue as you attempt to ignore the baby’s constant nudging at night. You trade personal comfort for the due date that is slowly inching closer. As I said, a cruel trick of fate.
Although the final few weeks are not a happy place for me in terms of physical well being, I do have some ways I find relief. They are exercises that I have found take the edge off my back pain during pregnancy. I want to remind you to make sure to be cautious when trying these. You know best what your body can do and what its limits are, so don’t push it. Keep in mind that all bodies are different, so what works for me may not work for you. However with saying that, these exercises could be worth trying if you are in need of a little pain relief.
Yoga is first and foremost at the top of my list, because stretching was a very important factor for me after my first baby. After giving birth to my first, I managed to pinch the sciatic nerve in my left hip. The cause being that I didn’t properly stretch and move around while my innards were shifting back into place, so during recovery things got pinched. I felt random nerve pain throughout the next couple of years until I became pregnant with my second child and things stretched out again. You can say I learned my lesson, because with my second pregnancy I became more diligent with stretching and doing yoga. Even post-baby, I made it a point of stretching during recovery so that things fell into place properly and that my muscles were being strengthened little by little. I was happy to find that the pain I felt before was not present, and my recovery ended up going more smoothly.
I suggest yoga mainly because stretches you will find for the lower back are ones that you may already know. Even if you aren’t a big yoga buff, they are ones that can easily be done without too much strain to your body while pregnant. An added benefit to yoga is that it is low impact and can provide some light strengthening for you as well. This is a big plus during labor, because the subtle strengthening over time only makes it easier to push. For reference, if you go to youtube and type in “prenatal yoga,” there are many videos to choose from. I personally have a DVD called Yoga Mama, done by a lady named Sue Elkind.
Stretches I find to be quite relieving are: Child’s pose, Downward Facing Dog, Standing poses, Squats, and Hip Openers. Remember to do what is comfortable for you!
Swimming is kind of a no brainer, but I will mention it because swimming is the best form of exercise and you will always hear me say so. It is fairly well known that swimming provides good, low-impact cardio for people, but for pregnant women the main benefit is the weightlessness the water provides. As I mentioned above, the weight of the baby starts to press down on your pelvis causing discomfort. A baby’s main growth in the third trimester is to gain fat in preparation for delivery, because development at this point is nearly complete. As each week progresses, you will notice how much harder it is to move and how easy it is to pop your hips and joints.
Swimming is a welcome, almost instant relief to hip pain. If you can’t swim laps, it is okay. Just being in the water can offer relief to your lower back. Walking in the water, stretching, or even just floating gives the desired outcome. If you are someone who likes to be active, then going into the deep end and treading water and doing pulling strokes might get in some exercise without straining muscles in your abdomen. Swimming can also be a good time to connect with baby. Your baby is already weightless in a liquid environment, and as the baby’s weight is lifted, you may feel more movement with the new space.
I will say there is one downside to swimming and that is having to get out. Make sure to ease out of the water slowly and take your time, so your body can re-adjust from a weightless environment to gravity kicking in. Patience getting out is worth it, and an reduce pinching and back pain later from moving to quickly.
Pressure Points On Hips
This is probably the best thing I discovered with my second child. When I say pressure on hips, I am referring to hand pressure that someone can apply to points in your lower back to release tension. The steps are easy:
Step #1: Have mother-to-be kneel on her hands and knees with a neutral spine.
Step #2: Find a person to help and have them butterfly their hands, heels of the hands facing inwards, and then gently press down on the lower back at base of your spine where the pelvis meets.
Just that little bit of pressure in the base of your spine where your nerves are, opens up your hips and alleviates the pressure you may feel. You will know best the points where you feel the most pain, so make sure to guide the person helping to the points that offer the most relief.
Another one to try:
Step #1: Stay in the same position on hands and knees with a neutral spine.
Step #2: Have the person helping place their hands on either side of your hips, pressing inwards with as much strength as they can muster.
This again opens up space in your hips and opens up the areas where the weight of baby pinches the nerves in your lower back. I usually have my husband help me with this when my sciatic nerve is pinched and stretching isn’t doing the job. The pressure applied loosens my hips enough to ease the tight pinch off the sciatic nerve.
Trying Pressure Point Treatment
I tried this for the first time this pregnancy, and I am grateful I did. I was fortunate enough to try it from one of my husband’s friends who is a licensed chiropractor with training in NUCCA. NUCCA is a type of chiropractic care that involves using what is called a “gentle touch” technique. It is non-evasive and isn’t like the normal crack-pop procedure of normal chiropractic care. I had heard through the grapevine that he had experience doing pressure point treatment for pregnant women, so of course I jumped on the chance being 36 weeks pregnant. With this being my third pregnancy, it was obvious that a lot of my back pain stemmed from my body relaxing more readily than with my first child. When I told him I had pain throughout the whole pregnancy, he wasn’t too surprised knowing a big part of lower back pain is the nerves being relaxed and shifted.
First off, I have to tell you now that the “gentle touch” was not so gentle. It was probably the weirdest, painful, but good experience I have ever had. The pressure was so concentrated into the points in my hips, it was like someone stabbing you with a boney finger. It wasn’t easy having that firm pressure placed on my lower back to align things properly, but the results were worth it.
Before I had the adjustment, I felt off balance feeling most of my pain in the left side of my lower back. After the procedure, the pain was still present, but negated by half. I also noticed that I felt some pain on my right side, as if both sides were balancing out. I was a little sore for an hour after, but the instant benefits I noticed was that it was easier to walk, and I didn’t feel a sharp pain every time I walked up stairs. It was a relief when I went to bed that night, because I didn’t feel tremendous pain with each roll. I slept like a baby.
Pressure point treatment is one I will caution you on the most just for the reason that it might not be for everyone. It can be strong and a little painful to feel pressure in the areas that are already hurting. Keep in mind that if you do not do well with pain, this might not be for you. However, if you can stand it, the temporary pressure you feel is worth having less pain and to be able to walk better. As a disclaimer, always consult with your medical care provider if you are ever concerned about the safety for you and your baby.
I am no medical professional, but these are four remedies that could prove to be very helpful for some new mommas out there. Passing along knowledge and experience gained over time only makes a tough process like pregnancy more relieving. I hope you new mommys out there can find relief in the exercises I have shared.
Please share with me what has helped you with lower back pain in pregnancy!