Along with all the joys of pregnancy comes some not-so-joyous side effects like nausea, fatigue, and for me–neck & back pain. I’m one of those people that tries as many natural avenues as I can before resorting to any type of medication and when you’re expecting that list of “approved” medications is even smaller. If you’re feeling tension and pain, here’s a few natural things to try.
1. Practice Good Posture.
Your mother always told you as you were growing up to straighten up your posture. It’s never been more important than when you’re pregnant. As you start to expand and gain weight, your entire balance shifts and you may find yourself pushing your lower back
towards the front of your body to compensate. The problem with this is that it’s causing all your back muscles to tense up which will cause more pain. When you sit up straight it gives your back muscles a chance to stretch and lengthen.
2. Get in the Water.
Water supports your weight and relieves the stress on aching joints and your back. You can look into whether your hospital offers a water exercise class. I know mine does. You can also just get a membership to your local YMCA–they even have a discounted rate for pool only.
3. Visit a Chiropractor.
I had this amazing chiropractor when I lived in Missouri. There were many times that I would walk in with a killer headache and after a few simple adjustments it was gone. When you visit a chiropractor they adjust the joints in your body to be properly aligned. This relieves stress on both muscles and the nerves. Be sure that the one you choose is familiar with working on pregnant patients as the adjustments are a bit different then when not pregnant.
4. Sit Comfortably.
When I plan to be on my computer for a while, usually blogging, I always use a few pillows for support. I particularly use a pillow to support the lumbar, or lower region, of my back. I also take a few of the back cushions from my couch and either put one behind my head (since our couch is against a wall) or put one or two to use as a footstool. When you keep your legs elevated and in a non stressful position it helps to not put unnecessary stress on your back.
5. Proper Sleep Positions.
This one is a big one for me because I can definitely tell when I’ve forgotten to properly support myself during sleep. I usually end up with not only neck and back pain but generally a migraine as well. Try sleeping on your side supported by a body pillow or a pregnancy pillow. If you don’t have either, you could use a couple of normal pillows but they are more of a hassle since they move as much as you do during the night. Also be sure that you have a nice, firm pillow for your head because you want to be sure your neck is aligned with your spine. If you try to use too many pillows though it can create an unnatural position in your neck and spine.
6. Maternity Support Belt.
These belts are durable and supportive elastic that wrap around hips and lower belly to support the lower abdominal muscles. These muscles are stretching to accommodate your growing belly and a support belt will not only help to relieve stress and pain to those muscles, but to your back as well. If a support belt isn’t for you, try wearing maternity pants with a low, supportive waistband.
Your spouse can do wonders for your back pain if you can get them to rub it for you. It’s especially effective after a nice hot shower because the heat will help to get your muscles relaxed and easier to work on them with a massage. If there isn’t someone around to help you, you could either schedule a prenatal massage or you could try this trick my sister in law told me about using a tennis ball.
Okay, so I don’t have tennis balls around, but I used a wool dryer ball and it worked great! Since you aren’t supposed to lay on your back for a significant amount of time while pregnant, you can sit on either a firm backed couch or a wall. Place the soft ball between your back and the wall and while slowly moving, use your body weight to apply the desired amount of pressure.
|Used with CC license from HERE.|
8. Wear the Right Shoes.
Heels will misalign your back, throw off your balance with your belly, and cause you to push your lower back forward like I mentioned when talking about posture. Wearing high heels can also cause you to fall which is dangerous to both your and your unborn baby or even worse, cause you to almost fall which causes you to tense up in reaction and can cause more stress on back muscles than an actual fall could. On the other end of the spectrum, you should also refrain from wearing flip flops since there is no support in them.
9. Ice & Heat.
Ice helps to reduce inflammation and swelling and als
o provides a numbing effect. When I did athletic training the rule was always 20 minutes on during every hour. You can also use heat which will get deep into tissues and help the muscles to relax. It will also increase circulation which can help to alleviate the pain but be sure to do it in moderation because if you apply heat for too long it can actually make the symptoms worse. Try heat with cold after.
10. Try a Neck Exercise.
This basic neck exercise is easy enough that you can do it anywhere.
Sitting up straight, turn head to left as far as you can and hold for 10-15 second. Return to center. Turn head to the right as far as you can and hold for 10-15 seconds before once again returning to center. Bring your chin to your chest, looking down, and hold 10-15 seconds. Be sure that you don’t roll your neck in circles. You can actually cause more stress to your neck and can do damage to your upper spine.
Hopefully some of these tips can help you find some relief during what is supposed to be such an enjoyable time in your life. I know they’re been working for me with this second baby!