Easing Back and Joint Pain in Pregnancy

Pregnancy has proven to be hard on my back and hips. With K, I had severe SI joint pain. Any time I switched positions (sitting to standing, laying down to getting up), my back felt like it popped out of place. I could put no weight on my right leg for at least 5 minutes after getting up; it was ridiculous. Chiropractic helped a little bit, but there wasn’t a cure-all (except giving birth).

This time, I’ve been dealing with SPD (symphysis pubic dysfunction) and awful round ligament pain. My hips click in and out, turning over in bed is painful, and I feel like I’ve been kicked in the groin pretty much constantly.

So, how have I been dealing with this pain? As much as I’d like to say I’ve been sitting on the couch relaxing and letting everything settle, reality is that with a full-time job and a toddler, I needed to find some coping strategies. Fast.

Here are some tips I’ve gathered from friends, midwives, and general experience:

1. An exercise ball. Rather than sitting back on the couch which compresses your spine and misaligns everything, sitting on an exercise ball helps. It keeps everything straight and in place, it absorbs the weight on your hips and pelvis, and it honestly was my best friend during my pregnancy with K. Just make sure that you buy one that’s the proper height for you; most boxes have a chart for height on them. I’m 5’7 and I believe my ball is 65″ round.

2. Chiropractic: Seeing a chiropractor freaks me out, to be perfectly honest. I hate the cracking and crunching so often associated with visits, and I’m so nervous that it will hurt or go wrong. That being said, when I’ve visited while pregnant, the actual popping/ adjusting isn’t something that he did. Instead, he focused on stretching and moving my body to open up hips and back, and alleviating pressure put on my joints. I haven’t been yet for the SPD, but I’ve heard fantastic things from others who have dealt with it. Make sure you find a chiropractor comfortable with pregnant women, however. The wrong types of adjustments can be harmful.

3. Swimming. The great thing about having two summer babies is the opportunity to spend the worst, hottest, most uncomfortable months in the pool. Swimming has been the most recommended form of exercise and relief offered to me by my midwives and chiropractor. Because you’re significantly lighter in the water, pressure is taken off of your hips, back, and joints. Whether you actually swim, take Aquafit, or just float around (my preference), being in the water allows you to stretch out sore joints and get some exercise when you might otherwise be in too much pain.

4. Hot water: On the water front, I’ve found that hot showers are excellent at alleviating pain. I can’t handle super hot water, so the concern about raising body temperature isn’t really there. If you’re someone who can tolerate really hot showers, just be careful how long you’re spending in the water; my  midwives’ rule of thumb is to get out when your skin is turning pink/red. Hot tubs are a pregnancy no-no, but if you can handle sitting, a warm bath will also help with the pain.

5. Yoga: the stretching, bending and strengthening of yoga is fantastic for helping with joint pain. Even on your sorest days, stretching can really help. Don’t overdo it; stay away from intense classes and hot yoga. Any prenatal yoga classes or videos should be good, though!

6. Support belts: This is something I used for my SI joint problems, but not yet for SPD. Pregnancy support belts are designed in a few different ways. Some of them are just for your hips and pelvis: they tighten right at hip level, and keep everything locked into place. This is great if your hips and pelvis are slipping out of place; sometimes, the extra stability is all you need. Other belts are designed to support your belly, keeping the extra weight from pulling too much. These are more helpful for lower back pain and round ligament pain.

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Have you dealt with any serious back, hip, or joint pain while pregnant? What did you do to ease the pain?

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