Post-partum back pain is not an uncommon ailment.
Some women have pain during pregnancy, including back pain and sciatica. Women face a variety of changes in the body after pregnancy, as well. Not only are there changes in the vagina after childbirth, but there could also be consequences from the epidurals, including back pain after epidural use. Post-partum back pain in the lower and upper back may be other issues women have after the pregnancy is over. While pregnant, a woman’s body is altered by hormones, which loosens ligaments and joints, causing less stability. In addition, the stretching uterus contributes to weakened abdominal muscles and poor posture, straining the back and stressing the joints and muscles with the extra weight. Just as it takes months to create these body changes, it takes time to restore the body after childbirth. Labor itself is also a contributing factor to back pain. Muscles that have not been normally used are put into service, leading to soreness. Some women may have improper posture when carrying or breastfeeding the baby, leading to neck and upper back strain, as well as lower back pain. Lack of sleep and exhaustion could also contribute to discomfort. The women who may be most affected by post-partum back pain are those who had chronic back pain or who were overweight before the pregnancy.1
Treating Back Pain
There are some exercises that may be beneficial for the post-partum period. It is important to improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles of the abdomen. Walking, and eventually swimming, pelvic tilts, yoga, and gentle stretches are useful exercises. Women should consult with their healthcare professionals before starting, and all exercise should start slowly, stopping when there is discomfort. When feeding or carrying the baby, it is crucial to stand up and sit up straight. When lifting, women need to remember to bend at the knees and not lift with the back; however, if a C-section was performed, there should be no lifting for a couple of months.2 Some women may wish to wear a belly band, “a tube top that goes around your stomach”, to provide back support.3 Others may try a special baby carrier to help distribute the baby’s weight more evenly.4 Chiropractors can give exercise and ergonomic advice to new parents, such as not carrying the baby on one hip while cradling a phone between the ear and shoulder. They can also advise on the most comfortable way to carry the baby and the best posture to use while pushing a stroller. Additionally, chiropractic care can be useful in exercise and weight control. Chiropractors are specialists in musculoskeletal health and they can provide therapies for changing bodies.5
Learn more about post-partum chiropractic treatments.