The wait is over. Your bundle of joy is here. But with it, came this discomfort and pain in your lower back. You can’t sit for long, can’t stand straight, can’t bend over, can’t enjoy those precious bonding moments with your newborn without that constant discomfort.
You’ve asked around, searched on Google, consulted WebMD, trying to find solutions to this problem but aren’t quite sure what advice is for you and what’s not.
Postpartum back pain is more common than you can imagine. Every 1 in 2 women in the first few months after giving birth suffer from low back pain. While conditions like postpartum depression are much discussed and addressed both by doctors and the media, postpartum back pain doesn’t receive the discussion and attention it should, given the number of women affected.
For the lucky few, the pain resolves by itself in a few weeks… but for some mothers, without any intervention, it can drag on for months, even years and can keep getting worse. Like any other condition, understanding why it happens is half the battle in finding a solution. Here are a couple of reasons why the pain comes about.
Both your back and abdominal muscles work to help you maintain an upright posture. During pregnancy, your expanding uterus stretched and weakened your abdominal muscles causing a muscle imbalance. With weak abdominal muscles, your back muscles work overtime, compensating for the weak abs. This puts a considerable strain on your lower back, resulting into pain and discomfort.
This is a condition where there’s separation of the abdominal wall at the connective tissue that runs directly down the centre of your tummy (known as the linea alba) This happens naturally during pregnancy to give the growing fetus more room to expand. After giving birth, for some women, this tissue doesn’t shrink back to its original size. The ab muscles then remain stretched out and weak… this decreases the stability of the pelvis which contributes to Sacroiliac joint instability, which is a common cause of low back pain.
Back pain after a caesarean delivery is fairly common. This particular type of pain, mainly experienced as tingling sensations and discomfort, is a side effect of the epidurals and spinal anaesthesia that are frequently used during the procedure. Scar tissue is another byproduct of caesarean delivery, which can also bring about discomfort in the low back.
The newborn does require a lot of care. There’s feeding, dressing, bathing, changing diapers in addition to all the other chores you have to do. The last thing on your mind... is your posture. Without knowing it, you’re constantly hunched over, bending forward, shoulders rounded, neck bent facing down… the strain on your lower back is immense.
Postpartum back pain isn’t restricted to the lower back. Some mothers experience upper and middle back pain. This can be traced to a number of reasons ranging from muscle strains, that could occur when you lean over to lift your child or after carrying them for an extended period of time, to hormonal changes that happen in the early months of motherhood.
What Can I Do About It?
The good news is, it can be fixed. The bad news is … it’s going to take some effort on your part. There’s tons of information out there on what to do and what not to do. But every case of postpartum back pain is unique and has to be dealt as such. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all cure.
Visit your physician or your physiotherapist before starting any remedy for your pain. Your physiotherapist will examine you and determine what’s causing the pain and how best to handle it. This will include designing a pain management plan with you, an exercise regimen to build your muscle strength up and correct your posture as well as advice on how best to take care of your back.