Back pain during pregnancy is commonly discussed, but not many people know that back pain can continue after birth. Up to 20% of women experience postpartum back pain for three to six months after giving birth. Postpartum back pain can be a symptom of weakened and overstretched muscles, hormonal changes, labor complications, and poor posture. Knowing how to address the causes of your back pain can help speed up your postpartum recovery.
Why does postpartum back pain occur?
A study found that new mothers who had back pain during pregnancy will most likely continue to have back pain after they give birth. This is because the muscles strain and stretch to accommodate pregnancy over a long period of time. As a result, the back may need a long period of recovery after delivery. Below are some reasons why you might be feeling postpartum back pain:
- Sudden weight changes — While your uterus grows in width and weight throughout pregnancy, it can consistently overtax your back and realign your posture. After you give birth, the effects of nine months’ worth of strain on your body do not go away. In fact, the drastic change in weight after birth can leave your back feeling unstable, weak and achy.
- Hormonal changes — Hormonal changes during pregnancy can loosen your joints and ligaments that attach your pelvis to your spine. This can leave your back feeling unstable and painful, long after pregnancy. It can take between six and eight weeks for your joints and surrounding tissue to stabilize and bear weight again after giving birth.
- Poor body mechanics — Your position and posture during daily activities can worsen postpartum back pain. Holding your baby in awkward positions can cause back pain over time. In addition, hunching over your baby while breastfeeding can put unnecessary pressure on your back, and bending without back support can cause additional strain. After giving birth, it can be important to give your back breaks when you can so that you can ease back stress and fast-track your recovery.
No matter the reason for your back pain, if it is intense to the point it is unbearable, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
What can you do to ease postpartum back pain?
Postpartum back pain may be a continuing symptom of pregnancy, or it can develop as a new symptom after labor and delivery. It’s important that you speak to a medical professional to find treatments and routines that can accommodate your back pain. The following at-home techniques can also help ease your body and encourage it to heal safely.
- Strengthen your core — After pregnancy, your abdomen muscles can be tender and weak. This stretching can result in a loss of muscle tone as well as the separation of your abdominal muscles. Without a reliable core, your back is forced to bear most of your body weight, leading to pain. Gentle core-strengthening exercises can help ease tension and weight from your back. In fact, 60% of new mothers found that core stabilization exercises eased their postpartum back pain.
- Be conscious of your posture — It can be tempting to slouch or bend your shoulders while feeding your baby or changing a diaper. However, slouching can place strain on your back and restrict your recovery process. By simply being aware of your posture, you can keep a neutral spine while taking care of your baby and easing your back pain. In addition, while bending, remind yourself to bend from your knees, not your back. This can help take off pressure from your lower back.
- Go to physical therapy — Physical therapists are experts in musculoskeletal disorders like back pain. They can evaluate your symptoms and teach you gentle exercises that can help strengthen your back, increase blood flow and increase mobility. Many physical therapy clinics offer programs that are specifically catered to women’s physical therapy needs, like pelvic pain.
Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for your postpartum back pain
At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and can help you address back pain after pregnancy.
Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.
Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your women’s health concerns.