Lower Back Pain and Sleep

Low back pain sometimes begins early in pregnancy and can continue for months after birth.  This pain may affect how you enjoy your pregnancy.

Back pain affects approximately half of pregnant women, sometimes beginning early in their pregnancy and continuing for months after they give birth. Persistent and severe back pain can interfere with daily life, work, and sleep, and can cause increased and unnecessary pain during delivery.  Back pain during pregnancy is usually the result of postural, weight, and hormonal changes. As your weight increases during your pregnancy, your centre of gravity shifts forward and you naturally change your posture to compensate. The hormone relaxin is also released during your pregnancy, which causes joints to become more flexible; while this increased flexibility is crucial during delivery, it decreases lower back stability during a time at which it’s under added stress. Abdominal muscles also stretch to give your baby room to grow, which means they can no longer stabilize your pelvis, leaving your spine and back muscles to do the job. Weight and pressure of the baby later in your pregnancy can compress nerves in the spine.   This usually affects how you sleep, and function during the day.

There are two common types of low back pain in pregnancy, lumbar pain and posterior pelvic pain:

  • Lumbar pain is a common form of back pain experienced in the community. Lumbar pain is felt in the lower spine. Lumbar discomfort can be triggered by sitting or standing for extended periods of time or by repetitive lifting.
  • Posterior pelvic pain is low back ache that is experienced behind the pelvis, below the waist, and/or across the tailbone or sacrum. It can also be felt in the buttocks, on one or both sides, or in the back of the thighs.
  • Posterior pelvic discomfort can be aggravated by bending, twisting, rolling, climbing stairs, and prolonged leaning forward such as occurs when you sit at a computer for extended periods of time.

Posterior pelvic pain is often mistaken as sciatica. When you have sciatica, it can cause severe pain not only in the low back, hips, buttocks, and thighs, but also in the legs. With sciatica, the leg pain is generally more severe than the spinal pain, and is accompanied by numbness, tingling, or pin-pricking sensations. This aching and numbness generally radiates into the toes. Numbness may also extend to the groin and genital areas. Sciatica is generally caused by a herniated or bulging disk.

The risk of low back pain during pregnancy increases if you have had back pain before becoming pregnant or during a previous pregnancy. You also have an increased risk of back pain if you are carrying twins or are overweight. If the pain is more than minor discomfort you may find pain relief with 2XU Pregnancy leggings.  You may also find total body support with a specially designed pillow to help with your pelvic alignment and to have support with your head, neck and spine.  The Ultimate Sleep U pillow or the  UltimateSkies pregnancy Support Pillow can provide you with the necessary support to the entire pelvic region and allow your back to be supported also.

2XU pregnancy shorts and leggings provide gently continuous compression to the entire pelvic girdle and perineal area. This level of compression allows your own muscles to be constantly active so that the underlying joints remain stable.

In order to maintain a healthy back during pregnancy, it is important to engage in a regular exercise regimen.  Exercise is essential for controlling and reducing back pain during and after pregnancy.  This exercise plan should be tailored to your specific needs. A Women’s Health Physiotherapist will provide you with a diagnosis and a treatment plan suited to your needs.

So in short, continue to engage in exercise prescribed to you by a health care professional, support your pelvis during the day with the 2XU pregnancy leggings and provide yourself with necessary support to sleep better at night with either the total body support pillow, or  the UltimateSkies pregnancy pillow to ensure pelvic alignment.