Author – Dr Katie Willy
Want to know how you can help yourself and have the best pregnancy you can?
You can also download my free Essential Mobility for the Pregnant Spine guide towards the end of the post!
This was my first pregnancy. I was in for a ride.
I got to a point at 32 weeks, where I was lazing on the couch. When I went to get up, I was stuck… I literally couldn’t turn, sit-up, roll….anything. I would feel a catch in my low back like a sharp knife every time I moved even a tiny bit causing me to gasp…
I was in alright shape physically before getting pregnant, swimming, walking & pilates.
Occasionally I had felt left-sided low back pain and sometimes a sharp grabbing pain in my groin crease. But when I was pregnant this was amplified!
Previously it hadn’t stopped me doing anything, just a niggle here and there.
I am an Osteopath by profession (since 2003) and although I have treated many pregnant women with muscle and joint pain, there is nothing like having to fix you own, especially when you can’t even walk!
What I will cover:
- Why my pain occurred
- How I resolved this specific episode
- How I prevented further episodes of pregnancy pain
- Why many women get pelvic and low back pain in pregnancy
- I will provide you with a free downloadable guide for pregnancy pain prevention
- Advice on what to do if YOUR pain is not improving
Old familiar pain…
- I walked too far
- I stood too long
- did lots of bending
- was squatting
- was lifting
Oh dear, now I’m stuck…
So when I got stuck on the couch I had clearly aggravated my low back and pelvis.
Being an Osteopath you tend not to get worried about this kind of thing. There are definite benefits knowing how the body works and knowing that pain is not always an indicator for injury. Pain is often just an alert that something is NQR. But regardless of what I knew professionally…I was still stuck, and my back was clearly having a hissy-fit.
So I start calling to my husband , “Tye…..Tye…..Tye….”, no answer…bummer.
He wasn’t actually ignoring me. He was down our hallway in the far bedroom/study with the door closed on the computer…saving the world one battle at a time with a headset on (boys and computer games-classic). What to do with myself now?
Husband…Please hear me!!
Somehow, I maneuvered myself for about 10 minutes to get onto the floor. But I still couldn’t get up on my feet.
So I started crawling across the kitchen to the hallway…giggling a little at how comical this was. Finally, by the time I was in our hallway he heard me and came out.
Of course I got the “Babe…are you OK? What happened?”, to which I replied that I was fine and could he please just help me to the shower. The heat of the water is like a “pep-talk” for kind of pain and I thought that if I could warm up my back then I would be able to stand…VICTORY!!
Now standing, I could maneuver my low back a little more. You see it had become stiff from the physical load I had placed on it when gardening.
What had happened to my back and pelvis?
The changes occurring from my growing bundle had imbalanced my pelvis and spine & placed pressure on pelvic muscles making them work a little harder. This made the muscles tighten up, causing further imbalance, and consequently pain in the low back, pelvis and back of the hips. The pains can be sharp, dull or aching (or a combination).
Any activity that places body weight mostly through one leg (like the digging I did for me) is notorious for triggering this type of issue. Clearly the gardening was grounds for protest. Stair-climbing or standing with one hip slouched (where your body weight is predominantly through one leg) can cause the same thing.
The pain happened to a much lesser extent throughout the rest of my pregnancy. Understanding the triggers helped me to manage further pain. When we are unsure of the cause of our pain it is confronting especially when pregnant as we generally think that pain is bad. Pain is not bad, pain is helpful in letting us know something needs looking into.
In many cases, like mine, there are ways to avoid and manage the physical load of pregnancy. Feel free to download my self-help document you see below.
This didn’t happen again. Why?
Knowing what my back issue was took all the worry away for me. You see it is normal to exacerbate a region that has been vulnerable prior to your pregnancy. It doesn’t mean it will be terrible during your pregnancy, it just means you may need to give it some attention to stay active and flexible.
Mine was able to be managed with little discomfort after this episode with exercises, and didn’t give me any issue late pregnancy or even in labour or birthing. I was able to keep the area mobile and relaxed with a few simple strategies.
Other tips to help in the meantime:
- Ensure your back is well supported while you sit down. You could place a rolled up hand towel between the curve of your spine and the chair back.
- Wear flat shoes.
- Try to ensure any weight you carry is evenly distributed – this means no shoulder bags and, unfortunately, no lifting your toddler up onto your hip.
- Take your time when doing any activity that may put strain on your pelvis (eg, getting out of a car, squatting).
- Sleep with a pillow between your legs to neutralise your spine position.
- If using the stairs is painful, take them one at a time
- If you’re uncomfortable, move position. Try moving about and see if that helps.
Want to know how I managed my pelvic issue with my Osteopathic background of knowledge?
This is basically a “What does an Osteopath do when they have pregnancy pain?” guide!
Now your story might sound like mine, it may be different. You need to understand that in no way is my story your story. The point of this article is to show you that not all pain is bad for us. And that pregnancy may not have to be a painful experience if you have the right strategies to manage your body.
What you do need to know is that if you are experiencing pregnancy pain, I advise you to see a professional who has knowledge in the area of pregnancy…who understands the mechanics and changes occurring in your body. Don’t accept pain as part of pregnancy, accept it as an indicator of something that may need a new strategy.
Check out more on our pregnancy page. Click here.
You are also welcome to call and speak to one of our Osteopaths about your pregnancy issue 9857 7872.
These exercises are easy for you to do and could put you in control of your pregnancy-related pain, just like they did for me!
About the Author
Dr Katie Willy (Osteopath) is the principal practitioner at Boroondara Osteopathy. She began the clinic in 2004 and has a number of Osteopaths now working alongside her. Both Katie and her associates are experienced in treating pregnant women this being a strong interest area and focus at the clinic. When not consulting at the clinic, Katie is enjoying watching her 2 little boys grow. A busy but wonderful time.