By Dr Garima Anandani
As suggested by worldwide research, about 50 per cent of expecting mothers suffer from lower back pain during pregnancy. The cause of this is the extra weight carried, which shifts the centre of gravity and puts pressure on the mother’s spine. However, for many new moms, the problem continues even after childbirth. This condition is referred to as postpartum back pain.
Severe back pain affects almost one-third of all the new mothers which reduces their quality of life. Some mothers experience radiating pain in their right leg, which is known medically as postpartum sciatica. The causes of postpartum back pain, as identified by doctors include stress, wrong posture during breastfeeding, and continuous bending and lifting.
It is not unusual for new mothers to experience back pain after childbirth. During pregnancy, the uterus expands and disturbs the natural ‘S’ curve of the spine. This compresses the discs and the nerves. Sometimes this problem doesn’t correct itself after childbirth. Back pain not only affects one’s well-being but interferes with childcare too. So, if the problem persists, one must see a specialist without any delay.
While women’s health in India, especially in the role of a caregiver, is often ignored, it can lead to some serious health issues in the long run. Many women in their advanced age suffer from different degrees of disabilities due to back pain.
Causes of back pain in new mothers
Any of the following factors or a combination of these can cause back pain in new mothers:
· Bending and lifting: Bending and lifting the baby, along with carrying and rocking the young one around puts extra pressure on one’s spine.
· Lack of post-pregnancy care: Starting a job or getting engaged in household work soon after childbirth doesn’t allow your body to recover completely.
· Pregnancy hormones: The pregnancy hormones that are responsible for loosening the muscles and joints to assist in childbirth promotes back pain post pregnancy.
· Stress and strain: Continuous lack of sleep and rest will stress your muscles and cause back and neck pain.
· Breastfeeding: Holding the baby in an incorrect manner during feeding can cause pain in the upper, middle and lower back.
· Psychological conditions: New mothers experience myriads of emotions, from anxiety to anger, which further aggravates their condition.
Do not ignore back pain
New mothers must not ignore back pain or suppress it with painkillers. While the problem is often mechanical, lying particularly in the muscle tissue, it can be treated with specialised targeted physical therapy programmes. Revolutionary tests like the Digital Spine Analysis (DSA) along with advanced treatments like Cell Repair Technology helps repair and regenerate the soft muscle tissues in the spine that are affected during pregnancy.
Back pain due to pregnancy often recedes with time. But if it continues, then you need to see a specialist, especially, if suffering from radiating pain. Timely treatment prevents long-term complications. Drug-free and non-invasive methods of treatment include spine rehabilitation for the treatment of postpartum sciatica and lower back pain. This is particularly safe for expecting and new moms.
Ways for new mothers to relieve postpartum back pain
Here are some tips for new mothers:
· Maintain right body mechanics: Always bend down from the knee while lifting the child.
· Perform gentle exercises: Simple stretching and yoga under an expert’s guidance.
· Adopt alternative pain relief techniques: Avoid painkillers; use a hot or cold compress or book a cell repair therapy session.
· Maintain correct posture while feeding: Always lift the baby up to your breast to avoid bending.
Consult a spine specialist if back pain persists for more than six weeks post pregnancy or hampers daily activities like bending, breastfeeding and lifting your child.
(The writer is Senior Spine Specialist & Clinical Director, QI Spine Clinic.)