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Oh baby – my back aches!

You have just witnessed two parallel blue lines on the pregnancy test and have anticipated the early waves of nausea; but many newly pregnant women are unaware that backache is also a very common early symptom that a new life is busily growing inside them.
Yoga Cat Pose - Courtesy

During early pregnancy, a woman’s hormone levels rise dramatically not only to maintain and establish the pregnancy, but to help ligaments and joints in the pelvis to soften and loosen in preparation for the birth. The hormones don’t only affect the pelvis joints but can also affect all joints in the body and for between half and three quarters of woman this causes back pain.

Stress can also cause back pain as it increases tension in the muscles, so early pregnancy anxiety can exasperate the problem. However, there are things that you can do to help alleviate the problem and make life more comfortable.

Alongside sensible solutions such as ensuring you bend your knees to pick things up, avoid lifting heavy objects and wearing sensible flat shoes to distribute your weight evenly, here are a few things that may also help with back pain:

· Lie in a warm (not too hot) bath

· Ask your partner for a gentle massage (if you can afford it, you could also seek a professional pregnancy massage)

· Relax and listen to meditation recordings (often available to listen to free online) to reduce anxiety and stress

· Ensure that your mattress is firm and supportive (if it is too soft, pop a piece of hard board underneath the mattress)

· Attend group (or individual) pregnancy back care or yoga classes

· Unless your GP or midwife advises not too, it is safe to take paracetamol

Exercises to help ease back pain in pregnancy

If you are familiar with Yoga, this exercise is known as the Cat Pose and will help to ease back pain throughout your pregnancy:

1. Kneel on all fours with hands under shoulders and hands facing forwards

2. Pull your stomach muscles in and arch your back upwards, tucking your bottom gently under (like a cat arching its back) hold the position for the count of 10

3. Gently return to the neutral position with your back straight

4. Repeat this slowly 10 times

There are free pre-natal and post-natal exercises – and also sleep meditation classes available on the NHS Website:

Many women also find it helpful to use a pillow or cushion to sleep, while sitting in a chair or driving to offer additional support to the back – particularly as the pregnancy progresses. The Little Chick London 4-in-1 Pregnancy Support Wedge is perfect for this. It gently supports the tummy and hips whilst sleeping and is also compact enough to pop into your back and take to work to

use while sitting at your desk (popped behind your back) or in the car. Once baby has arrived, it continues to be useful as a breastfeeding support pillow and for propping baby up for play and tummy time.

You can BUY ONLINE – currently on special offer at just £20.69 including postage (also, if you

need some stylish face masks, Little Chick London is currently offering its quality face masks at 50% off with every Pregnancy Cushion purchase!)

When to seek medical help for back pain in pregnancy

If your back ache is very painful your midwife or GP may be able to refer you to an obstetric physiotherapist. Also, it is important to contact your midwife or GP as soon as possible if you have back pain and you:

- are in your second or third trimester (it could be a sign of early labour)

- have a fever, bleeding from your vagina or pain when you pass urine

- lose feeling in one or both or your legs, your bum or your genitals

- have pain in one or more of your sides under your ribs

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