It was a couple days after giving birth to my daughter and I was laying on the floor of my room not wanting to move.
I thought if I moved it could just get worse.
And there was no way I was going to be able to make it if it got worse.
I’d just bent down to put my squishy, oh so adorably sleepy newbie in the bassinet when my back screamed out in agony.
This wasn’t the first time.
Ever since I’d given birth my back was not a happy camper. I’d go from feeling okay to being barely able to move without some sort of twinge or shock of pain somewhere.
Luckily since then I’ve done a lot of research and I know my second postpartum experience will be incredibly different. I may still have some pain but I’ll now have better tools and strategies to deal with it.
Strategies like the ones I’m going to share with you today.
I knew I had to write this post when I found out that back pain impacts 60-70% of pregnant women and it can easily carry over into the early (and late) postpartum days.
That means there are a lot of ladies suffering right now – you included.
And in order to get the relief you’re looking for, we need to dive into why you might be getting back pain in the first place before we can talk about the solutions.
Because we don’t want to just treat the symptom, we want to alleviate the cause.
So let’s chat about what could be causing your back pain. There are 4 main issues at play.
Maybe you’re working on healing a diastasis and the rest of your core isn’t as supportive and stable as it needs to be to help keep your back supported and happy.
It makes sense, right? If you have a weakness anywhere in your core it’s going to impact the rest of the system.
That’s why I treat the core as a whole – not just in pieces – because if one part isn’t working well, chances are it’s affecting other areas too.
Now I know you understand that this isn’t something that’ll resolve itself overnight. It’ll take some time to feel strong and comfortable again. But you can get there by doing some targeted stretching and strengthening to help regain the mobility and stability that’ll be key to help relieve the pressure on your back.
2. Pelvic Floor Issues
Remember how I just said we need to treat the core as a whole?
Well, your core is made up of lots of working pieces but the 4 biggies are your:
1. Diaphragm at the top
2. Transverse abdominis and other ab muscles around the front
3. Multifidus and other spinal stabilizers in the back
4. Your pelvic floor at the bottom
And if you’re dealing with things like leaking, painful sex, prolapse or other pelvic floor issues, chances are it’s impacting the rest of your core system – including your back (just like how diastasis can impact your back too).
So we want to get to the root of what’s causing your pelvic floor issues so we can help improve your back as well.
It’s not just about doing a bunch of kegels and calling it a day.
There could be more to your pelvic health picture than that.
So check in with a pelvic floor physiotherapist and they’ll likely be able to help you solve your pelvic floor issues which may help improve your back issues as well 0 win-win.
3. Too Tight & Out of Whack
Another possible reason your back may be driving you nuts is that your muscles are simply tight or misaligned (even slightly).
Right now you may be sitting or laying down more than you’re used to because you’re getting toward the end of your pregnancy and you’re tired, or you just gave birth and you’re tired – which is absolutely fine by the way.
We just want to be mindful of how you’re sitting so that you’re trying to stay in as optimal alignment as much as possible – even when you’re resting.
And we want to remember that if we aren’t using our muscles very often, they’re more likely to get tight. So we want to do some gentle stretching whenever we can to help limber them up.
Mom life is not easy on our bodies.
When you’re spending most of your day in awkward, weird, crunchy positions, muscles and bones and tissues are going to get out of alignment.
But what we want to remember is that – the better alignment we have, the more comfortable we’ll stay and the less likely we’ll have to deal with issues like back pain.
You don’t need to live in perfect alignment. We just want you to be mindful of it and try our best.
So what does optimal alignment look like then?
When you’re sitting, standing and moving two of the most important cues I want you to focus on are:
1. Untuck your butt
2. Stack your ribs over your hips
Untuck that butt when you sit, stand and move (you could even put a pillow or rolled up towel under your butt and hips to help elevate them and tilt your pelvis into a more optimal position when you’re sitting – especially if you’re feeding baby and you find yourself plopped on the couch or in a chair a lot).
It can also help to sit toward the front of the chair instead of resting on the back of it because it usually forces us to untuck our booty and sit more upright.
And stack your ribs over your hips as much as possible when you’re sitting, standing and moving – even with baby in your belly (as hard as it may be) try to avoid letting the weight of your middle bits pull you forward into a back arch thing.
Try to back those ribs up.
Again, remember that you don’t have to be perfect. Just try your best.
The more mindful you are of this, the better chance your back will have at feeling like it’s ol’ awesomely happy self again.
During pregnancy and while you’re breastfeeding the hormonal shifts your body goes through can make your tissues softer and stretchier. This means that it’s easier for things – like your pelvis – to get out of alignment.
Which means that it’s easier for you to get back pain because – as you can imagine – when your pelvis isn’t in the optimal spot it’s pulling on other muscles (including your back muscles) and making things awkward and painful for everyone else involved.
Unfortunately there’s not much we can do about solving the problem – you need the relaxin to help grow and give birth to your baby – but that doesn’t mean you have to just live with it.
Making sure you focus on optimal alignment – butt untucked, ribs over hips – can be super helpful when you’re dealing with the impact of relaxin. If you’re working on staying in the best alignment possible it won’t be so easy for things to get out of alignment.
And seeing a pro – like an osteopath or chiropractor – is also a great idea because they’ll be able to help you get things in better alignment so the pain can dissipate.
No One Best Solution
Now you have a better idea about what could be causing your back pain.
So now’s the time when I tell you what to do about it, right?
Well, like so many things during pregnancy and postpartum there really is no one best solution to solve your back issues (as frustrating as that is).
But there are things you can do to help make the pain go away:
1. Regain that strength, stability and mobility in your core by doing appropriate exercises and stretches (one of my fave core exercises is the pallof press and one of my fave stretches is this back goodness).
2. Work on living in optimal alignment as much as possible. You don’t have to get it perfect every second of the day. Just be mindful of how you’re sitting, standing and moving and work on keeping your butt untucked and ribs stacked over your hips.
3. See a pro for help – physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath, massage therapist… there are so many choices. I know you’re a busy mom but this is important. You are important. Go make an appointment. Right now 😉
And remember – we can’t just treat the symptom.
Doing some random back stretches or exercises to try to solve the problem may not work because you’re not getting to the root of the problem.
Our entire body is connected in one big system. So we want to treat it like one big system and work on getting strong and bendy all over, not just in one area.
The more well rounded we are, the better we’ll feel.
Which I guess is a pretty good metaphor for most things in life – including motherhood.
We need that delicate balance between Mean Mom and Fun Mom or else all hell will break loose one way or another 😉
So treat your body as a whole and it’ll be easier to make that back pain go away.
I hope you find the relief you’re looking for.
P.S. What’d you think of this one? Was it a gooder? If so, please share it with your mama friends. Thank you!