Pregnancy Pains: “Normal” Versus “Common”
Regularly overheard in my office are things like “This is just part of pregnancy, right?” “My doctor says it will go away when baby’s born.”
Although aches and pains during pregnancy are common, they are not necessarily normal or something you have to put up with through your whole pregnancy. Sure, you may not be breezing through every movement like you did pre-pregnancy, but it is not normal to be in pain with every move you make.
There are so many changes that happen to your body during pregnancy and there is a combination of factors that leads to the common pregnancy pains such as low back and pelvic pain that many of us experience during pregnancy.
This is the hormone that allows for the pelvis to shift enough during delivery to help your beautiful babe to be born. The tricky part is that relaxin is with you throughout your pregnancy and after. This means that the ligaments in your pelvis have softened to allow for more movement. For some mamas-to-be this can be one of the unwelcome symptoms of early pregnancy, creating pelvic instability, which may create nerve pressure on the nerves exiting your lower spine leading to pain in the low back, hips, pubic bone and even down your legs.
This means that the ligaments in your pelvis have softened to allow for more movement.
Shift in Center of Gravity
You may have noticed that as you progress through your pregnancy, you’re arching your low back more as you try not to tip forward with the weight of your growing bump. This is a natural adaptation that your body makes to allow you to continue to walk around and move. This change in position can mean irritation to the joints in the back of your spine (facet joints) or sacroiliac joints (SI joints) due to the increased demands on the joints. This pain often brings with it inflammation as a result of friction in the joint if it is not moving properly when you move.
Remember our good friend relaxin? It’s time to give our bodies some credit here, instead of leaving us hanging (literally), the body will actually call on your leg and hip muscles to tighten up and counteract some of the effects of the relaxin. The problem is that if these muscles are not properly conditioned or if the joints they are trying to support are not in the right position, they will end up tight, tired and weak and unable to do their job. In some cases this muscle tightening will actually pinch nerves in the pelvis and low back creating more pain. One cause of sciatica is compression of the sciatic nerve in the piriformis muscle, which runs from your sacrum to the hip joint.
In some cases this muscle tightening will actually pinch nerves in the pelvis and low back creating more pain.
Pressure and weight from baby
As your little one grows, the muscles of your pelvic floor, the sling of muscles running from the front of your pelvis to the tailbone, experience more stress. Depending on your little one’s position, the severity will vary. Your baby may be in a position that places more pressure on the ribs, round ligaments in the front, or on the sciatic nerve- another cause for sciatic pain during pregnancy.
Changes in gait
Many women begin to notice the infamous “waddle” in the last few weeks of pregnancy. With all of these loose joints and postural adaptations, it’s no wonder your walk has changed! When gait patterns change, we begin to use the muscles in our legs and hips differently, which can mean additional tightening in the hips, legs, or IT band, a band of muscle that runs right down the outer part of your thigh. If you start to feel pain in the hips, knees or feet it is likely because you’re using all of these differently than before and your body is getting used to the new way of moving.
How do we remedy these issues? Check this out…
Read about safe exercise in pregnancy.