This week I had an interesting conversation with one of my pregnancy massage clients. She said that everyone talks about the pain of childbirth but no one tells you about the pain during pregnancy. It got me thinking about the conversations around pregnancy and she was right. How often do we talk about the common pains in pregnancy? Generally, the conversation is about a sore lower back or swollen feet. We forget about the other pains that come along with a body full of relaxin, the hormone helping all of those ligaments loosen up.
Lower Back Pain
Ok let’s start with the most common pains in pregnancy. Lower back pain begins as a result of the change in centre of gravity. We have a large wait growing out the front of our bodies and putting extra pressure on our lower back as it arches and muscles contract to counteract the load. When sitting, we can help by placing a step under our feet to take pressure off the lower back. While standing, try a step under one foot to give the back a little support. Pregnancy Massage can help to relieve the tightness in the muscles. While exercises to the glutes and lower back can help strengthen those muscles under pressure.
There are a few reasons for pain in the hips as those hormones get to work in this area. We can experience pain in the front of the pelvis where the ligament at the pubic symphysis is loosening. Pain can occur when your hips are twisting during movement. Pain in the back of the hips also occurs as a result of the sacro-iliac joint ligaments loosening with Relaxin. The gluteal muscles may tighten, also causing sciatic pain, as they work to support the hips. Pressure from side lying during sleeping may also contribute to hip aches.
Care must be taken when rolling over or getting in and out of the car. Try keeping your knees together to support these joints and to prevent that twisting action. A maternity support belt may be recommended to give greater support to the area. Until relaxin has settled in the body, support and prevention are your best ways to avoid pain. Pregnancy Massage can help relieve overworked muscles in the hips and provide you some relief. Improving your hip strength will also help support the area.
Shortness of breath is not something you expect to occur so early in pregnancy. However, our dear hormonal friend progesterone begins to relax the lungs early, as we increase our blood volume and oxygen intake. There may be times where this becomes painful, stressful and worrying as we try to get enough air in. Focusing on diaphragmatic breathing will help provide a deeper breath, also reducing the anxiety that comes with it. During the early months, you may also be experiencing ‘morning sickness’ resulting in frequent vomiting. You may not realise the impact that the constant upchuck movement is having on your diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Gentle stretching and deep breathing can help to ease this muscle tightness to improve the effects of vomiting on your body.
Later in pregnancy, the size of your uterus and kicking baby will have the greatest impact on your ability to breathe. Practicing deep breathing from an earlier stage in pregnancy will have you in a good position to relax and take the deepest breath available to you. However, it’s never too late to start. Pregnancy Massage can help to gently release the abdominal muscles and muscles between the ribs to help allow more space for baby and breathing.
Round Ligament Pain
As the uterus grows during pregnancy, the round ligament is working to support the uterus. As you grow, the ligament is stretching to continue to provide support. It can present as a sharp pain in either one or both sides of the lower abdomen, or in the groin. The best way to ease the pain is to rest, put your feet up and take some pressure off the ligament. Pregnancy Massage can help to ease the pain through gentle touch through the hips and abdomen. We would focus more on you bonding with the baby with abdominal massage, relaxing your mind and allowing your body to rest to allow the natural stretch to occur.
Mid Back and Neck Ache
Our belly is not the only area that is growing in our bodies during pregnancy. Often one of the early pregnancy signs is enlarged breasts. This growth continues as the body prepares for breastfeeding. This growth can put further pressure on the neck and mid back as your posture changes, bringing the shoulders forward to compensate. Pregnancy Massage can help release the muscles of the chest that shorten as a result of the rounded posture. We can also work on easing pain in the muscles of the mid back feeling the strain. Gentle stretches to the chest and neck will help prevent further pain and improve your posture for the duration of your pregnancy.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
In pregnancy, some women experience tingling, numbness and pain in their hands. This condition can occur outside of pregnancy when the space where your nerve travels through the wrist is restricted. In pregnancy, often swelling is a culprit for restricting this space in the wrists. We can ease the pain and numbness through gentle massage to help with movement of fluid from the wrists, while easing any muscle tension in the forearms which may be contributing. Gentle stretches to the forearms can help, as well as taking care when sleeping not to flex your wrists, further restricting that space.
Cramping in Calves
I’m sure many pregnant women will share their stories of being woken up at night with a painful cramp. I know it usually involves me swearing in pain and my husband wondering what is going on in his half asleep state. While it’s funny to look back on, at the time it’s terrible. Often it’s the simple movement of pointing your toes that sets it off. There’s many theories out there as to why cramping occurs. Generally, we find that stretching the calves, keeping hydrated and resting with your feet up all help with easing cramping. Pregnancy Massage can help to relieve tight and tired calf muscles, especially if you are still on your feet regularly while pregnant.
While every pregnancy is different and each women will experience different symptoms, let’s open up the conversation about pain during pregnancy. Also know that while you may have pain, there is help available. Pregnancy Massage and Exercise with the qualified therapists at Evolution Health Services will give you the tools you need to enjoy a more comfortable pregnancy experience. We are passionate about helping to support you in pregnancy and beyond. We aim to give you advice for your individual needs, so please get in touch today to book your appointment or contact us with any questions.