Pregnant woman doing push up to manage back pain in early pregnancy

If you’re experiencing early back pain during your first trimester—you’re not alone. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for women to suffer from lower back pain during the early stages of pregnancy due to the rapid changes occurring in their bodies.

Fortunately, you don’t have to accept the aching back pain you’re currently feeling as the “new normal” until your baby arrives. Take a look at this overview of all the reasons you may be suffering from back pain during your first trimester—and how you can relieve the discomfort.

Common Reasons for Early Pregnancy Back Pain

  • Postural changes— As your baby grows, your abnormal muscles will begin to stretch. As these muscles stretch, they won’t be able to contract as well to keep your back in proper alignment.
  • Relaxin hormones— During the first trimester, your placenta and ovaries begin to produce a hormone called “relaxin,” which loosens the ligaments in your pelvis to prevent premature birth. Since your ligaments hold your joints together, your joints lose their normal stability, which may result in lower back pain.
  • Center of gravity shift— Once your baby develops substantial mass and your breasts begin to swell at the end of the first trimester, you may notice increased back pain. This phenomenon is due to a shift in your center of gravity. Since your pelvic muscles and core muscles are focused on supporting the extra weight in front of you, this creates a significant strain on your back muscles.

Easy Tips to Relieve Pregnancy Back Pain

1. Exercise

You may have heard the myth that it’s only safe to exercise at the same level you did before you were pregnant. While this does hold somewhat true, it is slightly misleading.

For example, if you did CrossFit before your pregnancy, it’s safe to keep doing CrossFit while you’re pregnant. However, if you weren’t working out before your pregnancy, it’s better to begin a brand-new exercise program than to not do anything at all. Studies show that the benefits of exercising during pregnancy, even if you weren’t active before, far outweigh the risks of an immobile pregnancy. For instance, active mothers are less likely to develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy—proving that moving your body is always worth it!

That said, exercise is also an excellent way to relieve pregnancy back pain. Exercise improves your blood flow and circulation to reduce swelling, strengthens your muscles, and helps you to maintain a healthy pregnancy weight—all crucial factors for managing back pain.

Whether you’re at the gym or in your living room, you can incorporate these exercises into your routine to relieve back pain:

  • Bridges: Maintain core strength and glute strength
  • Squats: Prepare the pelvic floor muscles and legs for delivery
  • Pushups: Help with postural stability and holding your baby after delivery

2. Deep Breathing & Awareness

When the relaxin hormone is released during pregnancy, it’s common for your muscles to “clench” or “grip” to account for your loosened ligaments. When you perform deep breathing exercises, you will be able to relax and loosen your clenched muscles, which can relieve lower back pain during the first trimester.

It’s also essential to find a way to stay active that doesn’t worsen your pain, which requires awareness. It’s normal to feel slight pressure while working out, especially if you’re trying something new, but it’s not normal to feel sharp pain. For example, if you’re performing a bridge exercise, you may feel a bit of discomfort during the first set, but once your body adjusts, you should feel normal. If you feel sharp pain, you should stop the movement immediately.

If you persevere through severe pain during your workout, you may worsen your back pain and cause other complications. Instead, you should feel confident and trust your ability to know your body’s limits, which will empower you to have successful workouts during your pregnancy—and of course, a successful delivery!

3. Distributed Tension

If you’re having pain in the right side of your lower back, you would assume the right side is tight, right? Surprisingly, that’s not true. Typically, the symptoms (or pain) manifest themselves on the opposite side of what’s tight—so if your right lower back is experiencing pain, you should be focused on supporting your left lower back. The same goes with lower back pain—if your lower back is in pain, your upper back likely needs support, too.

This phenomenon is why it’s critical to distribute the tension in your body to relieve lower back pain. If you simply focus on relieving lower back pain, other areas of your body, like your upper back, will begin to suffer. Yoga is a great way to distribute tension in your body because it encourages stretching, balance, and mindfulness.

Prepare for a Successful Pregnancy with Moment of Truth Physical Therapy

If you’re committed to staying active, deep breathing, developing awareness, and distributing your body’s tension, you likely won’t experience back pain during the first trimester of your pregnancy. You’ll also be able to identify the signals your body sends you, resulting in an easier pregnancy and a confident delivery.

To learn more about managing back pain during your first trimester, schedule your free discovery session with the knowledgeable, compassionate team at Moment of Truth Physical Therapy in Phoenix, Arizona!

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