MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information
"For Informational Use Only"
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Backache is common in pregnancy, often rooted in poor posture. The increase in body weight, the muscle-relaxing effects of the hormone progesterone, and the shift in the center of gravity contribute to the problem.
To prevent low back pain, avoid strain whenever you are lying, sitting, standing, walking, working, and exercising. Most importantly, keep your stomach and back strong and flexible through regular exercise.
POSTURE: With correct posture, your internal organs have room to function normally, and blood circulates freely for best total fitness. When standing, an imaginary line dropped from your ear should go through your shoulder, hip, the middle of your knee, and the front of your ankle. Your lower back should be flattened, not swayed back or slouched forward; this creates minimum strain on your back muscles.
LIFTING: Squat directly in front of any object to be lifted; rise, letting your legs and thighs do the work. Keep the object you are lifting close to your body, and do not twist. Never try to lift anything you cannot easily manage - get help!
STANDING: Standing for long periods of time can put a lot of stress on your back. If you must stand, occasionally shift your weight from one side to the other. Or, try propping one of your feet on a footstool six-to-eight inches high.
SITTING: Sit in firm seats with straight backs, keeping your back flat and knees higher than your hips. Rest your feet flat on the floor or on a footstool, or cross your legs so at least one of your knees is higher than your hips. When driving, sit close enough to the steering wheel that your lower back is flattened and perpendicular to the floor, and knees and hips are bent.
SLEEPING: Sleep on a firm, flat mattress. It is best to sleep on your side with your knees and hips bent and a pillow under your head, or on your back with pillows beneath your head and knees. If you must sleep on your stomach, place a pillow under your hips to reduce the curve in your lower back (do not sleep on your stomach in late pregnancy). Another tip - watch out for waterbeds. Many do not offer the support your back needs.
SEX: Anyone with back trouble should avoid stress on his or her back during sex. Two possible positions - both partners on their sides facing the same direction (front to back), or the person with back pain on his/her back and the other partner on top (a pillow under the hips can provide extra support).
BACKPACKS & SORE BACKS: Among students, heavy backpacks are a common cause of back and shoulder pain. Try carrying a backpack over both shoulders, or at least alternate your pack frequently from one shoulder to the other.
WEIGHT LIFTING: Before working with weights, have an expert demonstrate proper techniques. Incorrect squats can be particularly dangerous - never let your back arch. If you have back trouble already, stick with low weights and high repetitions. Make sure your back is supported with a board, bench, or seat back. Weight belts are wide leather belts that offer support to the lumbar region, but may not be useful during pregnancy. Do not do weight-lifting during mid-to-late pregnancy or not at all during pregnancy to be on the safe side.
TENSION & STRESS: While tension or stress is not often the primary cause of back pain, it can certainly worsen pain and make you more prone to back problems. If this is a problem for you, learn stress reduction techniques.
EXERCISE: Exercise can be an excellent way to strengthen your body to prevent back pain, or to work your back into shape as part of your self-treatment. Some suggested exercises are listed here. IMPORTANT: Do not do these exercises if they cause you pain.
SOME HELPFUL TIPS DURING PREGNANCY
To minimize back pain during pregnancy, do not stay in one position for a long period of time.
Pay special attention to your posture. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your back as straight as possible at all times. Use chairs that provide good back support in your home, at work and in your car. Avoid overuse of bucket seats in cars. They are known to cause problems with malpositioning of the baby during late pregnancy (posterior presentation - face up instead of face down) and promote "slouching". Use a back support if you have bucket seats in your car. Do not slouch on your couch, loveseat or other household chair.
Include two to three minutes of gentle stretching exercises in your daily routine. Do not do any forward-bending or strongly upward-stretching exercises. These can pull muscles and ligaments and cause a great deal of discomfort.
Do not wear high heeled shoes. High heels throw your center of balance off and puts more strain on your back.
When your back hurts, try soaking a small towel in Apple Cider Vinegar. Squeeze off any excess and lie down on your side. Spread the towel directly across your back. Relax this way for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Visit your chiropractor often for an adjustment. Visit a massage therapist and have a massage. This is great for relaxation and tension that builds up in your back muscles. Make sure you find a practitioner that is familiar with pregnancy issues.
Sleep on a firm supportive mattress at night. Use pillows to support your abdomen, back and legs while sleeping.
Lift heavy objects using your knees and not your back.
Heat applied to your back is relaxing. A warm bath, a hot shower, a hydroculator, a hot water bottle, a towel dipped in hot water or wet and warmed in the microwave, a rice filled sock heated in the microwave are all helpful and will provide temporary relief for most backaches.
Backache relief products such as Tiger Balm, Olbas, Zheng Gu Shui, Wintergreen oil and other homemade or purchased herbal liniments and rubs can penetrate into deep muscle tissue and relieve tension and pain. They work best if followed by moist heat.
St. John's Wort (also known as St. Joan's Wort) is highly effective in relieving backaches. The tincture is a specific for muscle spasms. Use 15 to 25 drops in a glass of water every few hours as needed. For severe cases, add 3 to 5 drops of Skullcap tincture. The infused oil of St. John's Wort has the unique ability to enter nerve endings, relieving pain and easing any nervous system irritation.
Wheat Grass juice (alone or in combination with other Greens) is highly recommended for all ills, including backaches. The bright green juice contains plentiful nutrients needed to strengthen muscles, ease the nerves, and keep the spine flexible. To prepare the juice: soak wheat berries overnight, drain off the water, and spread the wheat one berry deep onto an inch thick layer of dirt on a cookie sheet with edges. Water the whole thing several times a day. Harvest the green shoots by cutting them when they are several inches high. Use a special wheat grass juicer to extract the most juice, or blend the shoots with water in your blender, then strain and drink the liquid.
Nettle infusion is excellent for toning and aiding kidneys (that may be causing back pain).
Comfrey infusion provides every vitamin and mineral necessary to prevent backaches. It is also rich in amino acids, the building blocks of protein, needed in plentiful supply for strong abdominal muscles and healthy babies.
Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin B-Complex, all are needed when backache is a problem. Eat nutritious foods or take natural supplements of these when flair-ups occur. Consider taking a whole foods Prenatal Multi-Supplement daily during pregnancy and lactation.
Unless otherwise specified, the following recommended doses are for adults over the age of 18. For children between the ages of 12 and 17, reduce the dose to 3/4 the recommended amount. For children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old, reduce the dose to 1/2 the recommended amount. For children under 6 years old, use 1/4 the recommended amount.
If you are pregnant, consult your health care provider or midwife before taking any dietary or herbal supplement to make sure it is safe and appropriate for use during pregnancy and to recommend appropriate dosages (requirements may change for some supplements during pregnancy).
NUTRIENTS Supplement Suggested Dosage Comments
DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA) Take daily every other week, as directed on label. Helps to alleviate pain. Caution: Do not take this supplement if you are pregnant or nursing, or suffer from panic attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, or PKU. Calcium 1,500 to 2,000 mg daily. Needed for strong bones. To assure absorption, use a mixture of 3 different forms: calcium carbonate, calcium chelate, and calcium asporotate. Magnesium 700 to 1,000 mg daily. Works with calcium. Use magnesium chelate form. Vitamin D 400 IU daily. Aids in absorption of calcium and magnesium. Multi-Vitamin & Multi-Mineral Complex As directed on label. To supply a balance of nutrients important in formation and metabolism of bone and connective tissue and needed for healing.
The vitamins and minerals in iron free Multi-Vitamin & Multi-Mineral supplements play many important roles in the body: antioxidants to protect fats, cells and DNA, coenzyme precursors for energy production and metabolism, and cofactors for hormones and enzymes which regulate body processes.
Multi-Vitamin Supplement Products Multi-Mineral Supplement Products Vitamin A 15,000 IU daily. If you are pregnant, do not exceed 10,000 IU daily. Needed for tissue repair and immunity. Plus
Natural Beta Carotene
15,000 IU daily. An antioxidant and precursor of vitamin A. Needed for tissue repair and healing. And
400 to 600 IU daily. To supply a balance of nutrients important in formation and metabolism of bone and connective tissue and needed for healing. Silica
3 times daily, as directed on label. Supplies silicon, which improves calcium uptake. Vitamin B-12 2,000 mg daily. Aids in calcium absorption and digestion. Use a lozenge or sublingual form, if available. Injections are given only by a health care provider.
Vitamin B-12 is linked to the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Important in making myelin, the substance of which the sheaths covering the nerves are made.
Vitamin B-12 Supplement Products Zinc 50 mg daily. Do not exceed a total of 100 mg daily from all supplements. Required for protein synthesis and collagen formation. Promotes a healthy immune system. Plus
3 mg daily. Works in balance with zinc and vitamin C to form elastin, and is needed for healthy nerves. Boron 3 mg daily. Do not exceed this amount. Improves calcium uptake. Take boron only until healed, unless you are over age 50. Glucosamine & Chondroitin Sulfate
As directed on label. Studies have shown these are important components of many body tissues, including bones and connective tissue. Free-Form Amino Acid Complex As directed on label. Essential in bone and tissue repair. L-Proline 500 mg daily, on an empty stomach. Take with water or juice. Do not take with milk. Take with 50 mg Vitamin B-6 and 100 mg Vitamin C for better absorption. Heals cartilage and strengthens muscles and tissues. Manganese 2 to 5 mg daily. Take separately from calcium. Aids in healing cartilage and tissue in the neck and back. Use manganese gluconate form. MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) As directed on label. Aids with inflammation. S-Adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) As directed on label. Methionine derivative. Eases arthritic pain. Caution: Do not use if you have manic-depressive disorder or take prescription antidepressants. Essential Fatty Acids As directed on label. Take with meals. Needed for repair and flexibility of muscles. GlucosaMend As directed on label. To supply glucosamine, an important component of many body tissues, including bones and connective tissue. Glucosalage SO4 As directed on label. To supply glucosamine, an important component of many body tissues, including bones and connective tissue. Multi-Enzyme Complex
As directed on label. Take with meals. To aid digestion and relieve muscle tension and inflammation. Papaya Enzyme As directed on label. To relieve symptoms. Use chewable tablets form. Acid-Ease Take 2 capsules 3 times daily at the beginning of meals. Acid-Ease may also be taken as needed between meals. A soothing plant-enzyme and herb formula for sensitive stomachs that aids in the breakdown and assimilation of foods. Digestive enzymes plus soothing herbs - This unique formula provides digestive enzymes that help your system break down and absorb foods. Pure Plant Enzymes are combined with gamma oryzanol (found naturally in rice bran), slippery elm bark, and marshmallow root extract in a soothing supplement for even the most sensitive digestive systems. Vitamin B-Complex As directed on label 3 times daily, with meals. Needed for repair and to relieve stress in the back muscles. Use a high-stress formula high in Vitamin B-6 (Pyroxidine) and Vitamin B-12. Plus Extra
As directed on label. Needed for normal brain function and to correct deficiencies. Plus
Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9)
400 to 800 mcg daily or as recommended by health care provider. Affects the repair of DNA. Has been linked to cancer protection. To prevent anemia and aid in proper digestion and absorbtion of nutrients. Folic acid is found to be deficient in people with depression. Women need 400 to 800 mcg daily for normal function and to prevent neural tube defects in a fetus if they become pregnant. Brewer's Yeast As directed on label. A source of B vitamins. Vitamin C
3,000 to 10,000 mg daily in divided doses. A powerful free radical scavender. Essential for formation of collagen, which holds the tissues together. Needed for repair of tissues. Relieves tension in the back area.. Rutin 200 to 300 mg daily. Take with food. Rutin is a buckwheat-derived bioflavonoid antioxidant. Enhances vitamin C absorption.
ACUTE LOWER BACK PAIN RECOMMENDATIONS
STRETCH & EXERCISE SAFETY
Keeping your core muscles limber is as important as keeping them strong. Two good stretching exercises are the knee-to-chest and the hamstring stretch. To do the knee-to-chest, lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Bring one knee up to your chest and use your hands to pull the knee close while flattening out your back; then repeat with the other knee. The hamstring stretch is done from the same starting position. Pick up one leg with both hands placed behind your knee and then straighten your lower leg. These stretches should be held for about 20 seconds and repeated five times. Be sure to warm up before you stretch.
Stretches & Exercises To Avoid: One of the worst stretches for a person with back pain is bending over to touch your toes while keeping your legs straight. Even worse is bouncing while trying to touch your toes. Other bad stretching exercises are ones that require you to bend or twist with any type of weight in your hand. Number one on the list of bad-for-the-back exercises is the full sit-up. This is the type of sit-up done with the hands behind the head and legs out straight, and it puts too much pressure on the lower back. You should also avoid straight leg lifts done with your back on the floor. Jogging can be jarring. Any type of high-impact aerobic exercise requires caution. Examples of high-impact aerobics include jogging or running (especially on a hard surface), tennis, some types of dance, and any other exercise that jars or twists the spine. If you cannot maintain your spine in a neutral position during aerobics, you may not be able to protect your back and prevent pain. Also avoid any contact sports or sports like volleyball, soccer, snowboarding, and trampoline that put too much strain on your back, leading to a backache.
DECIDING TO SEE YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER OR NOT
Before you try any self-help treatments, you can determine whether you need to see a health care provider immediately by taking this test: While lying on a firm bed or mattress, straighten one leg and raise it 90 degrees. If you have pain radiating down your leg, seek medical help as soon as possible.
If your lower back is merely whimpering for help, try these treatments for fast relief.
HIT THE FLOOR: For this remedy you will need some floor space, a pillow and a small ice pack (a bag of ice wrapped in a towel or cloth will do.) Lie on your back on the floor and put a pillow under your knees - that raises them slightly, taking some of the pressure off your lower back. Now place the ice under the painful area for about 20 minutes. If lying on the ice is too uncomfortable, dispense with it. Just lying in this position will provide some relief.
CHILL IT DOWN: Ask your spouse or a friend to rub the painful area with ice for at least 20 minutes every couple of hours. Continue ice treatment until three days after the injury. In addition to numbing the pain and relaxing muscle spasms, ice also reduces swelling.
HEAT IT UP: You may also benefit from moist heat applied to your achy back. Try using either a hot-water bottle or a towel that has been soaked in hot water. The warmth increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the injured area, which speeds healing. Because heat can promote swelling, do not use it until 72 hours after the injury,
S-t-r-e-t-c-h IT OUT: Once your homemade anesthetic (ice) has kicked in, gently stretch your back. The best technique in an emergency is to lie on your stomach (do not do in late pregnancy), then bend your arms, placing your hands flat on the floor directly under your shoulders. Slowly raise your torso onto your elbows for ten seconds, lower your body and repeat. This movement forces nutrients and oxygen into the disks of the lower spine and forces out waste products like lactic acid, helping ease muscle spasms.
HIT THE HAY: For severe lower back pain, bed rest is of some value, but the amount must be limited. In fact, for every three hours that you are down, health care providers say you should be on your feet for between 20 minutes and an hour. Health care providers know the detrimental effects of staying on your back. You lose calcium from your bones and your muscles begin to weaken.
TAKE A WALK: Some people seem to improve by taking a short walk. The reason: Unlike sitting, walking reduces the amount of stress on your lower back.
KILL THE PAINKILLERS: If you can avoid pain killers, do so. Prescription pain relievers will help the most severe cases of back pain. But try limiting their use to two to three days after an injury and always consult your health care provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. These powerful, addicting narcotics merely treat the pain and not the cause. Many health care providers will not allow their patients to use them.
CONSIDER ASKING FOR AN INSAID: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are available over-the-counter (consult with your health care provider before using any medication or supplement if you are pregnant or breastfeeding). These medications help reduce the swelling often associated with muscle and other soft-tissue injuries. Aspirin is one form of NSAID, but you may also consider taking ibuprofen, which is thought to be a more powerful NSAID.
TRY A CHIROPRACTOR: Either a chiropractor or an osteopath is capable of manipulating your spine to help alleviate back pain. Both use x-rays and detailed patient histories to make their diagnosis. Osteopaths are licensed to prescribe drugs, but chiropractors are not. About 50 to 60 percent of all back problems can be seen once or twice for manipulation and be resolved if treated by a qualified chiropractor or osteopath. If you are pregnant, try to find a practitioner experienced with expectant moms.
TAKE TENS: If your back pain just keeps on coming back, you might want to ask your health care provider about transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a small but powerful emergency back pain treatment. Electricity from a compact device courses through electrodes taped to your back, stimulating the lower back muscles and ending spasms. Although not a muscle strengthener, TENS units may also be used after surgery to help reduce pain.
BEATING BACK PAIN AT WORK
You undoubtedly feel safe sitting at your desk in that air-conditioned office. But did you know you a're just as likely to develop lower back pain as someone who works outdoors? In one study, researchers discovered that women who worked in offices had the same kind of degenerative back changes - like loss of water from their spinal disks - meter maids, says Annie Pivarski, a back-care consultant and personal trainer in San Francisco who helped rehabilitate the back of San Francisco '49ers quarterback Joe Montana following back surgery in 1986. To keep from beating up your back at work, try these tips.
WATCH THE CLOCK: It is not enough to merely shift your weight in your seat. You have to move. Stand up at least once an hour and stretch. Here is one good stretch you can try - stand erect and place your hands on your lower back. Bend backward slightly by lifting your chest up and out. Hold, then relax and repeat. Now slowly increase your stretch by tilting your head back and leaning backward as far as comfortable. Hold the position for just a moment. Now slowly raise your head, then your body so you are standing erect again. Repeat.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER: Structure your work routine so that you alternate between standing and sitting. Anything that would allow you to change your position can help remedy this overuse syndrome.
PULL UP THE RIGHT CHAIR: Even so-called ergonomic (user-friendly) chairs can have a devastating effect on your back if they a're not right for you. If possible, get a chair that has an adjustable, contoured seat so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees. If the chair is too low, you will feel pressure on your tailbone; too high and you will feel pressure on your lower thighs.
If the chair has armrests, they should be adjustable so that your arms can rest freely at your sides. Armrests that are too long prevent you from you moving close enough to your desk, causing you to lean forward in your seat. Leaning forward causes more load on the lower back than just about anything else that people do. Kneeling chairs can also help reduce strain on the lower back depending on the tasks at hand. (Kneeling chairs are definitely not the answer for people who also have knee problems.)
SUPPORT YOUR BACK: Whether it is a specially designed foam roll or simply a small pillow placed at the small of your back when you sit down, lumbar supports help retain the natural curve of your spine while you are seated.
CHECK YOUR COMPUTER HEIGHT: If your computer screen is too low, you run the risk of leaning forward while typing and straining your back and neck. Leaning backward is not good either. A good guide is to make sure that the center of your screen is at chin level. A couple of old phone books placed under your monitor may be all you need to push your screen up to the proper level.
DRIVING DOS & DON'TS
Another place where your lower back can get into trouble is the front seat of your car. Frequent driving does not have to put you on the road to back pain. Consider these tips.
SITTING PRETTY: Instead of diving behind the wheel when you get into your car, back in and sit gently, then turn and swing your legs inside. Most people do not get in and out of their cars properly.
ADJUST YOUR SEAT: Ever notice the people who sit so low and far back in their cars that they can barely see over the steering wheel? They may look cool, but they are begging for lower back problems. What often happens is that in stretching out your legs, you pull your back away from the back of the seat and you start to slump. That is bad news for your lower back. Adjust your seat so you are sitting slightly reclined when you drive.
PROP YOURSELF UP: Available at most drug and medical supply stores, a low-back support is also helpful when riding in or driving a car, especially if yours has bucket seats. Avoid the wooden bead kind, she warns, as they can cause problems during an accident.
WATCH YOUR DRIVING TIME: Give yourself an hour. It may sound impractical, but health care providers suggest that after sitting in a car for an hour, you should take time to stop, get out of your car and stretch your back. Failing that, you can also shift your rear end from side to side, wiggle your feet and tighten your stomach muscles to help give your back a break.
BEATING BACK PAIN AT HOME
Backache is common in pregnancy is often rooted in poor posture. The increase in body weight, the muscle-relaxing effects of the hormone progesterone, and the shift in the center of gravity contribute to the problem.
Lower Back Support Garments: Habitual Use May Cause More Harm than Good - Avoid over-relying on lower back and belly-support garments during pregnancy. Wearing a support garment on a daily basis inhibits the deep abdominal muscles and deep spinal muscles from doing the work intended for them, i.e., supporting your spine. When not worked, muscles will in fact weaken and atrophy-exactly what you don not want to happen.
Maintaining Strength Remains Superior to Support Garment Use - In order to support your spine and the growing weight of your baby, build and keep your internal girdle strong and supportive, rather than wearing a support garment. If by the end of the day, you find that you no longer have the stamina to support your lower back, then by all means, use a support garment to ease symptoms for short periods of time. If you do decide to use a back-support device, put it on while you are lying on the floor, with your pelvis and spine in the neutral position. Putting on any type of support garment on while standing with your pelvis and spine misaligned will not help your back.
Try stretching. Lying down with your lower legs resting on an ottoman or soft chair seat, or with both knees pulled up to the chest is also effective in relieving pain. Hold the position for a slow count of 20. Then return your feet to the floor and relax. You can also perform the stretch with one leg at a time. During pregnancy, watch for signs of dizziness in this position.
Instituting these back-saving steps at home will go a long way toward relieving repeated episodes of lower back pain.
SLEEP COMFORTABLY: From now on, before going to sleep, place one pillow under your head and two pillows under your knees. Alternatively, you can lie on your side with your head on top of a pillow and a pillow under your feet and lower legs. An additional small oblong or crescent shaped pillow can be placed behind and curved around the neck - it can be used to support the cervical spine located in the neck regions (especially helpful if you have recurrent neck pain and headaches). These positions will ensure a good night's sleep for you and take pressure off your lower back. Also, a firm mattress is better for your back than one that sags.
EASY TO BED AND EASY TO RISE: Bounding out of bed may be the stuff of business legends, but it is actually a good way to beat up your back. Why? While you were sleeping, the disks in your spine were filling up with water, making them plump and causing some stiffness in surrounding muscles. To protect against sudden moves that can cause microtears in the spinal disks, simply roll onto your side and push yourself up with your arms. Finally, swing your feet onto the floor.
BE SINK SMART: Bending over the sink to brush your teeth or shave can also strain your lower back. Instead of merely leaning into the effort, open the cabinet door below the sink and rest your foot inside. Then brace yourself with one hand. You can also put your foot on a small stool or box. Switch feet every few minutes.
GET A LEG UP: Instead of sinking into your favorite easy chair, reduce the strain on your back by keeping one knee higher than the level of your hips. One technique: Rest one foot on a stool in front of you.
EXERCISE FOR BACKACHE DURING PREGNANCY & AFTERWARD
Because a flexible back is usually a pain-free back, most health care providers recommend that your treatment include stretching. Here are some suggestions and exercises for your lower back protection plan. Always consult with your midwife or health care provider before starting any exercise program whether you are pregnant or not. Not all exercises and stretches are safe during late pregnancy and others may need to be adapted for your growing belly. Always start slowly and gently and work up as your body becomes more adapted to the program. If it hurts, stop. If you have questions, contact your health care provider, midwife, physical therapist or yoga instructor.
CAT STRETCH EXERCISE: The "Cat Stretch" can be done either on all fours, or standing with your hands on your knees. It is a great way to lengthen lower-back muscles. This can be practiced daily or whenever needed. Get on your hands and knees on a firm surface; inhale, let your head hang down and arch your back up like a cat. Exhale, lift your head all the way up and let your spine return to parallel with the floor. Continue flexing the spine up and down while breathing rhythmically. This exercise can also be done in a standing position.
THE CAT STRETCH EXERCISE
Get into the all fours position on the floor. You may find you need to put a thick blanket or a duvet down onto the floor to give some padding for your knees and hands. Make sure that your back is flat - women have a tendency to hollow the lower back, which tends to overstrain it. You may need to get your partner or a friend to check this, or check in a mirror. Make yourself as comfortable as you can - when you first begin to do this exercise you may find that you do not feel all that comfortable. Do not worry - your body will get used to it with practice. Close your eyes and begin to follow the movement of your breath as you breathe out and in. Slow your breathing down by breathing OUT a little more slowly with each out breath until you feel you are breathing deeply into your abdomen. As you breathe out become more aware of your baby (you may want to combine this exercise with the "baby breathing" exercise) - you may be aware of your baby moving. It is this all fours position, which shifts the baby's back so it is around the front of your body. After a while of resting, begin to explore what kind of movements you feel like doing - you may want to begin to crawl around the room. Crawling can help ease backaches. You may want to stay on the spot and rock forwards and backwards. You may want to circle your hips.
After a while, begin to move into what is called the CAT STRETCH. As you can imagine, this movement is rather like a cat arching its back. Begin by checking your back is flat and that your neck is in line with your spine. Focus your attention on breathing out deeply and as you do so, begin to drop your head so that your neck begins to extend. Push down into your hands and begin to lift and arch the whole spine from the neck down as you continue breathing out. At the end of the out breath you should be in the full stretch - like a cat arching its back, You may be aware of your abdominal muscles working. You may be aware of your baby being tilted away from your back. As you breathe in, flatten the spine from the base of the spine working up to the neck so that you end up in the flat back position. As you breathe out again, go into the arching movement, breathing in go into the flattening movement. And so on for as long as you want. Try to do this movement at least 5 times - but you can do it more if you feel comfortable.
This exercise is also useful for getting your baby into an anterior position to prepare for birth. Doing the following exercise for at least 5 to 10 minutes every day of your pregnancy, will not only help your baby settle in the anterior position, but also help tone your abdominal muscles and alleviate many types of lower backache. While it is never too late to start doing this exercise - it can even be helpful in labor - it is never too early to begin. If you start doing this early on, it becomes part of your daily routine, it becomes very comfortable and you are encouraging your baby to settle in the anterior position.
After you have done the cat stretch exercise, ease forward onto your forearms, let your head rest on your arms and let your bottom be up in the air. This is known as the knee to chest position. Make sure that your lower back is not hollowing. Breathe out and rest being aware of your breathing and of your baby.
EHow.com: Cow Cat Stretch Exercise Video To Reduce Back Pain
KNEE-CHEST TWISTS: Stretch the spine and keep it flexible. Once a day, or when needed, lie on your back on a firm surface and pull your knees to your chest. Stretch your arms straight out to the sides. Roll your knees to the left and your head to the right. Relax for half a minute, then roll your knees to the right and your head to the left and relax again. Repeat once or twice.
KNEE TO CHEST: Lie on your back and bring both knees to your chest. Hold the position for a slow count of 20. Then return your feet to the floor and relax. You can also perform this stretch with one leg at a time.
LATERAL TRUNK STRETCH: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Now cross your right leg over the left. Let both knees drop slowly to the right toward the floor. Take the stretch only as far as is comfortable for you and then hold the position for 10 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
HIP ROLLING: Lie on your back on a table, floor or other firm surface, with both knees bent and feet flat on the table or floor. Cross your arms over your chest. Turn your head and trunk to the right as you turn both knees to the left. Allow your knees to relax and go down without forcing. Bring knees back up, head to center. Reverse directions.
PELVIC ROCK: This can be done daily or as needed. Get on your hands and knees on a firm surface. Inhale, bring your head down, arching your back and tilting your pelvis forward with your bottom from the backside as if you are tucking it in toward you stomach. Hold for a few moments and exhale, while lifting your head up to look toward the ceiling, allowing your back to drop in a sway toward the floor and tilting your pelvis outward from behind bringing up your backside of the pelvis and bottom towards the ceiling.
PELVIC ROCK EXERCISE
1. Lying on back with knees bent.
2. "Rock" away hollow in back, tightening abdomen.
3. Relax, arching back.
4. May be done on all fours (hands and knees), too.
SUPPORT YOUR SPINE
You need to take care of the core muscles that support your spine. After you have stretched, you can increase your strength and protect against lower back pain with simple exercising. Those who exercise regularly can have half as many back injuries as their less-active colleagues. There are many exercises that do this, and your health care provider or a physical therapist should be able to give you specific advice and training for your unique back pain condition. A good good example of a safe strengthening exercise is the pelvic tilt.
PELVIC TILT: Lie on your back on a table, floor or other firm flat surface. Your feet are flat on the surface and your knees are bent. Keep your legs together. Cross your arms over your chest. Tilt your pelvis and tighten your stomach muscles until you can push your lower back to the floor, then slowly lift your buttocks off the floor as far as possible without straining. Maintain this position for 5 seconds. Lower your buttocks to the floor. Do not hold your breath. Repeat up to 10 times.
ABDOMINAL CURL: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Now slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor, keeping your eyes fixed on the ceiling. Hold this position for a two count, then slowly lower your head and shoulders back down. Repeat 20 times.
OPPOSITE ARM & LEG LIFTS: Lie on your stomach (do not do in later pregnancy) with your arms stretched out in front of you. Now lift your right arm and left leg several inches off the floor and hold for a count of ten. Rest and repeat, using the opposite arm and leg. If you recently suffered back pain, do the exercise only one or two times. As your strength increases, consider strapping on one-pound ankle weights and holding a can of soup in each hand.
GET IN THE WATER: An aerobic exercise is any exercise that uses the big muscles of your body in a rhythmic and repetitive way. Aerobic exercise can get blood flowing to your back muscles, which can really help them recover from injury and increase strength. Walking is a good aerobics choice for your back, but swimming may be even better if you get backaches. Swimming could be the best aerobic back pain exercise as water provides both support and resistance. Almost any exercise done in the water is beneficial and safe for back pain.
IMITATE A COBRA: Here is a simple yoga pose that can loosen your stiff back. First, lie facedown on the floor. Place your palms on the floor directly under your shoulders. Now gently raise your torso off the ground, supporting yourself with your arms and keeping your hips on the ground. Go just to the point of tension and then come all the way back down. Relax for a moment, then repeat the exercise several times, trying to go a little further each time. Do not perform the exercise if it is painful.
TAKE A WALK: Walking balances the mechanical stress on the spine caused by bending and sitting and allows the disks the freedom to move back into their proper position. Perform walking or other favorite aerobic exercise three times a week for at least 20 minutes.
UNTIE THOSE STIFF KNOTS: Place your hands in the small of your back, stand up tall and carefully lean backward without bending your knees. This moves your spine in the opposite direction of nearly all your activities, helping to balance the mechanical stress on your disks. If you work at a desk, repeat this movement twice every hour on the hour.
HEAT FOR RELIEF: Make it hot. In chronic back disorders, moist heat can help a stiff back. The warmth increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the injured area, which speeds healing and brings relief. Soak a towel in hot water, wring it out and place it on the stiff area of your back until it cools. One caution: Do not apply heat for the first three days following an injury.
CHECK YOUR BED MATTRESS: Do not be a softy. If your bed sags when you climb into it you might want to think about getting a new mattress. A mattress that provides firm support is usually kinder to your back and may help alleviate morning stiffness.
YOGA FOR YOUR BACK: Two all-around good exercise activities for back pain are yoga and working with an exercise ball. Yoga is great because, as long as your yoga instructor knows your limitations, it can be adapted safely for most people with back pain. Few exercises combine flexibility and strength as well as yoga. An exercise ball, also known as a Swiss ball, is a large, soft, air-filled ball that can be used for stretching and strengthening. You will need some training on how to use it, but there are hundreds of great exercises that can be done with an exercise ball. Check with your physical therapist.
Obtain a Video Tape or DVD of Yoga Positions, Tai Chi, or Belly Dancing. Practice the movements and the stretches as indicated.
YOGA EXERCISE PRODUCTS
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NOTIFY YOUR MIDWIFE OR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
If you or a family member has questions about pregnancy and backaches. If your pain lasts more than 72 hours. If your pain is so severe that it interferes with your work. If your pain seems to radiate to your legs, feet or toes. If you may want to consider regular maintenance visits to a qualified chiropractic provider experienced with pregnant clients.
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Pregnancy & Headaches
MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Backache Overview, Description & Treatment
MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Backache - Herbal, Nutritional & Holistic Recommendations
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MoonDragon's Pregnancy Concerns: Pregnancy & Backaches
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