MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information
PREGNANCY BACKACHE - OH MY ACHING BACK!
By Dennis Denlinger
Mama, you are about to have a young'un. Now is the time to plan for when the baby growing inside your belly starts getting heavy. If you have done this before you may remember the back and hip pain. If this is your first time, you have undoubtedly heard that it is something to dread.
No longer. You can possibly now say, "Good-bye to the back ache." There is new information about how our body's muscles and bones work which you can use to chase that ache clear over into the next county, never to return. Let's get started in your education. Remember, this is just education. Consult with your health care provider prior to trying it on yourself.
Ligaments are the strong, tough white material which holds bones together at the joints. Take a look at the ligaments next time you cut into a raw chicken joint. It is very tough material. If the chicken, or you, didn't have the ligament material holding your bones together, at night when you sleep and your muscles are relaxed your bones would get mixed up in a terrible jumble. The nose bone could be down by your waist and your knee cap could be dangling from an ear. You get the idea.
Muscles have the job of keeping the bones together at joints during the day. Sometimes the muscles do not do their job. Well, since they are voluntary muscles, it might be more accurate to say that you don't make your muscles keep the bones together at the joints.
Let's do an experiment. Hold your arm out in front of you with the palm down. Let the wrist flop down on the stop. Use your other hand to press on the back of the flopped wrist, forcing it to bend more. Now, don't hurt yourself. Just press enough to see that the wrist will hurt. You do that? Okay. Let go but keep your arm out there with the palm down.
Next contract the muscles on the top of your arm so that your hand comes up and the wrist isn't bent quite so much. Once again, press on the back of your hand with the palm down bent wrist with the other hand. However, this time use the muscles in the arm to keep the wrist from bending any more. Do not let it go down on the stop. No matter how hard you press, the wrist will not hurt.
Relax. Put your arms down. Here is the theory. Since ligaments are made to carry the load across joints when muscles are relaxed, they need a signal system to let the operator of the body (ie, you) know when they become overloaded.
A similar thing happens in your car. When the brake system breaks there is a light on the dash board and a beeper which lets you, the driver, know repair is needed. In your body that signal when your joints become overloaded is pain, and you need to take the load off the joints.
Okay, you might say, "But, I don't have time to lay down!" So true. Nature has taken that into account. Read on.
Why do the back and hip joints hurt during pregnancy, and especially when the baby becomes big? Here's more theory.
The baby leaves the mother's body by pushing the two sides of the pelvis apart. The pelvis is really two bones: one on each side of the body. It is the big bone where the legs join into the body. You can feel the top ridge of the pelvis around the back just below the waist and you can feel the place where the two sides meet in front at the top of the crotch.
The two sides of the pelvis are normally held firmly together with ligaments. These ligaments are so tough that the baby would have a tough time getting out if nature didn't soften up the ligament material before birth. In the softening process, the ligaments can't carry so much load, so the muscles have to do the job. If you don't make your muscles hold the joints together at the pelvis and hips, the ligaments will stretch and hurt.
There are muscles across the bottom of the crotch and between the legs and the pelvis which, when contracted, carry the load. Making those muscles work will relieve the stress on the ligaments.
Those muscles have to be exercised before the baby starts getting heavy. If you wait until it hurts it may be too late to strengthen those muscles enough to do any good before the baby is born. How do you strengthen them? Well, just use them during your daily activities. It is a habit which needs to be built up. They should really be used all the time, baby or no baby. But, that isn't all.
We still have to look at the back. That can hurt worse. We will do some more models with your hands. In this model we will look at the spine in the area of the neck. You just have to realize that the lower back works similarly.
Make a fist. Stick out your index finger. Point the index finger down at the desk in front of you. Make the hand go down so the tip of the index finger touches the desk. In this model the fist represents your head and your index finger represents your neck. The back of your hand is where your nose would be.
Let your (index) finger bend slightly, but no more. Now, press down with your arm forcing the finger to bend, but resist by trying to keep it straight. Now, bounce up and down. Feel the spring action. This one way the spine is designed to absorb shocks. Yes, it has other ways, but we aren't looking at that now.
Next, relax your finger allowing it to bend as much as possible. See how the ligaments on the back of the finger - front of the neck - are stretching? Put on more load and the ligaments will hurt. Remember the wrist demonstration? Same thing here.
Now, on your lower back the same thing happens. That is why it can hurt. You are putting on a load forcing the lower back to bend more to the front and the ligaments are stretched and hurt.
But, there is even more. The womb, the baby's current home, is fastened to the middle of the lower back with a very strong, thick ligament. As baby gets bigger and heavier, it pulls on that ligament more and more. It forces Mama's back to bend forward more and more. That Can Hurt!!!
Nature has a cure. Using muscles Mother Nature provided, you may be able to straighten out your back, taking the load off the ligaments. In so doing, the muscles on your stomach contract, carrying the load of baby. Also, in so doing, your back is prepared to absorb shocks, just as your neck is in the demonstration we did with your hand and index finger. Pretty nice system, uh?
So, you might wonder, how do I work these nifty muscles? It took me 3 months to find them - even though they were right there all along. I just had to discover how they work.
Does this work? Here is the statement from one Mom:
As a musician with a history of neck and back problems, I had no idea how much weight a baby would put on my back during my first pregnancy. I was extremely fortunate to have Dennis' help with my lower back and hip muscles. Without this data, I would have been a mess!
Since I was pursuing a natural home birth, I had to be in good shape. Daily fast walks were needed and simply would not have been possible without knowing how to use my muscles correctly - especially in the last 3 months! Carrying a heavy baby (nearly 10 lbs.), I still felt healthier than ever in my 9th month! I experienced virtually no back pain the whole pregnancy (and the only times I did have pain were when I used my muscles wrong). My second pregnancy was likewise a breeze, even when the baby was late and riding low in my pelvis for a few weeks! Especially at that point this data was a life-saver, as you can imagine!"
Dennis Denlinger is an architect. He currently runs several businesses out of his home office and is a single Dad to his two children Ryan and Lindsay.
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