Let’s be honest. Your pregnancy can be exciting and full of change and expectations, but it can also be pretty uncomfortable some of the time. That’s because you’re growing a baby, which affects almost every system in your body, causes surges in hormones, and triggers profound physical changes as your baby grows.
While some women may sail right through their pregnancy without a hitch, others may experience pain or discomfort of one kind or another. At BodaHealth, our practitioners are well-trained and experienced in treating a wide variety of pain conditions, and those that occur during pregnancy are no exception. Below are some of the most common pregnancy-related complaints that we treat.
Headaches can be a common issue for many pregnant women, especially during the first and third trimester, but for different reasons. During the first few months of your pregnancy dramatic hormonal changes plus increased blood volume can trigger frequent headaches. During your third trimester, headaches are more likely to be triggered by the physical challenges of carrying your growing baby. Postural changes, neck pain, and shoulder tension may cause headaches. If you’re struggling with high blood pressure or preeclampsia, you may experience headaches later in your pregnancy, too. Other changes that may trigger headaches during your pregnancy include stress, fatigue, low blood sugar, dehydration, and withdrawal from caffeine.
For women who have migraines, pregnancy can be a mixed bag. Some find that during their pregnancy, their migraines are greatly reduced, but others say they have as many or more migraines. If you are a regular migraine sufferer, it’s important to discuss with your midwife or OBGYN what migraine medications are safe to take during your pregnancy.
Safe medications to take during pregnancy are an issue whether you have migraines or if your headaches are new. Many medications for pain, such as aspirin or ibuprofen are to be avoided during pregnancy, which makes finding natural ways to relieve your headaches a high priority. This is where acupuncture can help.
Acupuncture has a long history of effectiveness in treating all kinds of headaches, and pregnancy-related headaches are no exception. Researchers studying the effects of acupuncture on headaches during pregnancy found that the subjects that had acupuncture reported less pain, less use of medications, better mood, and improved sleep, compared to those who did not have acupuncture. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1876382012000510
Neck and Upper Back Pain
A great deal of attention is placed on low back pain during pregnancy, but many women also struggle with neck and upper back pain during this time. While this type of pain can occur at any point in your pregnancy, it’s more common during the last few months. There are a number of causes for late pregnancy neck and upper back pain. Among them:
- The gain in weight over a fairly short period of time strains your muscles, especially in your back.
- The weight of your growing baby shifts to the front of your body, which causes your upper back and neck to compensate, making them work harder and increasing the likelihood of strain.
- Hormonal changes later in your pregnancy cause your ligaments to loosen in preparation for labor. This puts an additional burden on your back. It also creates some instability in your pelvis and low back, further straining upper back muscles, as they work to stabilize your spine.
- Your breasts become larger during your pregnancy, which can change both your posture and weight distribution, further taxing your upper back and neck.
Ironically, the nature of pregnancy is that as your ligaments are becoming looser and placing more demand on your muscles, your growing body makes it harder to be physically active. Fatigue and decreased mobility during your last trimester often make exercise the last thing on your To Do list. However, at BodaHealth, massage therapy, Pilates sessions, and acupuncture treatments are all tailored to help you become pain-free, retain your range of motion, and maintain your strength as your pregnancy progresses.
Low Back Pain
The good news is that your baby is developing, but the bad news is that it can be tough on your lower back. Low back pain during the later months in your pregnancy is common, and is most frequently felt where your spine and pelvis meet. While weight gain, hormones, and postural changes are frequently the culprit behind low back pain, there are a few others:
- Your growing baby and uterus can put press against the nerves and blood vessels in your back.
- The hormone relaxin that causes your ligaments to become looser in preparation for labor and delivery also relax the ligaments that support your spine. This joint laxity combined with weight gain and your changing center of gravity can be a recipe for lower back pain.
- As your baby grows and your uterus expands, two sheets of muscles, called the rectus abdominis, that connect your rib cage to your pubic bone may separate along the center line of your abdomen. These muscles are core stabilizers, and when they separate, they also become weaker, which can cause or aggravate back pain.
While it may be reassuring that lower back pain is common during pregnancy, it’s still uncomfortable. This is where BodaHealth shines. We have practitioners who can offer a variety of treatments which are effective in helping relieve low back pain to make your pregnancy more comfortable.
Pelvic Girdle Pain
Your growing baby and uterus cause the most change in your pelvis, or pelvic girdle. The stretching and shifting of muscles and ligaments, as well as your changing center of gravity can be uncomfortable and at times painful. During your second trimester, something called your round ligament can be a common source of pain.
Your round ligament is connective tissue that supports your uterus. It runs from the front of your uterus downward and attaches to your groin. The round ligament tends to tighten and stretch slowly. As your uterus grows and stretches, your round ligament is stretched, which can aggravate it. As a result, sudden movements that force the ligament to move quickly can be painful. Many women describe the pain as sharp and short-lived in the lower abdomen or groin, and it can occur when you stand up, cough, sneeze, or any other movements that make the ligament contract rapidly. www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/round-ligament-pain-during-pregnancy/
As your baby grows, it can put pressure on your sciatic nerve. This is a large nerve that runs from your spine, through your butt, and down the back of both legs. If your sciatic nerve becomes compressed, you may feel a deep and achy pain, numbness, or tingling anywhere along the trajectory of the nerve. In most cases, as you get closer to your delivery date, your baby will shift position, which should alleviate the pressure on the nerve, and ultimately your pain. www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/hip-pain-during-pregnancy/
Sometimes the hormone relaxin does its job a little too well in relaxing your joints and ligaments. This is the case with something called pubic symphysis dysfunction. Your pubic symphysis is a joint located between your pubic bones. Late in your pregnancy, it should relax and loosen with the rest of your pelvic girdle. However, sometimes, the joint at the front of your pelvic becomes too relaxed too early, which can cause instability and severe pain, especially when you walk, put weight on one leg, cross your legs, go up or down stairs, or do weight-bearing activities. The pain with pubic symphysis dysfunction is usually felt in the front and center of your pubic bone, but it can also be painful at the tops of your thighs, or your perineum. The pain associated with this condition often gets worse as your pregnancy progresses, but generally resolves after you’ve given birth. https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/symptoms-and-solutions/symphysis-pubis-dysfunction
Treating Pregnancy Related Pain at BodaHealth
At BodaHealth, we want you to have smooth and healthy pregnancy. However, with all the changes to your body that pregnancy brings, sometimes you need a little help. Depending on the nature of any symptoms that you may be having and their underlying cause, we are able to offer you a number of treatments to help keep you as comfortable as possible.
The research on the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat pelvic girdle and lower back pain during pregnancy is clear. A number of studies have documented that acupuncture treatments can relieve low back and pelvic pain in pregnant women. In some studies, women who had acupuncture reported increased ability to perform physical activities, and a decreased need for pain relieving medications. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14995919
Acupuncture is effective in treating pain for a number of reasons. Scientists have discovered that acupuncture boosts your body’s own opioid-like pain modulation system. It also increases the circulation of feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain that help to improve mood, reduce depression, enhance sleep, and help relieve pain. Acupuncture also enhances the circulation of blood and nutrients throughout your body, to help relieve muscle stiffness and improve your range of motion.
At BodaHealth, our acupuncturists have extensive training and years of experience working with women throughout their pregnancy. They take your unique health history into account and develop a treatment plan that’s customized to your needs.
As an adjunct to acupuncture, BodaHealth has several massage therapists on staff who are extensively trained health care professionals that know how to pair their treatments to your condition for the best outcome. Therapeutic massage is very effective in the treatment of soft tissue disorders, and it helps to reduce and eliminate pain. For best results, our massage therapists offer myofascial release, friction, deep tissue and Swedish style massage.
At BodaHealth, we also offer Pilates as a way to manage pregnancy related pain. Pilates is an exercise system that combines low impact, strength, flexibility, and endurance. It focuses on correct posture, building core strength, and muscular stability. Our practitioners have special training and are experienced in safely working with pregnant women. Their goal is to help you maintain function and manage discomfort.
As a part of our commitment to effective treatment for women who are experiencing pregnancy-related pain, we also offer the services of an osteopath. Our osteopath has specific training in hands-on techniques to reduce pain and improve your mobility. Her focus is to treat structural imbalances related to your changing body, as well as to relieve joint restriction, correct misalignment, and promote circulation throughout your body.
We have a long track record of helping women during every stage of their pregnancy, and we’d love to help you. Give us a call today if you’d like to know more about BodaHealth and what we have to offer and how we can help make your pregnancy more comfortable.