Many women suffer with pregnancy back pain at night. This type of night back pain in pregnancy is called nocturnal back pain. You may have it on its own, or concurrently with low back or sacroiliac pain.
There are a couple of different theories as to why night back pain develops during pregnancy. One theory is that it is caused by muscle fatigue from being active all day. By the end of the day, your body becomes more fatigued, and thus you feel more discomfort toward the evening hours.
The second theory is that nocturnal back pain is due to water retention. This can lead to edema and an increased volume of blood. This additional water in the body can place pressure on the spinal nerves and muscles, resulting in backaches.
Some women have very severe back pain while sleeping during their pregnancy. The most important thing you can do is to avoid sleeping on your back during pregnancy. Lying on your back, or in the supine position, compresses major arteries and veins, namely the inferior vena cava and the aorta. This decreases circulation and allows fluid pressure to build up in the pelvis, which places pressure on the spinal nerves.
As your fetus grows, it also puts more and more pressure on your arteries and veins. The farther along you are in your pregnancy, the more important it is to avoid sleeping on your back. The healthiest sleeping position for you and your baby is on your sides. Resting on your left side will place the least amount of pressure on your spine.
In addition to side sleeping, supporting the uterus can help alleviate night back pain. To properly support your uterus, lay on your side with pillows under your abdomen and between your legs. This will help to support your uterus and keep your spine in a neutral position. There are several wonderful pregnancy pillows that can help to make sleeping much more comfortable.
It is also important to make special efforts during the day to adjust your posture in ways that will help prevent muscle fatigue. Be sure to take frequent breaks from standing or sitting. If you must sit or stand for long periods of time, elevate one foot on a low stool or foot rest. Also, wear good, supportive shoes, and avoid wearing high heeled shoes, which place extra strain on the back.
It is also possible to manage pregnancy back pain at night by maintaining a regular exercise program. Regular exercise will help strengthen and support the spine, therefore helping to minimize strain and muscle fatigue. Exercise and postural adjustments will help to minimize night time back pain, but may not completely prevent it.
Many women find pain relief in alternative approaches such as acupuncture and massage therapy, though this relief may be only temporary. There are a variety of gentle hands on techniques that can be performed at home, which are also beneficial for relieving pregnancy related back pain.
Unfortunately, anti-inflammatory medications such as motrin, advil, and aspirin are contraindicated during pregnancy. The only pain reliever considered safe during pregnancy is acetaminophen.
Soaking in a hot tub or whirlpool is not recommended during pregnancy. You may however find a warm, not hot, bath can soothe your sore back. Try adding Epsom salt to a warm bath to help relieve pain.
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Orit Cox is a Holistic Health Practitioner and massage therapist in San Diego, CA and content writer for PregnancyMomandBaby, an information resource for pregnancy and mothers. Orit is also the author of The Pregnancy Pain Guide. Click to discover easy-to-implement techniques to relieve back pain from pregnancy.
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