Leg pain and back ache during pregnancy are a common phenomenon. There are various reasons which cause the aches and pains. The good news about this is that your baby is growing, although it comes with a lot of pain and discomfort. Lets learn more about Combating Leg Pain & Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy.
Causes of Leg Pain And Backpain During Pregnancy
The most likely causes of your aches are as follows –
Weight Gain During Pregnancy
In a healthy pregnancy, you are most likely to gain about 10-15 kgs. Your spine must support that weight. The weight of the growing baby and your uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels and nerves of your pelvis and back causing lower backache. The pressure also pinches your sciatic nerve and causes the pain to run down the back of your legs.
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Posture Changes During Pregnancy
Pregnancy causes a shift in your center of gravity. This results in you adjusting your posture and the way you move causing a strain on your back. Accorfing to NHS you should avoid lifting heavy objects right from your 1st trimester.
Hormonal Changes During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body makes a hormone called ‘relaxin’ which relaxes the ligaments in the pelvic region and makes the joints looser in preparation for the delivery process. This hormone also causes the ligaments that support your spine to loosen leading to instability and pain.
As the uterus expands during pregnancy, the two parallel sheets of muscles – the rectus abdominus – which run from your rib cage to the pubic bone, tend to separate along the center seam causing severe back ache.
Stress During Pregnancy
Emotional stress can cause your muscles to be tense in the back. This tension is then felt as pain or back spasms. This pain increases whenever you face stressful periods in your pregnancy.
Fluid Retention & Oedema
Raised hormone levels cause your body to retain water during pregnancy. This causes your feet to get swollen and you feeling bloated. Your growing uterus puts pressure on the veins carrying blood back from your lower body partially blocked blood flow and retaining the fluid in your legs and feet.
Combating Leg Pain & Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy
Dealing with the pains during pregnancy can be very stressful. With the added weight and the pressure of the growing baby, the pains just cause a lot of added stress and strain. Try the following to help ease the pain and reduce the swellings.
Elevate your feet
Keep your feet raised upto 6-12 inches above the level of your heart for 15-20 minutes atleast 3-4 times a day. This helps in easy flow of blood back to your lungs and heart.
Sleep on your side
During pregnancy, try sleeping on your sides and not your back as this helps relieve the pressure on the vena cava. The vena cava is the largest draining vein leading to your heart.
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Dehydration tends to worsen swellings. Consume plenty of fluids in different forms to stay hydrated.
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Monitor your weight
While it is normal to gain about 10-15 kgs during pregnancy, excessive weight gain aggravates swellings and can lead to other complications.
Walk for about 15-30 minutes daily for staying fit and active. This improves the blood circulation and aids in the proper flow of blood back to the heart. Regular exercise like walking, swimming helps ease the stress on your spine and strengthens muscles boosting flexibility.
Hot and Cold Fomentation
Applying hot and cold fomentation to your back or ice to your ankles may help with the pains. Cold compresses on the painful area for upto 10-15 minutes help relieve the pain.
Improve your posture
Slouching causes strain on your spine. Use proper posture while working, sitting, or sleeping. Maintain a good posture to relieve the stress off your back and legs. E.g. Use a pillow between your knees while sleeping on your side to relieve the stress off your back. While sitting at your desk, do not let your legs hang. Rest your feet on a stool or a stack of books. Sit up with your shoulders and back straight. Wear a support belt to ease the pain. This is one of the best ways to Combating Leg Pain & Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy.
Try rotation exercises
Sit with one leg raised. Rotate that ankle 10 times to the right and then 10 times to the left. Repeat these 10 times in your other leg as well. This helps improve the circulation around your ankles and reduces swelling.
Stretching exercises and prenatal yoga helps increase the flexibility in your muscles that support your back and legs. Prenatal yoga also helps improve your balance and stay limber.
Learn some relaxation techniques to calm yourself and feel relaxed. They can help cope with the discomfort and pain. Relaxation techniques are useful during bedtime when your pain does not let you sleep.
When should you visit your doctor?
If the pain becomes unbearable and lasts for more than 2 weeks, you must visit your physician immediately.
Also, if you experience the following along with your aches, you must consult your doctor for further guidance.
- Your pain is severe and is progressively worsening or is caused by trauma.
- You have fever, vaginal bleeding or a burning sensation when you pass urine.
- There is tingling or loss of sensation in one or both legs or you suddenly feel weak and cannot move.
- If the pain is sudden and wasn’t there before the third trimester, then it could a sign of preterm labour.
- If the pain is accompanied with fever, nausea, vomiting or giddiness.
While slight aches and pains are normal during pregnancy, any pain is a discomfort. Feel free to talk to your loved ones to help understand your pregnancy better and deal with the pain in a better way.
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