A lot of women deal with low back pain. I am a STOTT PILATES Certified Instructor and I also have training in prenatal and postnatal exercises. I have worked with several women in their pregnancy and after. During pregnancy, the workout has different objectives and it is important to understand what is needed, what modifications to apply, and how each pregnancy can be different requiring specific exercises to address special needs and what to avoid. After pregnancy, there are also special concerns depending on how active the woman has been during pregnancy, any complications, etc. In any case, it’s important to note that the joints and ligaments will still be loose for about 3 to 5 months. Knowing the correct postpartum exercises can make a huge difference.
So why is low back pain such a common problem for pregnant and postpartum women?
I read an article a couple of days ago about the “triple whammy” of having a child. I’ve summarized below some of the highlights – which makes sense:

  • Pregnancy
  • Delivery
  • Childcare
  1. Pregancy:  There is weight gain during pregnancy which is mainly distributed in the abdomen which creates an increase in lumbar lordosis (extensive curve in the low back). This strains the joints of the lumbar spine. Along with low back strain, there is hormonal changes that relax ligaments and joints which prepare the pelvis for delivery. Both of these can cause low back pain.
  2. Delivery:  So after nine months here comes the baby!  Delivery options are either vaginal or cesarean section.
    1. Vaginal delivery is the natural delivery. This delivery involves expansion of the pelvis to allow passage of the baby through the birth canal.
    2. Cesarean section option requires surgery which involves the muscles of the abdominal wall.
  3. 3. Childcare:  So after nine months of pregnancy and the delivery, a lot has happened to a woman’s body. Now taking care of the baby starts … another sweet adventure but not without mental and physical stress. As a new mom or new parents rather – there is not much time for rest and not much time for the new mom to recover! Somehow, new moms just know what to do and get through it, but not without sleep deprivation. So sleep is a rarity at best. Lack of sleep puts a great deal of strain on the body … on the back. Some of the tasks involved that cause back issues are not only carrying the baby, feeding the baby in awkward positions (bad posture), installing the car seat and removing the car seat or even the detachable carrier is a load on the low back – “OUCH”. Carrying the diaper bag with everything in it except the kitchen sink. So keep in mind, the deep spine muscles called the multifidis and deep abdominal muscles called the transverse abdominis are extremely weak. Doing Pilates, these muscles are a main focus during pregnancy and after. Also, the pelvic floor muscles, upper back and let strengthening.

So, there you go! Triple Whammy!
~ Shelia Cowart
Image courtesy of kdshutterman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net