Research has shown that almost 80% of women experience low back pain during pregnancy, and almost 69% of women report having low back pain after delivery which might continue for few months or years. In the developing countries, post-partum back pain is a major cause of disability and results in loss of working hours and healthy days for woman after pregnancy. Usually, woman is made to believe that pregnancy is the hardest part and post pregnancy discomfort, back pain, varicose veins and other pains are temporary and will magically disappear after the baby is out.
But really? Is it fine to make a woman feel that her back pain is the trophy she got for giving birth to a child, trophy which gives pain? If you think it’s cringy, then I would like to share some of my experiences related to this, don’t worry I wont rant even though I would love to…
Even with uncomplicated pregnancy I had lots of body pains after delivery, and it was so constant that I thought it will only go away with me.
After I had had my first baby, I suffered from constant back pain which radiated to lower back, hips and thighs. Unless I used to take pain killers, pain was constant and frustrating to deal with, later it got me depressed, which is the last thing you want when you just had a baby. Even though I am a doctor, constantly juggling between baby, work responsibilities and my health, that time, the only thing I could think for a fast relief were the painkillers. My gynecologist disappointed me as she never told me to take any precaution or about any exercise rather during my pre- and post-natal visits, she never mentioned that post pregnancy I will get back pain. Even when I complained about this repeatedly, she advised me to handle the pain with the help of painkillers as and when necessary, as according to her it is only temporary. I don’t know whether it was just my bad choice about gynecologist or all of them say the same. It saddens me to the core as where are we heading to? Is the fast relief with allopathic medicine the only relief? And is it good enough? What are the pros and cons? Is there any other way to heal or cure it permanently that too via non-medicinal way? Like most women I was under the impression that post baby mothers are ONLY supposed to make her baby a priority ignoring herself, like men ignore women in patriarchy society. But a mother cannot impart anything to her baby unless she herself has it first. Yes! It is important to address the issue. So, my dear precious mother before you goes into further guilt trip about ‘how dare I think about taking rest’ know that your baby depends on you and to take charge of that and to fight any infection you need to fill yourself with all the things that you can share with your baby like a good and healthy nutrition, rest, help and last but not the least ‘a laugh.’ Yup! You read it right, as I rarely get drunk and write. Trust me I am on your side because you always take your baby’s side and forget about yourself so here, I am taking a stand for you, every time you fall and rise. I will be right here…
Before I make you go crazy with my motherly love and proceed any further, it is important to get brief about what causes the back pain and its associated pains.
During pregnancy, increased hormones like progesterone, relaxin can lead to loosening of ligaments and joints of pelvic bone which causes back pain, though nature’s aim is to help the body during delivery to loosen up a bit and push out the baby. Post-delivery, these hormones stay in your body for few more months and causes post-partum back pain. We do know that pregnancy and childbirth are natural process.
If are you thinking I am going to mention some magical herb or superstitious advice (daadi maa ke outdated nuske: grandma magical antidotes) Certainly not! I don’t believe in any of B.S. Being educated means you are aware about what is wrong and what is right. What I am going to tell you are something you might already know or may be does not know. It is something so powerful and free to use that you will be able to claim your natural health like you were before pregnancy, healthy and wise, that too without any medicine unless you are having some chronic illness for which you need professional help.
What to do about it?
1) Nutrition: Your body has gone through so much that it is almost like a rebirth. You need time and right nutrition to recover through childbirth. Many experts say that you eat when you are hungry but like an overly tired child, tired mothers forget to eat. So, it is important to plan to stay healthy. A balanced and healthy diet can work wonders. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have recommended a few tips to guide you:
a. Grains: wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain are grain products. Examples include whole-wheat, brown rice and oatmeal.
b. Proteins: Prefer low fat lean proteins for example: nuts, fish, eggs, pulses, etc.
c. Dairy: It is rich in calcium. Milk and milk products belong to this group.
d. Vegetables or greens:
g. Supplements: for calcium and iron, etc. because you need to supplement the calcium and iron stores in your body which your baby is taking through you in breastfeed.
Caution: overeating can do more harm than good.
2) Rest: It is equally important as good nutrition. In the first few weeks, your newborn won’t allow you to take a sound sleep of 8 hours, but you can sleep while baby sleeps and let, others help you in chores.
3) Yoga: Many doctor advices not to do any weightlifting, bending on knees and spine, etc. for few weeks post-delivery. Stepping out for few minutes or going for a morning or evening walk is a good option. Remember to take rest if you don’t feel good. The most important element of yoga is breathing. I am more in favor of yoga rather than exercise as postpartum, doing yoga gives you more flexibility, choices, helps with your mood and puts less strain on your body and can be done at home in a small space while simultaneously playing with your baby. Exercise or yoga, motive is to be physically active. I believe shedding extra weight which you have gained pre-or during pregnancy is not a difficult task given the fact that you follow a good routine. The following yoga poses focusses on lower back pain and sciatica pain when maintained for 10-20 seconds daily has cured my back pain and other pains like sciatica like pain, leg pain or hip pain.
Start with small steps and in a week, you will see a great improvement. Remember there is no shortcut to it.