Postpartum depression. Weight gain. Tender breasts. There’s a whole gamut of physical and psychological changes a woman experiences upon giving birth. One area I see unrepresented: back issues.
A woman’s pelvic bones shift to prepare for the growing fetus. That alone is 9 months’ work of alignment changes! Ever wonder why women often experience urinary incontinence post childbirth? It’s often due to the misalignment of those pelvic bones during the perinatal period.
Pain is another effect of that pelvic misalignment; since our bodies are like a Rue Goldberg machine, an off-kilter pelvis can easily throw our spine out of whack.
Growing up, I remember childbearing women complain about their swollen ankles (edema), larger shoe sizes, and even their hair falling out post birth.
By the time I was pregnant with my first child, I thought I knew all there was to know about the underbelly of pregnancy and childbirth: everything from the fluctuating hormones to the fluctuating weight; the heartburn to the headaches; the breast tenderness to the clogged nipples.
I attended the birthing classes, took the requisite prenatal vitamins, and heeded my obstetrician’s advice.
But no one warned me of the bigger picture that was whispering to me each day from the start of my pregnancy: back pain.
“I have back pain,” I told my doctor. I was a few months into my first pregnancy.
“Yes, that’s to be expected.” He suggested going for walks and moving a tennis ball on my lower back.
Some days in the pregnancy, the back pain was so bad, I only found relief on all fours.
Our pain may start out as a whisper, but if you don’t heed its warning, it will only grow louder.
Fast forward, that oldest child is almost 19 years old today. The whispers that began when he was in utero are now loud and clear: an MRI revealed I have a herniated disc and 3 bone spurs. The pain in my lower back had screamed loud enough for me to cancel a work meeting last minute, my back spasming like labor pains.
Immobile, I listened to what my body had been trying to tell me all along. The back had literally been tapping me to get some TLC for decades.
I want better for you.
Whether you are reading this as an expectant mom or someone suffering with the whispers of back pain, I share with you what I wish someone had told me: pregnancy alters our pelvic and spinal structure. If you are experiencing pain now that comes and goes, please don’t ignore it or push past it like I did. Your body is trying to help you NOW. The earlier you address the pain, the more mobility you will experience in the future.
A happy body is one that is heeded.