Pregnant & Cramping in My Back

Pregnancy backache
You may feel back cramps. (Image: Martinan/iStock/Getty Images)

The general aches and pains of pregnancy are mostly nothing more than annoyances, but sometimes, they're an indicator of a deeper problem. Between 50 percent and 80 percent of pregnant women experience various types of back pain during pregnancy, suggests Spine-Health.com. By understanding the difference between daily, mild cramps and cramps that herald the arrival of labor, you'll know when to treat your back cramps at home and when to call your health care provider.

General Cramps Vs. Contractions

Knowing the difference between a contraction and a general back cramp helps you know when you should call your doctor of visit labor and delivery. A typical, general back pain during pregnancy usually manifests as a dull, constant ache in the small of the back. Changing positions and moving around often helps to reduce the pain. Contractions are more rhythmic, stopping and starting frequently, and no amount of changing positions stop them from occurring. If your back cramps are contractions, contact your doctor immediately.

Causes

General back cramps are the result of your changing body during pregnancy. An altered sense of gravity and carrying more weight on the front of your body requires your back to hold more weight. After a long day of standing or walking, your lower back feels cramped and sore. As your pregnancy progresses, your body releases the hormone relaxin, which relaxes your joints in preparation for labor and delivery. This results in a lack of support for your already-sore back.

Prevention

Stop back cramps from happening by taking care of your body during the day. Practice good posture and take time to set and support your back when you've been standing for a long period of time. Wear supportive shoes, avoiding uncomfortable heels and elevate your feet to remove the pressure from your back whenever possible. When lifting various objects, squat to lift with your knees rather than your back muscles.

Treatment

When your back cramps at the end of a long day, apply a heat pad or take a warm bath to help release some of the seized muscles. It's fine to take acetaminophen, but avoid ibuprofen or aspirin, as they affect fetal blood flow. When sleeping, it's helpful to arrange pillows around your body to help support your back as you sleep.

If your cramps are identified as contractions rather than a simply sore back, count the amount you experience in an hour. If you have more than five contractions in an hour, contact your doctor or go directly to labor and delivery.

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