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Solutions for baby backaches

Bookmark and Share During pregnancy, your body undergoes an amazing transformation, which could be called a temporary remodeling project to make room for baby. At the same time, however, those miraculous changes can take a toll on your back.

"About half of pregnant women experience back discomfort," according to Rose Magness, MD, Virtua obstetrician and gynecologist. "As long as the pain doesn't interfere with daily routine, it's usually nothing to worry about."

It's easy to understand why your back might hurt. The curve of the spine becomes exaggerated; the body's center of gravity shifts; abdominal muscles stretch; and hormones cause joints and ligaments to relax.

Stay active
"Bed rest is not always the best treatment," says Dr. Magness. "I recommend a balance of rest and activity. While you don't want to overdo it, gentle stretches, walking or swimming will keep the body strong." Of course, it is important that women check with their physician before beginning any type of exercise.

Consider physical therapy
Your doctor may recommend seeing a physical therapist to safely and gently relieve pain. "Physical therapy can dramatically increase overall comfort during pregnancy," says Michelle Peshick, physical therapist with the Virtua Rehabilitation Network. "Water therapy is a great option because it strengthens abdominal and lower back muscles while relieving pressure on the pelvis and legs."

Rest sciatic pain
Sciatic pain is a sharp or shooting pain that runs from the buttocks down the back of the leg. It's often caused by pressure on the nerve from the growing baby. The simplest remedy is to lie on the side opposite the pain. "Occasional sciatic pain is normal," says Steven Kirshner, MD, co-director of the Virtua Spine Program. "However, severe pain is not. If pain becomes worse and more frequent, talk to your doctor who may recommend medications or a back brace."

When to worry
Although extremely rare, there are serious factors that can contribute to an expectant mom's back pain. Call your physician right away if back pain is accompanied by feelings of extreme weakness, numbness, incontinence or if pain limits daily activities.

So what can you do to relieve back pain — beside deliver? Your physician may recommend applying a hot-water bottle or ice pack, or taking acetaminophen to relieve pain. Here are three more strategies to make moms-to-be more comfortable.

Meet the Physicians

Steven Kirshner, MD, is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon who received his medical degree and completed an orthopaedic residency at Hahnemann University Hospital. He also completed a fellowship in spine surgery at the Texas Institute for Spinal Disorders. He is co-director of the Virtua Spine Program.

Rose L. Magness, MD, is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who earned her medical degree from The Medical College of Pennsylvania. She completed an internship at Abington Memorial Hospital and a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Albert Einstein Medical Center. She has been voted "Top Doc" by South Jersey Magazine and Philadelphia Magazine.