I did not have back pain during pregnancy. Here’s what I did.

July 21, 2023 0 Comments

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Pregnancy can be accompanied by many symptoms. Although every pregnancy is unique, one common feature of the constant changes our bodies go through is back pain and backaches during pregnancy.

This is actually by design. Our bodies display an enormous amount of natural intelligence during pregnancy. The curves of the spine adapt to the extra weight along the front of the body, which puts stress on our anatomy. As we adjust to each stage of pregnancy, our movement patterns change. We look and feel different when we bend, sit, stand and walk.

Our tissues are also filled with the hormone relaxin, which causes significant relaxation of the ligaments before childbirth. This can create a slight structural instability in the pelvic girdle, and the muscles around the lower back and hips can become tighter to compensate.

All of these can cause or contribute to stiffness, soreness, tightness, and even lower back pain. Although we can’t always predict how our bodies will adapt to the physical and hormonal changes that occur, certain yoga poses can stretch and strengthen the muscles of the lower back, glutes, and thighs in a way that avoids pain.

The following sequence is what I practiced during my 37 weeks of pregnancy and it helped me feel no pain and only a little discomfort during the last few days. The movements help build stability, mobility and flexibility in a way that supports your lower back, sacrum and hips as your body continues to change.

Practice yoga to prevent back pain during pregnancy

Always consult your healthcare provider before beginning a physical yoga practice. This is especially important during pregnancy.

(Photo: Bernadette Soler)

1. Easy pose

Sit comfortably cross-legged or sit on the edge of a chair. Stretch the top of your head toward the ceiling to create a straight spine. Begin to pay attention to the long, slow, smooth flow of your breath. Deepen your breath gently and gradually. Feel yourself sitting higher with each breath, lifting the top of your head. If you normally use Ujjaya breathing as part of your regular yoga practice, start to develop it now.

(Photo: Bernadette Soler)

2. Dynamic posture of the child

Get up on your knees. Place your knees wider than your hips to accommodate your belly so you can move in and out of child’s pose comfortably. As you exhale, gently round your lower back and press your hips into your heels in child’s pose, bending your elbows and lowering your forehead to the floor. (You can use a prop, such as a folded blanket or block, to support your forehead.)

(Photo: Bernadette Soler)

As you inhale, bring your chest back to your hands and knees and gently lift the front of your chest forward and up, slightly emphasizing the arch of your upper back. Repeat this 6 times and then stay and rest in Child’s Pose for 4-6 breaths.

(Photo: Bernadette Soler)

3. Bird dog

From Child’s Pose, return to your hands and knees, positioning your joints so that your knees are directly under your hips and your wrists are directly under your shoulders to create a stable base for your balance training. As you inhale, raise your left leg straight back until it is parallel to the floor with the foot bent and extend your right arm forward until it is also parallel to the floor. On exhalation, return to the starting position. On the next breath, repeat on the other side. Do 3 rounds of this exercise, alternating sides. With each successive round, you can lift the heel, arm and front of the chest a little higher to continue to emphasize even more power along the back of the body.

(Photo: Bernadette Soler)

4. Balancing the toes

From your hands and knees, inhale and lift your left leg straight up and back until it is parallel to the floor. Bend the foot bent. Exhale and keep your leg straight, slowly lower it and tap your toes on the ground. Inhale and slowly raise your straight leg. Repeat this 4 times, moving slowly with your breath and feeling how your back, glutes and legs work. Pause to rest before repeating on the other side.

Repeat between hands and knees and Child’s Pose. See if you can feel warmth, circulation, or even a little more lightness when you stretch your lower back after working those muscles.

(Photo: Bernadette Soler)

5. Dynamic supported lying position at a limited angle

To create back support, place one block at the highest level behind the mat and the second block at the lowest level in front of it. Place a roller or sofa cushion on the blocks on the slope.

Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet on the mat comfortably hip-width apart and wide enough to accommodate your growing belly. Put your hands on your stomach.

(Photo: Bernadette Soler)

As you inhale, slowly spread your knees to the sides until your feet come together and your knees are spread wide apart. Exhaling, carefully engage the inner thigh muscles and slowly bring the knees to the starting position. Repeat this 4 times.

Then rest with your knees wide apart and feet together, take 6 breaths. You can place blocks or folded blankets under your knees for extra support. Feel your inner thighs gently stretch as you stay in the position, taking long, smooth, relaxing breaths. Feel your belly rise and fall under your hands as you breathe.

(Photo: Bernadette Soler)

7. Savasana lying on the side

If you are still comfortable in your supported lying angle, you can stay there for Savasana. You can prop a roller under your knees for support and continue to rest on your back. Or place your feet on the floor, return your knees to the starting position, and rest for a few breaths before slowly rolling from the support to your left side. Place a pillow or blanket under your head, and a pillow or roller between your knees. Rest here for 3 minutes.

When you are ready to come out of Savasana, move slowly and carefully. Use your hands to help you sit up and take as much time as you need to transition.

About our contributor

Bernadette Soler is a certified yoga therapist and teacher in the Viniyoga lineage. She is dedicated to the study and practice of yoga and has a gift for applying ancient techniques to our modern lifestyle. Bernadette has over ten years of teaching experience and believes that a daily yoga practice can be life-changing to unlock your potential. She is deeply indebted to her teacher, Gary Crafts, for preserving and transmitting the teachings of yoga in an authentic and timeless way.

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