Postanatal care: How to ease back pain after delivery


Postnatal exercises should target the pelvic floor and the core. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

I have heard from many mothers that back pain and discomfort after pregnancy is the new normal. Well, this is maybe one of those things that shouldn’t be the status quo at all.

Studies show that up to 50 percent of pregnant women experience back pain that might continue for up to six months after delivery. And about 37 percent of women continue to experience back pain even 18 months post-pregnancy.


There are many changes in the body from weight gain to increased flexibility in the joints and skin that allows the body to stretch and accommodate the baby. During birth, the pelvic joints are encouraged by the hormones to open up and allow the baby to be born.

Even with a cesarean section the hormones still influence the pelvis and joints.

The resultant strain on muscles and ligaments would in turn bring pain and discomfort.

How do you know?

The typical signs and symptoms to look out for are:

Lower back pain that is centred at the base of the spine, near the dimples. This is especially true after standing for long periods or carrying out manual work.

Some mothers also experience difficulty bending or coming back from a bending position while others report pain along the side of the waistline and inside the hip joint.

Upper back, neck and shoulder pain, especially after sitting for long periods and a feeling of pain, tenderness or soreness on touching the lower back region are also common as is hip pain and discomfort with numbness down the leg.

Epidural pain?

The epidural injection is administered as a pain killer during the birth process. The pain at the injection site should clear after 1-10 days, but some women tend to experience it months later. This can be remedied with some local heat application at the lower back.

Any previous weakness or injuries of the musculoskeletal system can be made worse during and even after birth. For example having fallen months or years before the pregnancy, accidents and injuries can be felt more because of the changes going on in the body.

So what to do about it?

First observe proper posture when bending, sitting, standing and breastfeeding. Ensure to support and protect the back by using proper mechanics in lifting and using a breastfeeding pillow.

For a pregnant mother exercises help to strengthen the body and can be done at prenatal classes (Lamaze classes).

Postnatal exercises should target the pelvic floor and the core such as Kegel exercises.

Activities such as walking, swimming, and yoga are simple yet holistic exercises that allow for the body to regain strength.

In some cases of prolonged pain and discomfort, more specific assessment and treatment by a physical therapist will address and help you manage the cause of discomfort.

Joy Waihenya, a Physical Therapist at Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Health Centre

[email protected]

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