Childbirth and Back Pain – What to Ask Your Doctor about Your Body’s Changes

side view of pregnant woman's body (wearing a shirt)

On the wall of the studio where my wife practices yoga is a quote, “Struggles make you stronger; changes make you wiser.” But the changes she experienced after childbirth confused us both so much that neither of us felt either stronger or wiser.

In addition to everything that goes along with adding a new addition to your family, my wife experienced light incontinence issues, a postpartum depression scare, and the worst back pain that she has ever experienced throughout her entire life.

I could not bear to see her in pain. Part of my job as a writer is doing research. In my internet travels I found the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (http://www.bidmc.org/) and their advice about back pain.

The Importance of Asking the Right Questions

Based on the information on their website, my wife and I came up with a list of questions to ask her doctor. While you may not need everything on this list, here are the questions we took to her follow-up appointment.

  • What from childbirth is causing my back pain?
  • Is the pain significant enough to be part of ongoing damage?
  • What other symptoms should I look for to indicate a serious problem?
  • Is bed rest advisable when experiencing back pain?
  • What are the best treatment options if I am nursing my baby?
  • What exercises or medications are safest for a new mom with back pain?
  • Do you recommend any alternative therapies?
  • What steps can I take to prevent back pain from happening in the future?

Sure enough, on the day of her appointment I forgot the list but fortunately I had an extra copy of the questions in my iPhone. The doctor said writing down questions to ask and bringing them to the appointment was always a great idea.

That is because so many new parents are frazzled, and by the time they get to the appointment recalling the questions can be difficult if not impossible. You can even type them into your iPhone like I did, or make a copy using the voice recording feature as well.

Treatment for Postpartum Back Pain

Weight gain, posture changes, and hormones that affect your pelvic area and spine all contribute to back pain during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. Because you don’t lose all your baby weight overnight, this pain can linger for another few months.

The good news is that back pain is easy to treat. Your doctor may prescribe exercises to boost flexibility or to help make your muscles stronger. He might suggest that you visit a chiropractor, take up swimming, or work out on a stationary bicycle.

Another treatment for postpartum back pain is applying heat and cold to the affected area. Never try this treatment without consulting your doctor, as using the wrong type of heat or cold for the wrong period of time can hurt more than it helps.

Some other advice that my wife’s doctor gave included avoiding high heeled shoes, lifting and bending with her legs rather than her back, wearing support hose, and sleeping on her side with a pillow between her knees.

Back Pain and Incontinence

Along with back pain, another common change that occurs after pregnancy is a type of incontinence called stress urinary incontinence. It causes urine leakage when something like sneezing, coughing, laughing, or exercise puts pressure on the bladder.

Childbirth weakens the muscles of the area of a woman’s body called the pelvic floor. But that is not the only reason why incontinence happens. Women can experience stress urinary incontinence due to the following reasons as well.

  • Overstretching causing damage to the nerves which control bladder function
  • Movement of the urethra and bladder during the later stages of pregnancy
  • A cut in the pelvic floor, called an episiotomy, which allows for an easier delivery

A new mom’s doctor may send her to a stress urinary incontinence doctor for specialized treatment such as behavior modification or perhaps a prescription for medication that can help regain bladder control.

However if back pain accompanies incontinence then it is more important than ever to report it to the new mom’s doctor. That is because the two symptoms together can be a sign of a bigger problem, and it is better to rule out something serious than risk trying to live with those issues.

About the Author

Freelance writer Benjamin Baker is a writing addict. This research hound always uses the best websites like www.bapelvicsurgery.com as research for the articles he writes. However Benjamin’s first love is his family and when he is not working he enjoys spending time with his wife or checking out junk yards and antique shops with his sons in search of manly relics.

Earnest Parenting: help for new moms who are concerned about back pain.

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