Is it normal to experience upper back pain during pregnancy?
Upper back pain is a normal and common occurrence during pregnancy, especially in the later stages. Upper back pain is particularly common between the shoulder blades, but may also be felt on either side of the spine in the ribs or around the neck. This pain may come and go, or be constant and can range from a dull ache to a sharp pain. Some women also experience numbness or tingling in the arms due to the increased pressure on the nerves.
There are some reasons why upper back pain can appear.
First of all, it can emerge due to the increased weight of the growing baby. As the baby develops and the uterus expands, your center of gravity shifts, which can lead to poor posture and muscle strain in the back. The extra weight of the baby can also lead to an increased curve in the lower back, which can put strain on the upper back muscles.
Second, hormonal changes during pregnancy can also cause the joints and ligaments to loosen, which can lead to increased pressure on the spine, resulting in upper back pain. The hormone relaxin is released in order to prepare the joints, bones, and muscles for childbirth, but it can also cause further instability in the back and lead to discomfort.
Finally, the emotional and mental stress that comes with pregnancy can also contribute to back pain. Stress can cause the muscles to become tense, leading to pain in the back and shoulders.
If the back pain becomes severe, you should address the doctor. You should pay attention to the fact that the pain can be accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, nausea, or redness and swelling. What is more, you should remember that back pain can be a sign of problems with the spine, so it is important to get it checked out.
What can be done to relieve upper back pain during pregnancy while sleeping?
When pregnant, you experience aches and pains, especially in the upper back area. This can make sleeping difficult or uncomfortable, and make it difficult to get a good night's rest. Fortunately, there are several steps that can be taken to relieve upper back pain during pregnancy while sleeping.
Supportive mattress or pillow
The first step is to make sure you have a supportive mattress and pillow. During pregnancy, your body is constantly changing, so it is important to adjust your sleeping surface to accommodate these changes. Consider investing in a supportive mattress designed to lie in a correct position while sleeping and help to keep your spine aligned.
Additionally, choose a pillow that is shaped to provide extra support for your neck and shoulders. It can be a pregnancy pillow U-shape that supports all your body and keeps your spine aligned or a double-wedge pillow, one piece of which supports your belly, another piece - your back. Those pillows can help relieve upper back pain and facilitate better night sleep. If you wish to get more details about such pillows, have a look at our Pillow Pregnancy Collection.
Obtaining a pregnancy belt
Pregnancy Belt is designed to provide additional support to the lower back and belly during pregnancy. The belt helps to redistribute the weight of the baby, which can help to reduce the strain on the upper back and shoulders.
It can also reduce the pressure on the joints, which can help to ease any discomfort. Besides, the compression applied by a pregnancy belt can help to improve posture and reduce strain on the spine, which can help to alleviate back pain.
In addition to providing physical support, a pregnancy belt can also provide psychological comfort. Knowing that there is some extra support in place can help you to feel more secure and confident. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can in turn help to reduce the intensity of any back pain.
If you are eager to obtain this pregnancy belt, you can visit our Pregnancy Belt Collection.
When sleeping, try to focus on good posture. Make sure you are lying on your side with your back supported, and you place a pillow under your stomach and between the legs for the spine to remain aligned. You may also want to consider placing a pillow behind your back to help support your upper body.
Besides, when getting out of bed, try to use your leg muscles and not your back. Avoid bending your back or twisting your torso as you get up, as this can put extra strain on your back muscles.
Proper sleep hygiene
We can recommend you to practice good sleep hygiene. The following steps you can make are: every day going to sleep and waking up at the same hours, keeping away from alcohol, caffeine and nicotine before bed, creating comfortable sleep environment and so on...
Find out more about sleep and other good habits to follow before going to bed in our article about how to sleep when pregnant.
Getting enough rest
Getting enough sleep is essential for keeping the body and mind healthy, and it can also help reduce back pain. You should sleep at least seven-eight hours every night. If that amount of time can be difficult to follow, try taking regular naps for around 20 min during the day.
You can use a hot or cold compress to help reduce pain and muscle tension before bed. Heat therapy can help to increase blood flow to the area and relax the muscles, while cold therapy can help to reduce inflammation and numb pain.
Massage can be beneficial in reducing upper back pain during pregnancy. A massage therapist can help to target specific areas of tension and pain, helping to reduce discomfort.
You should do stretching and strengthening exercises to help reduce upper back pain while sleeping. Yoga, as an example, can be a great exercise. Yoga offers a variety of poses designed to stretch and strengthen the upper body while also allowing you to focus on your breathing. This can help reduce stress and tension in the upper back, as well as provide a sense of relaxation. Additionally, yoga can help improve posture, which can help reduce the strain on the upper back.
Another activity that can help reduce upper back pain during pregnancy is swimming. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that can be very beneficial for pregnant women. The buoyancy of the water helps to support the body, reducing the amount of stress on the upper back. Additionally, swimming can help improve posture and strengthen the muscles in the upper back.
What are the best positions to sleep in to relieve upper back pain during pregnancy?
Sleep is a precious commodity during pregnancy, especially for pregnant women who are dealing with upper back pain. There are several positions that can help reduce upper back pain and make sleep more comfortable.
First and foremost, if you wish to relieve upper back pain during pregnancy, you should maintain proper spinal alignment. What you have to do is to sleep on the side using a pillow between the legs and behind your back. This will help your spine to remain in a neutral position and reduce strain on your upper back. The best position to try is sleeping on your left side with a pillow under your belly and between your knees. This position helps to alleviate pressure off of your lower back and takes the weight off of your upper back. Additionally, it can help improve circulation and reduce back pain.
Sleeping in a reclining position can also be beneficial for pregnant women who experience upper back pain. Using a pregnancy body pillow to support your back and legs can help to keep your spine in a neutral position, reducing strain on your upper back. Additionally, it can help you to maintain good posture and reduce stress on your muscles.
Finally, sleeping on your stomach or back is not recommended during pregnancy, as the weight of the uterus can put a lot of strain on your lower back and belly muscles. What is more, the extra weight can press against important blood vessels, resulting in reduced blood circulation to the other organs of the body, like to the heart and to the baby.
Find out more about when you should stop sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy including the risks associated with this position.
If you find it difficult to switch your position to your left side, you can use pillows to support your body and make yourself more comfortable.
In conclusion, upper back pain is a common discomfort that can appear in pregnant women. It is is often caused by the increased weight of the baby, hormonal changes, and psychological stress. To help relieve upper back pain while sleeping, you should invest in a supportive mattress and pillow, use a pregnancy belt, practice good posture, follow good sleep hygiene, get enough rest, use heat and cold therapy, and do activities such as yoga or swimming.
You should not also forget about finding a comfortable position for alleviating upper back pain when you sleep. The best position is to sleep on your left side or in a reclined position using a pregnancy pillow for your body support. By following these tips, you improve your sleep quality and facilitate more comfortable and safer pregnancy.
MedlinePlus (NIH), Aches and pains during pregnancy, 21 November 2022
Mayo Clinic, Back pain during pregnancy: 7 tips for relief, 20 November 2021
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Frequently asked questions. Back pain during pregnancy, Dec 2021