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Understanding And Managing Pregnancy Pain


Pregnancy is a transformative and joyous journey, but it can also bring about various physical discomforts, including pregnancy pain. As the body undergoes numerous changes to accommodate the growing foetus, many women experience a range of discomforts and pains. Understanding the causes and learning effective management strategies can significantly enhance the overall experience of pregnancy.


Common Types of Pregnancy Pain we see in clinic:


  1. Back Pain: Back pain is one of the most prevalent discomforts during pregnancy, affecting around 50-70% of expectant mothers. As the uterus expands, it can put strain on the back muscles, leading to pain in the lower back. Hormonal changes, a shifting center of gravity, and additional weight contribute to this discomfort.

  2. Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP), often felt in the pubic bone area, is another common type of pregnancy pain. As the body prepares for childbirth, the ligaments in the pelvic region loosen, which can result in discomfort and aching sensations especially when walking or trying to sleep.

  3. Round Ligament Pain: The round ligaments support the uterus and can stretch during pregnancy, causing sharp or stabbing pains on the sides of the abdomen. This pain is typically more noticeable when changing positions or during sudden movements.

  4. Sciatic Nerve Pain: Pressure on the sciatic nerve can lead to pain that radiates down the back of the leg. The growing uterus and changes in posture can contribute to the compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower lumbar spine.

  5. Headaches: Hormonal fluctuations, changes in blood circulation, and stress may trigger headaches during pregnancy. Stress can sometimes manifest around the anxiety of childbirth and result in jaw clenching or teeth grinding one of the top causes of headaches.


Management Strategies:


  1. Regular Exercise: Engaging in low-impact exercises, such as swimming, walking, or prenatal yoga, can help alleviate back pain and strengthen muscles, providing better support for the changing body.

  2. Proper Body Mechanics: Maintaining good posture and using proper body mechanics when lifting or reaching for objects can help prevent and reduce pregnancy-related pains.

  3. Pregnancy Massage: Massage therapy, specifically designed for pregnant women, can provide relief by addressing tension in muscles and promoting relaxation, our osteopath Johnathan offers this in our Bedford branch.

  4. Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying a warm compress or taking a warm bath can ease muscle tension, while cold packs may help reduce inflammation and numb certain areas.

  5. Supportive Footwear: Wearing comfortable and supportive footwear can alleviate pressure on the back and joints, reducing the risk of developing or worsening pregnancy-related pain.

  6. Maternity Belts: Maternity belts provide support to the abdominal and lower back muscles, helping distribute the weight of the growing belly and reducing strain. We recommend The Serola belt.

  7. Hydration and Nutrition: Staying hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet can contribute to overall well-being and may help manage headaches and muscle discomfort.


There is evidence that shows that osteopathic treatment can help with low back pain during the later stages of pregnancy, and may contribute to improved outcomes in labour and delivery.   The current National Institute of Clinical Excellence Guidelines for antenatal care also recommend techniques provided by osteopaths, such as massage and exercise, to help with painful symptoms during pregnancy.  Even if you are planning to get pregnant osteopaths can provide hip and abdominal strengthening exercises to try to avoid the more common aches and pains that occur in pregnancy.


During the first 10 weeks of pregnancy low back pain is most commonly caused by hormonal changes, further hormonal changes occurring at weeks  4, 6, and 12 mean it is advised not to have treatment at these weeks and ideally to wait until after you have had your 12 week scan.  You do not need permission from your mid wife to receive osteopathic treatment but we advise you to keep them informed of any treatment you have with us and we are happy to liaise with them if necessary.


While pregnancy pain is a common aspect of the journey to motherhood, proactive measures and open communication with healthcare providers can significantly improve the overall experience. Every pregnancy is unique, and what works for one woman may not work for another. By adopting a holistic approach that includes lifestyle adjustments, physical activity, and targeted interventions, women can navigate the challenges of pregnancy pain with greater ease and comfort.


Book an appointment with one of our osteopaths:



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