As you may know, your hormones affect the muscles and ligaments in preparation for delivery. They become more lax and open which allows the bones to shift throughout the body. When this begins to happen there is a greater strain placed on the muscles causing muscle spasms. Because of this, many times the muscles then compress the nerves running through them. During pregnancy, this frequently manifests as sciatica, carpal tunnel, or thoracic outlet syndrome. As the pregnancy continues to develop your center of gravity shifts forward and your muscles must continually compensate for this change in their normal functioning.
One reason why you feel more tired is that your muscles are doing so much extra work at this time. There are several areas most affected by these changes such as your low back (especially your sacroiliac joint), upper back, shoulder muscles, and abdominal organs.
The number one complaint I see with my prenatal patients is low back pain. It can be due to several causes including lifting heavy items such as groceries, poor sleep positioning and sitting or standing for prolonged periods during the day. There are a few simple tips I share with my patients to help.
- Try to make more trips when carrying heavy bags.
- If you have young children try not to pick them up from a straight leg position. Instead, bend your knees like a squat and then lift them. Also whenever possible hold your child on your lap instead of in a standing position to give your back a rest.
- Try rolling tight muscles by starting with a foam roller then progress down to a smaller size tennis ball. This will target more specific muscles alongside your spine.
Self Back Massage
If you are still able to get on to the floor take two tennis balls and slip them into a single sock tying off the end. Place the roll at the base of your occiput. This is around the back of your hairline. There should be a ball on either side of your spine and never on the spine directly. You can modify this massage technique by standing against the wall instead of the floor. Also sitting in a high back chair while leaning against one or both balls behind you.
Allow your body to relax in this position. If all your weight feels uncomfortable then just back of a bit until it feels pleasant. When you feel you have relaxed as much as you can then simply move the balls an inch or so down along either side of your spine to the next spot. Try resting 30 to 60 seconds in the tighter areas you feel need it. If any area feels too uncomfortable then just skip it. I recommend doing your entire spine three times but it’s more important to do what feels comfortable for you.
*** Caution: Avoid doing this technique in any area that are compromised such as disc herniations, cyst, fractures. If you experience pain anywhere along your spine. Also, avoid the sacral area of your hips in the first trimester.
The length of your prenatal massage can range from sixty minutes to two hours depending on your specific needs. Several techniques are employed such as Swedish massage, myofascial, stretching & range of motion, and other modalities to relax and soothe the body, treat and ease tensions. At the end of the session, you are left feeling restored, relaxed, and comfortable in your happy body. You will also get tips on how to sleep better, foods that support pregnancy, relaxation techniques, and exercise to support you during this time of added stress.
As your pregnancy progresses you will find each trimester will hold its own focus for your body’s needs. You can learn more here.