The Happy Baby Project

A happy baby needs a happy mum


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Remedies for a Bad Back

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I’m 32 weeks with a huge bumperoo, and had some good news lately. After lots of R&R and a lovely relaxing babymoon in Kent (thanks to The Chef!), I’m feeling healthy, happy and rested. And a 32 week scan revealed an incredibly fat baby (top 97 percentile tummy size!), and no longer a vertically-challenged placenta, but one that has moved up and beyond my cervix. Hurrah.

But the latest problem I’ve had to deal with – which seems fairly common for this stage of pregnancy – is a bad back. I’ve had lower back and pelvic girdle pain, shooting pains in my pelvis from my sacroiliac joint popping out, and incredibly tight, stiff, tense back muscles from carrying the weight of El Bumpo.

While I’ve accepted that this is likely to happen on and off until baby arrives, I thank my lucky stars I’ve avoided SPD, and I’ve found several things that have helped me that I wanted to share:

  • I’ve found reflexology absolutely amazing. It gives a holistic solution to problems, dealing with both emotional and physical issues. For example, my wonderful reflexologist suggested some of my back problems stemmed from weeks of stress over Christmas, and worries about money and nesting, which caused my upper and lower back to tense up. That something which at its most basic was a very relaxing “foot rub” also diagnosed anxiety and digestion issues, shows what a powerful thing it is. I have no idea how it works, but for me it really has. I see Shirley-Ann Foster in Kingston.
  • I also do a monthly preggie massage with Shirley-Ann which relaxes me and allows me to get a good night’s sleep.
  • I’ve seen an osteopath for my back which was good, but I’ve found preggie physio really beneficial as all our body’s muscles are linked and a problem in one place often stems from issues in another. I had lower back and pelvis pain which turned out to be due to tight thigh muscles which needed to be stretched out. Agonising shooting pains in my pelvis were due to my sacroiliac joint popping out which needed to be slotted back in place. And now my lower back and pelvis pain is caused by several things, including the baby putting pressure on my thorax capacity and upper back (which has also made my breathing similar to Darth Vader), and the bump pulling my weight forwards, making my back strain to keep me upright. Physio massages are painful but brilliant for loosening up and getting a comfortable night’s sleep. I see Helen Keeble at the White Hart Lane Clinic, Barnes.
  • My physio also tried some acupuncture on me which was amazing. Based on traditional Chinese medicine, but adapted for the Western world, it works by pushing a needle into your muscle, causing the muscle to contract around it and then to relax. It also causes a small wound which sends healing waves to the area. Finally, the points can respond to different body issues – the points in my back where I was most tight responded to my bladder median. Surely not surprising that having to wee 100 times a day might have caused problems….
  • Stretching exercises have been amazing in trying to keep flexible. Try a few of these at the bus stop / train platform / at your desk:
    • Pelvic tilts
    • Cat stretches
    • Front thigh and calf stretches
    • Bum squeezes
    • Upper body and shoulder twists
    • Pelvic floor squeezes
  • Preggie yoga (and pilates I’d imagine, although I found it too difficult to do with a big bump) has really helped in stretching me out and limbering me up, the breathing and repetition making me more flexible. I see Natalie Meddings at the Garage Studio, Barnes.
  • Really practical comforts are:
    • Hot-water battles
    • Ice packs
    • Dream Genii pillow to sleep with
    • Deep heat creams (I also used Marmot Fat cream  – apparently an Austrian muscle and joint healer!)
    • I’d imagine any chemist-bought muscle relaxing creams and heated pads would help massively both for bad backs and for labour
    • Hypno-birthing relaxing CDs to breathe the pain away.

Finally, and I’m having to remind myself this all the time – TAKE IT EASY. After frantic nesting for weeks, I spent pretty much the whole of last weekend in bed, watching Modern Family on the iPad, and it did me the world of good. As a couple of lovely blog comments have already taught me, this really is the only time I can ever put my feet up, treat myself and relax, as the next time I go through this, I’ll have a mental toddler with a giant belly running round. I’m trying not to feel guilty about cancelling social arrangements, delegating housework, or asking friends to give me a pillow to sit on.

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Mo’ belly, mo’ problems

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I got 99 problems and lower back pain is definitely 1

So there I was at 30 weeks, proudly telling The Chef that my third trimester was my best, that I was feeling great, that I thought I’d “got away with it“, that pregnancy wasn’t all that bad really, actually it was fine, and maybe I could try it again after a short break.

But preggie symptoms change quickly don’t they? And when you’re least expecting them to…

….And so it came to pass that a mere two days later, there was me at 1am, on all fours, gritting my teeth as the tears flooded down my face in sheer agony and frustration at the pain shooting down my lower back and under my bump, which meant I could neither sit down nor lie down for more than a second in any one position, making sleep an impossibility. I tried a bath, the dream genii pillow and hot water bottle, and still I was only able to pace the room and try pelvic floor stretches until the wee hours, unable to get comfortable.

Two agonising, uncomfortable days later and a trip to the physio and my problem was diagnosed – my sacroiliac joint had popped out. Yup, just popped right out (its the joint between your pelvis and spine and isn’t really designed to “pop” anywhere). She said the injury was similar to those found in car crash victims.

CAR CRASH VICTIMS.

And yet when I came to work out how I’d done it, I reckon I managed to pop it out following an over-zealous hug from a friend’s toddler which, due to my new-found lack of balance, knocked me right over.

You know when you went backpacking as a teen, and tried to bend down to tie your shoelaces on a train platform, but the weight of your giant rucksack tipped you over so you ended up, beetle-like, pinned to the platform by your heavy bag, with legs in the air and unable to stand again? Well that’s about as co-ordinated as I apparently am now – the hug from a three year old is likely to pop my pelvis out of place.

But anyway the damn thing is back in now, and hopefully with some massage and TLC it will stay put. Unless, you know, I do something crazy like give someone a high five.

Which leads me to two new sources of panic:

1. If joint pain had me wailing uncontrollably, what on earth am I going to be like in labour? and

2. With all these worries, about nesting, about pregnancy back pain, about the birth, when am I actually going to have time to think about the most important thing – being a parent.

And when I think about the latter, the panic does set in a little. I’d been so distracted with ensuring my cot bumpers matched my nursery wall stickers, and that I was doing my pelvic floor exercises and hypno-birth CD, I’d forgotten to think about little things like – oh yeah – the fact that a small, crying, hungry thing is about to call me mummy for the next 18 years or so. A brief peak into what Gina Ford has to say about it all only served to scare me even more.

So in the 10 weeks I have left there’s some new things to think about – like breastfeeding, infant sickness, discipline, sleep routines, whether I would let them get a tattoo. I kind of liked it before when all I needed to think about was getting enough vitamins, and the latest offers at Mothercare.