I was putting clothes away in our dresser when my husband asked me: “Does your back hurt just all the time?”
From the profile view of my body, not only is my large pregnant belly sticking out in front a major feature — but so is the concave curve of my spine over-exaggerated when I lean.
Pregnancy is not kind on the back.
Around 28 weeks, I complained to my doctor about a pain in my butt and how much of a pain-in-the-butt it was to sit and stand, roll and flip. The only thing that didn’t hurt was walking. She sent me to Palmer Physical Therapy where I got checked out. I was told I had bad posture — not surprising — and that the pregnancy was putting new weight on a poorly cared for spine. Ouch. The weight put pressure on the sciatic nerve — that giant one in the spine, butt and legs — which caused all sorts of nasty pain.
Had I kept up with my weight-lifting workouts and yoga practice — like my doctor told me to — my back might have been strong enough to withstand the extra strain on my spine.
But I didn’t.
So it wasn’t.
Now, here we are.
Guess which exercises I’m allowed to do…
Guess which exercises I’m not allowed to do…
Why can’t I do yoga? Yoga sounds like a practice that should, in fairness, help with back pain. But forward bends, Downward Dog, sitting without support… the physical therapist said all these poses were just making the pinch in my spine worse. Even prenatal yoga is bad for my back.
No more yoga while the baby is in the belly.
It’s the suckiest thing ever :(
I went to Palmer’s four times in two weeks to get my spine checked. The left side was worse than the right side so all my PT exercises focused on fixing that pinch — using a towel roll under my left side while rotating my spine to the right, miniature back bends while standing, press ups (which are just going up and down in Cobra Pose).
I did a really good job doing the rotations three times a day and the back bends once an hour. My Fitbit goes off hourly to remind me. I also did a really good job remembering to ice my lower back three times a day — no lie, the ice pack was the best part. I even switched out chairs with a coworker so I could take the arms off and get as close as possible to my computer station as my belly would allow <– This is no longer possible.
The only thing I couldn’t do were the press ups because I can’t successfully lay on my stomach without the special pregnant lady pillow pad <– This thing is awesome.
I did a really good job.
…for about four weeks.
Then, well, waking up earlier in the morning to do my exercises was sacrificed for sleep, and getting up and down off the floor at work to do the rotations became really hard — I’m the size of a whale — and every time I try to do the standing back bends, I have to pee.
Plus, we’re so busy all weekend every weekend getting ready for the baby that taking care of myself is becoming less and less of a priority.
So backwards, right?
Now is the best time to be taking care of myself because, in five short weeks, I’ll be taking care of a newborn. (Did you see the cover photo? Five weeks, y’all. And, yes, that’s a cup of cereal sitting on my stomach like a TABLE. Follow me on Instagram for more.) He’s going to take up all sorts of attention! And my back? Well, it’s definitely going to suffer from neglect.
Once I recover from delivery, my goal is to get back in to yoga. Gentle, stretching yoga, with full support — that means sitting in a chair with my towel roll instead of on the floor — to alleviate tight muscles and start building up the strength in my spine.
High hopes I have for postpartum, huh? :)
I also renew my commitment to my PT exercises every day. You know, as soon as I have the crib built, the house cleaned and the Christmas decorations up. (What if he shows up around Christmas, and I don’t have a tree up? Or an ornament? Crap.)
The Internet, in its infinite knowledge, has a bunch of recommendations to relieve pregnancy pain, including sciatic nerve pain:
- What to Expect has several recommendations (The only one I don’t really agree with is the “warm compress.” I was told to stay away from heat as it can worsen inflammation. Physical therapist’s orders!)
- Diary of a Fit Mommy — a new favorite blog of mine — has information about kinesiology tape, which can be used for a number of annoying ailments
- You can also take your chances with WebMD, but I’m not allowed to look at that site anymore because… well, we won’t get in to that…