Pregnancy brings on a slew of physical changes…...with it comes some aches
and pains of pregnancy.
But if you are still feeling those aches and pains
well into your postpartum time, you are not the only one!
Let’s talk about musculoskeletal health after delivery.
What Exactly Is Musculoskeletal Health?
The musculoskeletal system is the collection of muscles, tendons, bones and
joints, that provide structure and support and help with movement.
Musculoskeletal health is an important part of your overall health as it is
the framework for your body and mind. This is essentially when your
muscles, bones and joints should work together so you can perform daily
activities with ease and without pain.
The majority of pregnancy-related aches and pains disappear within
4 to 6 months of giving birth but can last longer especially if
not recognized and managed effectively.
This can lead to lasting problems for women.
Up to 25% of women appear to experience some
difficulties, most commonly back and pelvic pain.
During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin causes ligaments to loosen . Your
musculoskeletal framework is also reacting to the baby's extra weight. For
breastfeeding moms, relaxin sticks around a bit longer. All of these
factors can lead to musculoskeletal issues which if addressed proactively
can be managed easily.
We will do a quick review of some of the most common issues and some
Pain in the lower back
Low back pain is the most common symptom before and after pregnancy. If you
experienced low back pain during your pregnancy you may experience more
Poor posture, a weak abdominal wall, or weak back muscles may all cause low
When lifting, squat, bend your knees, and hold your back straight.
Start some pelvic tilt exercises: lie on your back, knees bent, and
scoop your belly inward toward your spine and lift your pelvis
slightly up and hold for 10 seconds.
In case you stand or sit for an extended amount of time, take
breaks and place one foot on a cushion.
Upper Back Pain
Upper back pain is commonly caused by improper balance when doing
tasks….like feeding your new baby! When you hunch over the upper spine
becomes excessively flexed, resulting in overstretching in some places and
compression in others.
Use pillows to support you when you breastfeeding to avoid
Use a small footrest while feeding.
Bring baby to breast rather than bring yourself to baby.
Sit in seats that have strong back support
Relax your shoulders down.
This is a catch-all phrase for pain in the groin, buttock, hip, sacroiliac
joint, vaginal, rectal, or tailbone area. Some may feel it as an intense,
slicing pain that goes down the leg and gets worse as you change positions
others may feel a dull pain.
Sleep on your side with pillows between your legs for added
Support yourself with belly band ( sacroiliac belt) until your
Start Kegel exercises ( check in with your provider if you have had
stitches prior to starting)
Leg and Foot Ache
Pregnancy-related weight gain and shifts in posture may cause discomfort in
the feet and legs that could after delivery. Especially due to fluid
changes that happen after your delivery. This is usually seen in the form
of lower leg spasms or cramps, as well as in problems like plantar
fasciitis ( pain when you step on your feet)
Leg and feet massage
Elevated your legs
Use a foot stool when you sit
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This is a musculoskeletal condition that may include wrist pain. This may
be something that starts during pregnancy and continues, or starts
postpartum from napping up tiny buttons, changing diapers, breastfeeding,
and pumping. Symptoms include hand and finger stiffness, discomfort,
numbness, or tingling.
When possible initiate movement from elbows rather than wrists
Where a wrist splint at night
Yes. Physical therapy is excellent for musculoskeletal problems. A physical
therapist who specializes in pregnancy and postpartum may be able to help
you the best. They can assist you in the following ways:
Determine any issues with your posture.
Determine any core or pelvic floor weaknesses.
Take care of your discomfort.
Suggest exercises for your treatment
Musculoskeletal health is an important part of your wellness after
delivery. If you are feeling aches and pains it can not only affect your
physical but also your mental wellness.
These symptoms may often be brushed off as a normal side effect of
pregnancy and delivery without much guidance on what to do. But you can get
relief with gentle exercise, education on causes of pain, and improved body
Speak to your healthcare provider or a physical therapist if you have any
chronic issues. As always you can also reach out to our MaternalWell
pregnancy and postpartum physical therapists for consultation.