Back pain after birth / post-partum

Back pain postpartum

Being a chiropractor and being married to a chiropractor has given me the luxury of being regularly adjusted since my mid-twenties, and no times were more important than during pregnancy and postpartum. Interestingly all my pregnancies were very different and my health and chiropractic needs were also different.

With my first pregnancy, I ran until 32 weeks (I highly do not recommend this but at the time I felt amazing and thought I was invincible!). I worked 40 hours a week for the first 20 weeks, 30 hours a week for 20-30 weeks and 18 hours a week until the day before I gave birth. I experienced no back pain or pain of any sort, which I’m sure is because of my very regular massage, chiropractic and acupuncture treatments and very committed exercise/stretching regimen around the crazy running sessions!!. Even after a very long labour, I bounced back super quickly. The key I now realise was allowing people to help, resting while the baby rested and not trying to go straight back into life at the same intensity I went into pregnancy. I was encapsulated in the baby bubble so with the wonderful concoction of hormones and feeling super supported I eased my way into motherhood beautifully. I did little bits of stretching and strength at home with my Maxim and about 13 weeks post I started doing post-natal pilates, again with my Maxi. Even though I experienced a small prolapse during the pushing phase, the regular chiro to align me, physio to help strengthen my pelvic floor and heal my abdominal separation and my gentle specific exercise routine, meant I experienced no pain or symptoms as my body healed and strengthened.

During my second pregnancy, I put on a lot of weight and had a 2-year-old so I barely exercised or did much for myself except for my appointments. Again I had no back pain during pregnancy or even after birth initially. Mimi arrived “late” in an intense and wonderful Homebirth in just under 2 hours. I was blessed to have a baby that fed well, slept through the night often and was very alert and calm when awake. Unfortunately having such a calm baby meant I overdid it with cleaning and trying to keep up with my 2-year-old and in one swift bend down to pick something off the floor I felt a sharp pain in my coccyx. This extreme coccyx pain meant I could not sit down for 2 months after that. This meant I couldn’t drive or feed sitting. Once the inflammation was there it was very hard to heal as I needed to care for a newborn and a 2-year-old with no family living close by. I was in good hands again but once the injury was there it took time to heal, especially postpartum with all the relaxin hormone present.

After the birth of my 3rd baby, Modi, I was 41. I was very grateful to have the birth at home again so I didn’t have to be reminded I was a geriatric pregnancy!! Again it was another fast intense birth with our little man arriving in the birth pool at home with all family present in 57 minutes!! I was up, walking around and showering not long after and my body felt amazing. Having not learnt from my previous birth I decided a couple of weeks later that my house was a bomb and cleaned it from top to bottom while my little angel slept 7 hours straight! I did the skirting boards and everything. As I was doing the last part of the vacuuming I leaned forward and felt a sharp pain in my left lower back/glute. I tried to stand up and couldn’t weigh bare on my left leg. I instantly went from feeling so elated to devastated as tears flowed down my cheeks. Nick assisted me to the chiro room in our house and treated me. This was a regular daily occurrence for the next month as well as many other friends who showed up to treat me, help me and cook for me. I couldn’t walk up the stairs some days, I couldn’t walk holding Modi and some nights I had to crawl or drag myself to the toilet if Nick wasn’t nearby to help. I was in so much pain and although my newborn was another epic sleeper I wasn’t getting much rest because of the pain. I saw an Osteo at about the 6-week mark and he felt that the left sacrum had not aligned and slid back in optimally after such a quick birth, so all the bending and twisting I did cleaning had irritated the nerve physically but also my body was calling out for rest emotionally. After a few energetic sessions along with the other treatments, the pain finally started to ease and I could once again perform acts of daily living. How glorious it was to be able to pick up my kids and just walk unsupported!

So the message is not just to focus on the care during your pregnancy but also postpartum. The fourth trimester is equally important in my belief and the one that many mothers neglect for various reasons. There is plenty of time for visitors and cleaning your house but there is only such a short window to bond and allow your body to recover. With all our babies we did a golden month where we asked for support but said no visitors except immediate family. This allowed us to bond as a family and enjoy every moment. As a Mumma, it’s sometimes hard to let others do things for you or have a messy house or even sometimes just stay in your pj’s all day. Just do it! You are not lazy. Your baby isn’t going to be spoilt. You will never regret it. Life will be there when you resurface from your baby bubble. Stay in there as long as you can!

Something that helped me was doing Nadine Richardson’s She Births course and Jane Hardwick Collings Shamanic Pregnancy Course. Both are super holistic and talk about the importance of self-care physically, mentally, emotionally, nutritionally and spiritually not just in pregnancy but during preconception and postpartum. If you can ever sit in a circle with Jane, I can’t recommend it more highly. Understanding that being tired in pregnancy and postpartum is a clear signal to honour yourself and your baby and slow down and rest. Having sex early postpartum is not supposed to be on your radar, physically or hormonally. That doing “nothing” in the early days postpartum is actually doing everything. Asking for help is a superpower. So many messages in this modern world seem to get lost as we strive to get back to work and pre-baby weight in the fastest time possible because that’s what is “expected”.

A reminder of some of the benefits of chiropractic postpartum are:

– Better emotional well-being; adjustments release chemicals such as dopamine and certain endorphins which decrease stress and make you feel better (less chance of post-natal depression)
– Quicker recovery; assistance with the return of lumbopelvic mechanics and spinal alignment, balance and stability
– Assist a smooth transition to breastfeeding; especially by maintaining the integrity of the mid back. A case study done in 2007 concluded that spinal misalignments and neurological interference play a major role
in Hypolactation. The researchers suggested, “Chiropractic evaluation would be a key element in the holistic assessment of the failure to establish milk supply in the postpartum patient.” (1)

Please remember, to look after your family you must first make sure you are functioning optimally too. This isn’t selfish it is smart. If you are happy then your family is happy. It’s hard to be happy when your health is impacted so the more you learn the better you will know what to do. This is an amazing way to inspire your little people to do the same. One step at a time.

Love and Peace.
Kate Wood

(1) Breastfeeding – 3 case studies REF: Vallone SA. The Role of Subluxation and Chiropractic
Care in Hypolactation. JCCP. 2007;8(1&2).


She Births;

Shamanic Pregnancy;

Author: Kate Wood

Kate has represented Australia as an 800m runner, winning five Australian titles and competing on the international stage. She also lectured track & field at the Australian College of Physical Education. After being forced into an early retirement due to injury, Kate turned to helping others with their health and wellness, with a special focus on families, pre-conception, pregnancy and paediatrics.

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