Protect Your Spine During Pregnancy With These Four Tips

Pregnancy can be hard on your spine, but with the right tips, you can protect your back. Best of all, you can ensure it is strong enough to hold your new baby and growing toddler without pain when the time comes. To help you, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Sleep on your side

If you love to sleep on your belly, you may have already learned that becomes impossible by the tenth to twelfth week of pregnancy depending on how quickly your bump is growing. However, you shouldn't sleep on your back either -- in that position, the weight of the growing baby pressing down on your spine can be hard on it.

Instead, sleep on your side. Make it as ergonomic as possible by investing in a body pillow, or simply pop a regular pillow between your knees and a small pillow under your belly for extra support.

2. Support your belly

As your belly grows, it may be tempting to shift that weight back and brace your lower back with your hands. Aside for a few moments of stretching, avoid this position. It bends your spine in an uncomfortable way that could compress some of your lumbar vertebrae.

Instead, support your belly. There are special bands or belts you can buy to support your baby bump, or you can even use a baby wrap around your pregnancy belly to to help hold up the extra weight without injuring your back.

3. Your shoes matter

Whether you are pregnant or not, the shoes you wear have an impact on your back, but when you are carrying around the extra weight of a tiny growing person, shoes are especially important. If possible, ditch the heels and the flip flops.

Instead, wear comfortable supportive shoes that support your feet and ankles and thus by extension support your knees, hips and back.

4. Practice cow and cat pose

Lower back pain is common in pregnancy, and while almost all prenatal yoga can help, cow and cat pose are especially effective. Get on your hands and knees on the floor, and arch your back up into cat pose. Then, relax it down slowly into cow pose.

Not only will this alleviate pain, it can also help with labor pains. If you experience a lot of back pain during labor, the baby's face is likely turned toward the front while his or her hard skull is pressing against your lower spine. Going into cat and cow pose during labor takes the pressure off your spine and also makes baby more likely to turn into a position more convenient for birth.

For more tips on how to protect your back during pregnancy and beyond, talk with a spine medicine and health expert.