Low back, tailbone, and sacroiliac pain can all occur after birth and throughout postpartum recovery. Learn why it might be happening and how you can start to feel better now.
You may be experiencing low back, tailbone, or sacroiliac pain for several reasons, which we will examine below. Thankfully, you can resolve the pain using an integrative mind, body approach if interested.
Seven causes of lower back pain after birth and during postpartum
Keep reading if you are curious to learn more about what’s causing your lower back pain after birth. Let’s look closely at seven common causes of experiencing back pain during postpartum recovery.
Keep in mind that one, none, or multiple of these reasons might be the source of your pain, so it’s important to read them closely and work with a doctor as needed.
Reasons for postpartum lower back pain: at-a-glance
- Natural pregnancy changes
- Old physical trauma
- Physical birth trauma
- Getting an epidural
- Cesarean scar adhesions
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Lifestyle factors and considerations
1. Natural pregnancy changes
During pregnancy and postpartum, the body changes.
There are as many subtle changes as obvious ones. These changes can stress the tailbone to compensate for the growing baby. This area will stretch and widen during birth to allow the baby to pass through.
A postpartum Yoga or Pilates teacher can help you target these specific muscles and tighten stretched and weak areas. A pelvic floor physical therapist will also be a great resource to pull everything back together again.
2. Old physical trauma
Unhealed or old trauma like a dislocation or fracture (from horseback riding or falls) can get re-triggered after pregnancy and birth.
3. Physical birth trauma
The pelvic floor will change from both vaginal birth and cesarean delivery. During a vaginal delivery, the muscles and ligaments must stretch to allow the baby out of the birth canal.
This can destabilize the low back, sacrum, and coccyx. If these muscles are overstretched or not stretched evenly, it may lead to pain. Changes to the low back and sacrum still occur with a c-section.
4. Getting an Epidural
Epidurals are related to low back pain after birth because the epidural numbs the body’s ability to feel. This disconnects the body from its ability to make changes as birth progresses.
If you believe the cause of your back pain is from old trauma, birth trauma, or an epidural, working with a chiropractor, acupuncturist, and pelvic floor therapist will be very helpful.
Find a person who is attuned to the prenatal/postpartum body and with whom you feel safe to work. Most women will respond within one to four sessions of chiropractic adjustments and soft tissue work.
Acupuncture will help increase blood flow to the low back’s small and delicate muscles and bones. Pelvic floor physical therapy will help to shorten muscles that have been overstretched and strengthen muscles that are weak.
5. Scar tissue adhesions
C-sections are major abdominal surgeries, and adhesions can form on the incision. This can pull on the internal musculature and cause upper and lower back pain.
To help prevent adhesion, massage your belly and Gua Sha your c-section scar. This will help the adhesions loosen and the pain lessen. A scar rejuvenation kit will contain everything you need to work on and support your cesarean scar.
6. Pelvic floor dysfunction
Most women start their pregnancy with pelvic floor dysfunction or lack of pelvic floor muscular tone. After birth, the pelvic floor has been stretched, and the feedback (or your ability to connect to them) will be poor.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can lead to
- Low back pain
- Pain with sex
- Pelvic organ prolapse
Work with a pelvic floor therapist to reconnect with the pelvic floor and begin to strengthen the muscle tone. If the cause of your low back pain is because of slack pelvic floor muscles, exercise is necessary.
7. Lifestyle factors and considerations
We live in a fast-paced culture that does not support our spine and pelvis. Most people who give birth find their posture is out of alignment. Over time this can lead to low back pain after sitting.
During pregnancy, the spine will shift to make room for the growing baby. If you notice your low back pain after activity or sitting, it could be because your spine is out of alignment.
To correct this discomfort, you will need to recruit your glutes, legs, and abs for movement rather than the low back. Work with a pilates instructor and a postpartum yoga and breathing teacher.
These practices will help you maintain proper spine alignment while doing household chores, walking, picking up your baby, and breastfeeding. Your body will stop overusing the low back for support and build strength in other areas.
How do you get rid of lower back pain after pregnancy?
First, identify the root cause of your pain. That will make it clear what your next steps will be.
Once you’ve narrowed down the causes, the second step is finding a qualified postpartum practitioner to support your recovery. Working with chiropractic, acupuncture, and pelvic floor PT can all support and help you better assess and understand why you are having pain.
Pilates, gentle yoga, and targeted breathing exercises will all support you in realigning, strengthening, and tightening the musculature of the low back and pelvic floor. Some also believe in the power of Yoni steaming to help support back recovery after birth.
If you had a C-section, remember to pay attention to your scar through gentle Gua Sha and massage is essential to help loosen adhesions and decrease pain and sensitivity overall.
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Abigail is a doula, author, yoga teacher, and wellness coach. Her nine years as a pediatric nurse and her training as a coach and meditation teacher guide her doula care. She seeks to empower expectant mothers and support the family during their transition. You can find Abby dancing under a disco ball, swimming, painting and spending time outdoors with family and friends.