Post Pregnancy Pain: Why Your Joints Are Aching & What You Can Do

Women who are pregnant are not only excited to give birth in order to meet their new baby, but also to gain relief from the many discomforts that pregnancy brings. One of the main complaints women have, particularly in the third trimester, is consistent joint pain as the body prepares for birth. However, now that you have delivered your baby, you might be dismayed to discover that your joint pain is still persistently present and is preventing you from getting back into the swing of things. Some women do experience persistent postpartum joint pain, but there are some things you can do to make it better.

What causes the pain?

Joint pain after delivery can actually be caused by a number of coordinating factors. The main contributors are:

  1. Relaxin. This hormone is released throughout pregnancy to loosen the ligaments in your pelvis and hips, allowing the body to push the baby through the birth canal without causing trauma to the mother. However, this helpful hormone also means joint pain because the bones are more likely to become misaligned of to rub against one another. Hormones take time to regulate after birth, and therefore your muscles and ligaments won't immediately tighten back to normal until relaxin levels decrease.
  2. Pinched nerves. To accommodate the weight of a baby, many pregnant women need to over-arch the back to carry the extra weight in the stomach more comfortably. This puts persistent pressure on the sciatic nerve, which runs though the hips and down the back of the leg. After birth, the lower back muscles will still be tight from strain, and the nerve itself could still be irritated. Usually, this nerve pain registers as lower back joint pain or hip discomfort that shoots down the back of the leg on one or both sides.
  3. Weight gain. Many women gain weight during pregnancy. This is normal, as it helps your body to care for the baby after birth; the reserve of fat is stored to produce breastmilk. The excess weight, however, stresses the joints during pregnancy, and this stress can continue as the bod carries the weight after birth. 
  4. Sleep deprivation. The postpartum body takes a while to heal because the body needs sleep in order to heal. Because your newborn does not sleep for long periods, you don't either, and the lack of sleep can contribute to joint pain as a side-effect of total-body exhaustion.

What are some remedies for postpartum joint pain?

One of the best ways to relive your pain after giving birth is to see a chiropractor. Birth puts an enormous amount of stress on the body, and subluxations in the spine and hips can make typical joint pain even worse. Having your body put back into alignment after birth will help you to overcome normal aches and pains more quickly. You can also try:

  1. Moderate exercise. Sciatic pain and weight gain are both remedied by increasing your activity level. After getting the go-ahead from your doctor, lose weight and stay active by choosing low-impact exercises like spinning or swimming and lifting light weights to improve muscle stability.
  2. Massage therapy. Tight lower back muscles can be coaxed into relaxation by massage, which increases blood flow to overworked muscles, allowing them to heal more quickly. Visit a chiropractor to learn more about massage and how it can help.
  3. Stretching. Nine months of gestation probably put a damper on your flexibility. However, stretching, especially strengthening, active stretch routines, like yoga, help to relieve joint pain. 

Living with pain after pregnancy does not have to be your reality. Normally, as your body heals and you seek help from your chiropractor, you should get back to normal. However, if joint pain persists, talk to your doctor, because some women can have worsened joint conditions after pregnancy and you may need further medical treatment.