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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Looking after your body in pregnancy

It's common to feel aches and pains in pregnancy. This is because your body is changing shape, you're carrying more weight and your hormones are relaxing the ligaments and muscles throughout your body.

Typical areas that you may have aches and pains in are your lower back and pelvis, your pubic joint in the front (symphysis pubis joint) and your wrist and hands with swelling and numbness (Carpal tunnel syndrome).

The advice below may help to prevent or decrease discomfort during your pregnancy. For more advice, talk to your midwife, LMC or GP. If symptoms persist, you may need to see a women's health physiotherapist. Discuss this with your midwife or LMC.

Pregnancy hormones can also cause changes in your mouth that can lead to gum disease. Learn how to look after your teeth and gums to avoid problems during pregnancy.

Low back pain

Good posture: This will help to protect your back and pelvis. Avoid slouching. Think tall, shoulders down.

Standing (far right): Avoid standing for long periods (more than 40 minutes), Stand with even weight through both legs and avoid a sway back position.

Sitting (right): Sit with your back supported and use a small cushion or pillow to support your lower back. If you put your feet up, keep a curve in your lower back. Avoid side sitting or crossing your legs, get up every 30 to 40 minutes.






Lifting: Bend your knees and not your back. Avoid heavy objects and long periods of lifting or bending.

Sleeping: When sleeping on your side you can use a pillow between your legs, under your abdomen or behind your pelvis. A longer pillow can be useful. Try one or both knees bent up. Roll onto your side with bent knees to get out of bed.

Housework, gardening and so on: Do not strain or overdo it. Take regular rest breaks. No heavy work.

Comfortable clothing: Wear comfortable flat shoes. High heels can tip your pelvis forward and put strain on your back. Clothing that supports your lower tummy or a maternity support belt may be useful.

Physical activity: If done regularly, physical activity can benefit your posture and relieve aches and pains. Walking, swimming and low-impact gym work or classes are good. Check with your LMC or GP if you have any health concerns. Christchurch City Council leisure centres run a variety of pregnancy fitness classes, your LMC may know of more. Also check out libraries or bookstores for a range of DVDs or books on exercise in pregnancy.

Symphysis pubis joint pain

Pelvic floor muscle exercises

See Pelvic floor exercises for women or ask your LMC for a pamphlet. Strengthening these muscles may help to relieve some aching in your pubic joint. The best positions for exercising your pelvic floor muscles are lying on your side or sitting comfortably.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Written by Physiotherapy Services, Christchurch Women's Hospital. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2021.


See also:

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Low back pain

Page reference: 71350

Review key: HIPRC-41255