Pregnancy is one of the most joyous moments in a woman’s life. While you await the arrival of your little one, you put up with all the changes that pregnancy brings with it – the morning sickness, the swelling, the back-aches and pain. All so that you can hold your little one in your arms one day. Once you welcome your little one into the world, you think your body will go back to its normal self. However, a lot of new moms complain about postpartum joint pains like back pain and knee pain after delivery. Unlike pregnancy, where there are many natural and safe mom care products that help take care of stretch marks, dark circles, and other concerns, there aren’t many products that can help relieve postpartum back pain and postpartum knee pain. But it doesn’t mean you have to suffer through it, as there are many ways to get relief from this joint pain after delivery. Knowing the cause of the postpartum joint pain helps choose the best home remedies for joint pain after delivery.
Causes Of Knee pain And Back Pain After Delivery
A woman’s body undergoes several changes during pregnancy which can lead to back pain. However, some women continue experiencing back pain after delivery. The postpartum back and knees pain can hinder day to day life and even interfere with things like breastfeeding.
One of the main causes of back and knee pain after delivery is the changes in hormone levels. During pregnancy, a woman’s body releases progesterone and relaxing hormones that prepare the body for delivery by relaxing joints and ligaments. These hormones may stay in the body for a few months after delivery and lead to postpartum back and knee pains.
Weight gain during pregnancy can lead to painful back during pregnancy which may continue after pregnancy as well. The weight of the growing baby, and expanding uterus during pregnancy puts pressure on nerves and blood vessels in the pelvis and back region which may result in postpartum back pain. The increased weight during pregnancy puts sudden load on the knees, this damage to the knees leads to knee pain after delivery.
Lifting and carrying a newborn
A baby needs to be lifted several times in a day for feeding, bathing, cleaning, and moving around. Also, a lot of time is spent bending over the baby in the swing or crib resulting in postpartum back pain. The frequent lifting and carrying a newborn and incorrect positioning while bending or lifting causes joint pain after delivery.
Pregnancy many times can shift the center of gravity of the body. Unnoticingly there can be changes in posture, movements, walking and sitting styles. The change in posture creates uneven load on the spine giving rise to joint pains after pregnancy.
Breastfeeding can result in postpartum back pain due to hours of sitting and incorrect posture while feeding. Mothers tend to look at the baby to find the right feeding position, hence bending the neck continuously and hunching over. This causes sore neck and back pain after delivery.
Effects of anesthesia
Epidural anesthesia may be given during parturition to lower the pain and help the woman push effectively. This anesthesia does not cause any long term back pain, but the soreness at the site of injection can give back pain after pregnancy at that site for a few days.
Expansion of uterus
Another reason for back pain during pregnancy can be the expansion of the uterus to make room for your little one. As the uterus grows, it puts a strain on the lower back and lower abdominal muscles which can cause postpartum back pain and may take a while to go away completely.
Stress has an adverse effect on the body, reflecting in the form of pain. Postpartum mood swings, management of the newborn, sleepless nights, over working, etc are all capable of causing stress. Any stress can cause back muscles to tense leading to back spasm and back pain after delivery.
Constipation and gas can also cause back pain. Pregnant and postpartum women usually suffer from indigestion and gas build up. Not having postpartum bowel movements for more than 2 days, causing constipation can lead to back pain after delivery.
Any previous injury to the joint or any ligament tear may be the cause of postpartum joint pain. The old injury which has not healed completely or is improperly healed has a less stress bearing capability. The pregnancy weight gain can create load over these injured joints leading to joint pain after delivery.
After pregnancy a woman’s body can be deficient in nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Health issues like malnourishment, and deficiencies can cause bone and joint pain after delivery. A sedentary lifestyle also causes joint pain. Health issues like arthritis may be aggravated due to pregnancy.
Some women may experience piriformis syndrome after pregnancy. In this, a muscle near the buttocks enters spasm, causing pain in the area. This condition can affect the nearby sciatic nerve resulting in lower back, hip, and leg pain.
Understanding the causative factors of postpartum back and knee pain helps in getting proper treatment, making needed dietary and lifestyle changes, and applying home remedies for joint pain after delivery.
Tips to get relief from postpartum joint pain after pregnancy?
The 9 months of anticipation and anxiety finally culminate into labor and delivery, and it can leave you physically exhausted. Couple the physical exhaustion with getting up at odd hours to feed the baby, your body will be craving for rest. It’s best to give your body time to rest and heal while you spend time cuddling with your baby and bonding with him/her. Get help with friends and family members or maids for food or chores around the house so that you can relax and give your body the time to heal. Taking proper rest and sleep is the most easy home remedy for joint pain after delivery as it reduces all the stress.
There are many benefits to exercising after pregnancy. However, before you begin an exercise regime, speak to your doctor and take their advice. You can start off with going for walks or even try simple stretching exercises to ease the tension and strain build up in the muscles. You can also try yoga to ease sore muscles and relieve the pain. Make sure you incorporate pelvic exercises to strengthen your back muscles aiding in reduced back pain after delivery.
Eating a balanced diet and keeping yourself hydrated will help your body heal and add to your bone and muscle strength. Women need more calcium and vitamin D post 30s. Fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables regulate metabolism. Eating healthy helps you reduce excess weight, thus, lessening the load on the knees and spine helps in keeping postpartum knee pain and back pain in check.
Take hot showers
Hot water baths can help relax strained muscles and bring you relief from stiffness and joint pain after delivery. You can also soak into a hot tub with relaxing oils and bath salts that soothe nerves, improves blood circulation, and ease muscle tension. Hot showers are excellent home remedies for postpartum back and knee pain.
Try a hot or cold compress
Place a hot water bag or an ice bag under your back or knees to soothe sore muscles and get some much-needed relief from postpartum joint pain.
Use a breastfeeding pillow
While breastfeeding your little one, make sure your baby is properly supported so that you can spend time with your baby without nagging back pain. A good breastfeeding pillow helps you feed in a good posture, without straining your joints for hours. This simple home remedy for joint pain after delivery works wonders.
Ditch high heels and uncomfortable shoes
Now that your little one is here, you will be carrying them whenever you step out. Make sure you wear comfortable footwear that supports your feet and don’t put extra pressure on your knees or back causing postpartum joint pain.
Go for a massage regularly
Going for a massage regularly helps improve blood circulation, easing out stiff and sore muscles, and bringing relief to back pain and knee pain after delivery. Get a relaxing oil massage done at regular intervals to keep postpartum joint pain at bay.
Carry your baby properly
Avoid carrying your baby on your hip for long periods of time as it can strain your back muscles causing postpartum back pain. When you bend down to pick up your baby, get into a kneeling position or get close and then lift the baby up to avoid postpartum knee pains.
Try a pain relief oil
Choose a natural oil that can help relieve postpartum joint pain, and apply it to affected areas such as the back, legs and knees. Pain relief ointments that have chemicals which can get absorbed in the body, are not safe when breastfeeding the baby. Turmeric oil, Mahua Oil, and Mustard Oil have great pain relieving properties that alleviate back and knee pain after childbirth, and are the key ingredients in the home remedies for postpartum joint pain. Turmeric Oil is a rich source of Curcumin, benefiting the body by reducing swelling, inflammation and pain. Mahua Oil and Mustard Oil rejuvenate stressed and overworked muscles, improve blood circulation, and strengthen the muscles thereby reducing postpartum joint pain.
The Moms Co. recommends using the following product to get relief from back and knee pain after delivery:
Natural Pain Relief Oil
The Natural Pain Relief Oil is the ideal postpartum massage oil as it not only helps provide relief from pain and muscle inflammation but also helps the body recover bone and muscle strength through essential minerals and vitamins naturally present in it. It is a powerful blend of 15 Natural Oils including Mahua, Turmeric and Mustard Oils along with Sea Buckthorn Oil which helps ease muscle inflammation, reduce postpartum back and knee pain. Our Natural Relief Oil also helps improve bone and muscle health with natural vitamins and minerals such as Iron, Calcium, Phosphate, and Potassium. It also helps reduce menstrual cramps. Made without harmful chemicals and toxins such as mineral oil, parabens, and phenoxyethanol, it is the safest product to use during the lactation phase.
Take some time off to help your body relax and recover. Follow these simple home remedies to get your strength back and fight postpartum joint pain.
Exercises For Back Pain After Normal Delivery
Before beginning any exercises it is important to make an appointment with your doctor and take permission for doing certain exercises for postpartum back pain. Here are some exercises which are easy and suitable for women after childbirth:
It is the best exercise to realign your hips. This helps strengthen the rectus abdominis and the transverse abdominis muscles. It also adds to the body flexibility and helps reduce the back pain after delivery.
How to do it:
- Lay on your back
- Bend your knees
- Flatten out your lower back on the floor pushing your belly button down
- Hold this position upto 5 counts
- Return to the normal position
- Repeat to do 8-10 sets
It helps activate your butt muscles and keep your core stable. Glute bridge targets the gluteus maximus muscle, and transverse abdominis and hamstrings assist in the hip extension position, when you keep your abs tight during the movement.
How to do it:
- Lay on your back
- Bend your knees, positioning your feet flat on the floor
- Hold your ankle joint with your hands
- Straighten your hips in upward direction while squeezing your glutes as hard as you can, do not arch your lower back
- Hold the position for 5 counts
- Return to normal position
- Repeat it to do 12 sets
It improves the mobility of the spine safely and works on strengthening the core muscles.
How to do it:
- Get on your hands and knees
- Alternate between an arched back position and a rounded back position to do cat and camel respectively
- When arching your back inhale and hold the position till 2 counts, do not arch your back too much
- Exhale while rounding your back.
- Hold the round back position till 2 counts
- Move slowly between the two positions while focusing on your breathing
- Repeat to do 10 sets
It is a core exercise that helps improve stability, achieve neutral spine posture, and relieves postpartum low back pain. It also strengthens the hips, and back muscles, promoting proper posture and also increases the range of motion.
How to do it:
- Raise one hand out in front of your body and straighten out the opposite leg behind your body
- Maintain the back in a completely flat posture entire time
- Squeeze the glutes while activating the core muscles throughout the movement
- Hold the position for 4 counts
- Return to the starting position
- Repeat the same with opposite hand and leg
- Repeat to do 8 sets per side
It helps strengthen the arms, shoulders, neck, spinal column, back muscles and buttocks. This exercise stimulates abdominal organs improving digestion and burns abdominal fat. It improves blood circulation, and relieves stress and fatigue. Along with relieving back pain after delivery, it also relieves menstrual cramps and menstrual pain.
How to do it:
- Lie down on the floor on your stomach
- Place the palms flat on the ground under your shoulders
- Bend the elbows straight back and hug them into your sides
- With your neck in a neutral position and eyes looking down at the floor, anchor your pubic bone on the floor
- Inhale and lift your chest off the floor
- Roll the shoulders back while keeping your lower ribs on the floor
- Keep your elbows hugging your sides. Don’t let them wing out!
- Look up at the roof or sky, don’t over stretch than your limit
- Hold the position for 30-40 seconds, breathing easily
- Release back to the floor slowly with an exhalation
- 3-4 rounds every day are effective in reducing back pain after delivery
Exercises For Back Pain After Cesarean Delivery
The exercises should not be started until six to eight weeks after the surgery and without proper consultation with the doctor. See your gynecologist to seek guidance in doing exercises which are suitable after a C-section and your physical status. Your doctor may ask you to visit a physiotherapist for learning proper postures and exercises allowed to you after a cesarean delivery. Here are a few easy and safe exercises usually suitable to relieve postpartum back pain for women who had a C-section delivery:
This works in strengthening the transverse abdominis muscle. It is a great relaxation technique, helping in retraining the core muscles to work together through daily activities.
How to do it:
- Lie on your back on a comfortable bed
- Placing your hands on your belly, relax the body
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and expand your abdomen while you feel it with your hands
- Breathe out through your mouth
- When exhaling, pull your bellybutton in toward your spine, contracting the abdominal muscles
- Hold for 3 seconds
- Repeat 5 to 10 times
It is an excellent exercise strengthening and activating the pelvic floor, decreasing stress following childbirth.
How to do it:
- Sit on the edge of a chair with your feet on the floor
- Contract the muscles of the pelvic floor as if you are trying to hold back the urine flow or like closing all the vaginal openings
- Try to lift the closed vagina up and away from the chair
- Hold this contraction at least for 5 seconds and work up to a longer duration gradually
- Relax the contraction while exhaling
- You can try Kegels in different positions like standing or lying on your side
- Perform this 10 to 12 times with 2-minute rest between the contractions
- Repeat 2 times everyday
It is a wonderful full-body isometric exercise, excellent in getting all the muscle groups to work together. The quadriceps, hamstrings, pelvic floor muscles, core, and lower back muscles are strengthened in this exercise.
How to do it:
- Stand on your feet 1 to 2 feet away from the wall
- Slowly lean back towards the wall while lowering yourself as if in a sitting position
- Maintain your hips and knees at 90-degrees angle to one another
- Engage your core
- Take a deep breath in and exhale while pulling your belly button in towards the wall
- Hold up to a count of 10 -15
- Rest for 1 minute
- Repeat it 5 times
It is a beginner core exercise that helps engage the core muscles. The transverse abdominis muscle that supports the body core is strengthened.
How to do it:
- Lay on your back on the floor
- Bent knees and place feet flat on the ground
- Take a deep breath and while exhaling, contract your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button towards your spine
- Do not change the curve of your lower back
- Maintain this contraction, and slowly extend your foot in the air upwards away from the body
- Slowly get back to the starting position
- Repeat 10 times with each foot
The side planks engage the inner core muscles. Side planks work the quadratus lumborum, a deep spinal stabilizing muscle.
How to do it:
- Lie on your side with your knees bent
- Prop your upper body up on your elbow
- Raise your hips off the floor, and hold this position for 6 seconds
- Rest for 10 seconds
- Repeat 3 times
- Switch to the other side
- Repeat all the steps of side planks
Exercises For Knee Pain After Delivery
Weight loss is the key to saying goodbye to knee pain after delivery. Here are some knee exercises that help strengthen the leg, thigh and knee muscles and ligaments helping in reducing the postpartum knee pain:
Heel and calf stretch
It targets the lower leg muscles, specifically the calf muscles.
How to do it:
- Stand facing a wall
- Place your hands on the wall
- Comfortably move one foot back away from the body as much as you can
- Lean into the stretch
- Hold the position for 30 seconds
- Feel the stretch in your back leg
- Change legs and repeat
- Repeat 4 times for each leg
It targets your thigh muscles, the quadriceps. This helps improve the flexibility in the hip flexors and quadricep muscles.
How to do it:
- Stand near a wall for support if needed
- Place your feet a shoulder-width apart
- Bend one knee so that the foot goes up toward the glutes
- Grab the ankle with one hand
- Gently pull the foot towards the glutes within your bearable limits
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Return to the starting position and change the leg
- Repeat 5 times on each side
It strengthens your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings.
How to do it:
- Get into a standing squat position
- Feet should be shoulder-width apart
- Place your hands on your hips or stretch out in front of you for balancing the body
- Slowly squat down 8-10 inches, while looking straight, a halfway point of a full squat
- Hold the position for a few seconds
- Stand up by pushing through your heels
- Do 10 sets regularly
It strengthens the back of the lower legs, including the calf muscles.
How to do it:
- Stand up with your feet a shoulder-width apart
- Stand near a wall for support
- Lift up both your heels away from the ground
- Standing on the toes of your feet
- Hold the position for few seconds
- Slowly lower your heels to the starting position
- Repeat it for 10 times
In this your own body weight is used to strengthen your quadriceps.
How to do it:
- Sit up straight on a chair
- Place your feet flat on the floor with hips apart
- Extend one leg high up without raising your buttocks off the chair
- Hold for few seconds
- Lower to the starting position
- Do 10 sets with each leg
Is it normal to have back and knee pain after pregnancy?
It is common for many women to have back and knee pain after pregnancy, but it is not normal as there are various causative agents of postpartum joint pain.
How long does postpartum joint pain last after delivery?
Due to changes in hormones during pregnancy, it takes time for postpartum back pain and knee pain to subside. Taxing labor can also cause back pain after delivery. It can take up to 6 months to a year for the pain to subside as your hormone levels return to normal and your body heals. However, the home remedies for joint pain after delivery can be followed to get relief.
When to Consult a Doctor?
When the postpartum joint pain is accompanied by redness, swelling and stiffness it is important to consult a doctor. Unbearable persistent back and knee pain after delivery, migrating pains from joint to joint, joint pains involving minor joints like fingers, is a matter of concern. Diseases like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome can be the causative factors of joint pain.
Eating right, doing gentle exercises and being consistent with a healthy lifestyle are the fundamental keys to achieve an active life without back and knee pain after delivery. Taking the right measures at the right time is important to win the fight against the postpartum joint pains.