Living with Chronic Pain
6 Tips for Dealing With Chronic Pain During Pregnancy
When a female with chronic pain becomes pregnant, it is possible that the pregnancy may worsen or aggravate their chronic pain; this is especially true for lower back pain. In addition, pregnant women may need to cease taking medications for chronic pain. However, there are ways to make pregnancy more comfortable.
Six tips for dealing with chronic pain during pregnancy include the following:
- Take steps to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Prioritizing a healthy lifestyle is important during any pregnancy. Getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, and reducing stress levels promote a healthy pregnancy and can reduce or even prevent pain.
- Participate in gentle stretching and physical activity. Low-impact physical activity, such as walking or swimming, keeps the muscles strong and flexible. Physical activity also increases levels of serotonin in the brain, which can improve mood and reduce pain. Gentle stretches can also keep the body flexible, helping to prevent tightness and pain.
- Eat foods with anti-inflammatory properties. For chronic pain that is caused or worsened by inflammation, eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties can help. Examples include fruits, whole grains, certain spices (e.g., ginger and turmeric), and yogurt.
- Consider alternative and complementary treatments. Various types of alternative and complementary treatments for chronic pain are considered relatively safe for pregnant women. Examples include massage, yoga and meditation. However, pregnant women should consult a medical professional before trying any new alternative or complementary treatment.
- Try temperature therapy. Another safe option for reducing chronic pain during pregnancy is temperature therapy. For some women, a warm bath or heating pad can reduce tension and ease pain. However, bath water should be 100 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and heating pads should not be applied to the abdomen during pregnancy. If heat does not help, cold therapy (e.g., applying an ice pack to an achy joint or to the forehead, neck or temples to ease a headache) may help reduce certain types of pain.
- Ask a doctor about appropriate medications. Pregnancy does not necessarily mean that pain medications need to be completely avoided. Certain medications such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be safe in certain quantities and at certain times during pregnancy, especially if the benefits of the medication outweigh the risks. It is important to note that a pregnant woman should consult their doctor before taking any medication. An obstetrician can advise them on which medications are safe during pregnancy.