Back Pregnancy

Pregnancy after back surgery

I kept a weekly journal on the blog documenting my pregnancy and how my back was coping. I’ve had a few emails recently from women in the same situation. I thought it would be good to write an overview of what pregnancy after back surgery was like.

Back Surgery

I have spondylolisthesis and have had spinal fusion at L4-S1. My surgeon confirmed my spine was stable before I fell pregnant. I needed to have the metalwork removed in February 2015 and fell pregnant 10 weeks later. At first I was really concerned about how my back was going to hold up. Would it do anymore damage to my spine? There was very little information out there discussing pregnancy after back surgery.

I’m pleased to say that 4 months after the baby was born I had a scan. My spine looks good and the fusion is it exactly how it was before the pregnancy.

First Trimester

During the first trimester I had very little problems with my back at all. I continued to exercise and do Pilates to keep my core strong. I think that the relaxin hormone that starts production when you are pregnant to soften everything actually helped and made the muscles relax.  There were a few blips with some pain in my legs, however this was no different to what I was experiencing before pregnancy.

Second Trimester

At this stage I started to get the aches and pains. Although this was more focused in my pelvis than my back. I had experienced pelvic girdle pain (PGP or SPD) during my second pregnancy and felt that the same thing was happening again. My back had begun to hurt again, a low constant pain that I can only describe as ‘bone ache’. I spoke to my consultant at length about what pain relief I would be able to take. Most of what I was taking prior to pregnancy you can’t take when you’re pregnant. I was given some Oramorph to take when the pain got excessive and took paracetamol.

Third Trimester

This is when things did get difficult. Around 26 weeks I was having to use crutches to get around anywhere as I couldn’t walk due to the pain. At this point I was signed off work and spent most of my day lying down.  There was no way my back was moving to accommodate my growing baby and my pelvis was really taking the brunt of the pregnancy. I have a very small distance between my ribcage and hips and there wasn’t much space for the baby. The doctors started to give me Zomorph which is a tablet, slow release form of Morphine. I had taken this before I was pregnant and it was one of the only things that they could offer me that would have minimal effects on the baby. Taking the Zomorph meant I was able to get through the day. I was still in a moderate amount of pain though, it wasn’t exactly a happy time.

Being pregnant after spinal surgery was really difficult. My two sons were born before I had any back problems and although I never really enjoyed being pregnant it went smoothly. I knew before we tried for our third child that it was going to be a painful experience. I tried to prepare for that, getting as physically strong as I could beforehand. Also staying positive and thinking of that amazing baby at the end really got me through it.

If there are any other mummies out there who have been through pregnancy after back issues then I love to hear about your experiences.

I have also written a post about labour after back surgery.

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42 Comments

  • Reply Stephanie

    Hi Ladies,
    My husband and I are thinking about starting a family. I had a complete spinal fusion at age 16, I am 31 now and I was hoping that you all could give me some advise. I haven’t really had any complications since my surgery, besides pain every now and then.
    I was cleared by my surgeon years ago, he told me that I didn’t need to see him unless there was an issue. He is a pediatric orthopedist. After reading some of these posts I feel like I should try to get into contact with him and see if he can give me some details about whether it would be safe for me to even carry a child??? I can contact another orthopedic, but I feel a little uncomfortable making a one time appointment just for them to get my history, xrays and let me know the details.
    Honestly any information or guidance would be greatly appreciated!
    Stephanie

    January 7, 2017 at 11:39 pm
    • Reply Lisa

      Hi Stephanie, thanks for posting your comment. I think that getting some advice from a medical professional would be the best thing. Can your doctor refer you to a specialist? I was told that as long as my spine was stable that it would be safe for me. I was just warned it would be painful. However I was in a lot of pain and having problems before I feel pregnant so I was fully expecting that. I did manage to have a normal delivery despite all the problems though so it can be done.Before getting pregnant I would try and get as much info as you can from professionals so you can be prepared. Let me know how you get on xx

      January 9, 2017 at 4:45 pm
  • Reply Tarah

    Hi! I also have an L5-S1 spinal fusion and am now 33 weeks pregnant. I was very strong, active, and a healthy weight. Now, I’m in pain every day and it’s getting to the point where I can barely walk. I’m not taking any pain medication, and it’s incredibly discouraging and frustrating to be in such pain all the time. Thank you for sharing you story and letting me know I’m not alone. I think I’ll write a post about this on my blog too. There’s got to be more of us out there and we need to support each other!

    November 29, 2016 at 9:25 pm
    • Reply Lisa

      You are definitely not alone. It is so hard towards the end of your pregnancy. There were days I had to crawl to the bathroom from bed and it’s only about 8 steps. My consultant agreed to induce me at 37 weeks as the pain was so bad and the bad was a good size. You’ve got the end in sight now, only a few more weeks to go and you’ll have you’re lovely baby. Definitely write a blog post, I’d love to read it and see how you get on xx

      November 29, 2016 at 10:03 pm
  • Reply lifewithpinkprincesses

    pregnancy is tough as it is. My hat goes off to you and I am so pleased things have stayed the same for you. Pregnancy puts such a strain on your body. I think I’m still recovering two years on!

    November 15, 2016 at 9:03 am
    • Reply Lisa

      I does take a long time to get over it I think 2 years is about right x

      November 15, 2016 at 3:00 pm
  • Reply Vikki Holness

    It sounds like the pregnancy was hard on you and it must have been so difficult to really enjoy it with those thoughts and problems at the back of your mind. I think you’re amazing and incredibly strong to cope with it all. xx

    November 10, 2016 at 1:48 pm
    • Reply Lisa

      Yes pregnancy was not an enjoyable time at all but it’s a means to an ends and I was just focussed on holding my baby at the end of it. xx

      November 10, 2016 at 7:43 pm
  • Reply Jenni

    Wow that must have been incredibly hard and it’s great that you have written about it to raise awareness for other people. The fact that someone found your blog through researching this shows how important the information is for people going through the same issues x

    November 8, 2016 at 8:52 pm
    • Reply Lisa

      Thanks Jenni that’s really kind. That’s the whole reason I started the blog to support others and raise awareness 🙂

      November 8, 2016 at 9:34 pm
  • Reply Jillian

    Hi! I came across your blog because I was researching this exact subject! There is very little information regarding pregnancy after back surgery. My husband and I would like to start trying to get pregnant, and I have a few concerns. I had a spinal fusion (L4-S1) a year and a half ago. My surgeon left my hardware in (6 screws, 2 rods, & 2 cages), so I’m not sure if that will make a difference. I was told it would be safe to get pregnant 1 year post-op, but I really didn’t feel like my body could have handled it that soon after the surgery. I have spent the past 7 months really trying to build strength and gain flexibility. I feel pretty great for the most part, but I do still get achy. However, it isn’t bad enough that I require any medications. How was labor and delivery for you?
    Thank you for taking the time to document your experience!

    November 7, 2016 at 3:28 am
    • Reply Lisa

      Hi thanks for taking the time to comment and get in touch. I had fusion at exactly the same place as you. You’ve definitely done the right thing taking your time and getting as fit as possible. I only had my metalwork removed as it had come loose again! The Labour was OK. I’ve written another blog post that will be up on Wednesday going through what it was like from a back perspective or Darcey’s birth story is on the site now. Drop me an email if you want to chat about things more xx

      November 7, 2016 at 1:57 pm
      • Reply Jillian

        Thanks for your response, Lisa 🙂
        Loose metalwork?! I cannot even imagine. That would be really scary and quite frustrating!
        I read Darcey’s birth story! It certainly didn’t sound easy, but I’m glad you both were safe and healthy. I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming post about your labor experience. Thanks again!

        November 7, 2016 at 8:54 pm
  • Reply Little Pickle's Mom

    Goodness, this sounds so incredibly difficult. I think you’re amazing to cope with it all. Glad to know your back is all fine after the pregnancy but it really sounds like hard work. You have my absolute utmost respect!

    November 6, 2016 at 9:32 am
    • Reply Lisa

      Thanks hun x

      November 6, 2016 at 2:13 pm
  • Reply lisalambert38 - Mumdadplus4.co.uk

    I have back issues but nothing diagnosed or as serious as yours. I found myself getting comfy in the list stupid positions all through my pregnancy but anything that helped Was fine by me.

    November 6, 2016 at 8:59 am
    • Reply Lisa

      That’s it physics tell you to sit properly but it’s the odd positions that are the most comfy.

      November 6, 2016 at 2:14 pm
  • Reply MELANIE EDJOURIAN

    It sounds like you had a really hard time. I too hated pregnancy but luckily didn’t have any serious back problems.

    November 6, 2016 at 1:10 am
  • Reply mrshsfavouritethings

    Gosh that sounds really difficult. Back pain is the worse as it is just so debilitating. I am glad that you had some good doctors to help you with medication when you needed it. I am also pleased to hear that your back is okay now. This is such a useful post for anyone struggling with back pain during pregnancy. Hugs Lucy xxxx

    November 5, 2016 at 11:16 pm
    • Reply Lisa

      Thank you x

      November 6, 2016 at 2:14 pm
  • Reply Grant - Looking for the Postman

    It sounds like you had a terrible time. I’ve had back pain and still do have shoulder and neck pain on a daily basis. Now, that’s bad enough, but to think that you were pregnant at the same time? I’ll never moan about an ache again!

    November 5, 2016 at 10:47 pm
    • Reply Lisa

      It’s always good to have a little moan sometimes though 😉

      November 6, 2016 at 2:14 pm
  • Reply Newcastle Family Life

    I have been lucky and never suffered any back problems, I had spd with my girls and I can’t imagine the pain of having that and back problems it must have been so painful. I bet you are so relieved that things are ok with your back after pregnancy x

    November 5, 2016 at 10:09 pm
  • Reply ChelseaMamma

    It sounds awful – I suffered with backpain during mine and that was bad enough

    November 5, 2016 at 9:25 pm
  • Reply Jan (@JansFamilyNotes)

    That must have been hard for you being in so much pain during pregnancy.

    November 5, 2016 at 7:39 pm
  • Reply Kellie Kearney

    Oh Lisa, sounds awful. I haven’rt had any back surgery but I have had four kids, three of them in the last two and a half years and that was a huge strain in my back in itself. Lisa from badmammy.com had an awful car accident while pregnant on her little bub (thankfully both are okay) but she suffers terrible with her back now.

    November 5, 2016 at 10:55 am
    • Reply Lisa

      Wow 3 in 2 1/2 years that must have been hard work. Thanks for sharing Lisa’s blog with me. Am heading over to check it out. X

      November 5, 2016 at 11:39 am
  • Reply Rachel

    I can’t imagine how hard the pregnancy was but how amazing is the body to go through all that and still function x

    November 5, 2016 at 9:22 am
    • Reply Lisa

      It rally is amazing isn’t it. Still astounds me that we can grow a perfect little human being x

      November 5, 2016 at 11:38 am
  • Reply Kerry Norris

    I can imagine it was difficult for you. The third trimester is hard enough without having had back surgery. Glad you mananed to do some Pilates in the first etc x

    November 5, 2016 at 7:46 am
  • Reply Karen's obsessions

    Must of been very difficult, being pregnant already puts a strain on your back. My mum fell down stairs when she was pregnant with me and broke her tailbone so she was stuck in bed for last 3 months

    November 5, 2016 at 12:16 am
  • Reply clairejustine

    It is hard on your body carrying the extra weight when pregnant, I had lots of back ache. Oh wow it must have been a big worry being pregnant and having to have surgery on you back. Glad everything went OK you .

    November 4, 2016 at 11:09 am
    • Reply Lisa

      Thanks Claire I count myself very lucky it all turned out OK x

      November 4, 2016 at 11:15 am
  • Reply TheLondonMum

    I suffer from back pain during pregnancy because like you I don’t have much space between my ribs and hips and I carry big babies. I know how painful and uncomfortable it is, but I don’t have a back condition like you do so goodness know the pain you must have been in. Well done for getting through it. x

    November 4, 2016 at 9:27 am
    • Reply Lisa

      Thanks, you never think about how little space there is until you’ve got to fit a human being in there! Hope all is well with you xx

      November 4, 2016 at 10:16 am
  • Reply Alina

    Jesus, it’s usually an ordeal just being pregnant let alone your back surgery! Well done.

    November 4, 2016 at 9:00 am
    • Reply Lisa

      Thanks Alina, it was all worth it in the end x

      November 4, 2016 at 10:17 am
  • Reply Kaz & Ickle Pickle (@IcklePicklex)

    I fractured my coccyx seven years ago, and was pregnant with Pickle four years ago and that was painful in the last weeks. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you. Kaz x

    November 3, 2016 at 8:44 pm
    • Reply Lisa

      Coccyx pain is the worst, you can even seem to get a hot water bottle to the right area to make it better x

      November 4, 2016 at 10:17 am
  • Reply Jess Helicopter

    Oh my gosh, you poor thing. How hard to spend so much of your pregnancy in pain! I didn’t enjoy my pregnancies for a wealth of other problems (namely HG and Cholestasis which made me want to rip my skin off from the itching). It’s really hard when you don’t enjoy pregnancy too because so many people a) love it and b) expect you to love it. So then you feel mega guilty when you say that you’re not enjoying it, as if you’re so sort of failed mother! haha or is that me just being overly dramatic?! So glad that your back didn’t suffer further damage. Hope it gets easier.

    November 3, 2016 at 7:58 pm
    • Reply Lisa

      I completely agree with you. You feel like you should be enjoying it, especially as there are so many women out there desperately trying to become pregnant. You feel like you shouldn’t complain x

      November 4, 2016 at 10:18 am
  • Reply Rebecca | AAUBlog

    I haven’t had any back surgery but know how much strain puts on your in pregnancy as it is. It must have been hard. But like you say, thoughts of the baby you’re carrying got yo through

    November 3, 2016 at 1:04 pm
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