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.
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.
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.
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.
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.