What to Do About Back Pain During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, it’s common to experience back pain from time to time. The good news is, you might be able to reduce the severity by adapting how you move and sleep. Read on to find out what causes back pain during pregnancy, what you can do to get some relief and when to contact your doctor.

Causes of Back Pain During Pregnancy

Many mums-to-be experience back pain at some point during their pregnancy but the causes can vary. One of the culprits is strain caused by weight gain and postural changes as your belly grows. Weakened abdominal muscles as your belly stretches can also cause back pain during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can also play a role. A hormone, called relaxin, relaxes the ligaments and joints of your pelvis to help your baby pass through the birth canal but it can also loosen the joints of your lower back, leading to pain. If you have a history of back pain you might be more likely to experience it during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Back Pain Relief and Prevention Ideas

Your doctor or midwife can give you personalised advice and may recommend pain relief or physical therapy, but these strategies might also help relieve the discomfort:

  • Exercise. Regular physical activity helps to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles. It can also help improve your posture. Just make sure to get the green light from your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen. Prenatal yoga could be a good choice as could be exercising in water.

  • Practice good posture when you stand and sit. Keep a straight posture and draw your belly in. Try to remember to tighten your tummy muscles even while sitting, standing and walking. If you sit a lot, it can help relieve the pain to choose a chair with good back support or use a cushion to support your lower back.

  • Wear comfortable shoes. Wear low-heeled shoes to evenly distribute your weight.

  • Sleep comfortably. A firm mattress gives your back extra support, and sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs, behind your back, and under your tummy can also help.

  • Be careful when you pick up objects. Avoid lifting anything heavy. To pick something off the ground bend your knees instead of bending over at the waist.

  • Get plenty of rest. Take regular breathers to just have a sit down and relax, especially as your pregnancy progresses.

  • Get a massage. You mind find a massage soothing and relaxing. A warm bath could also help relieve your achy back.

What Back Pain During Pregnancy Feels Like

Every mum-to-be experiences pain differently, so there's no hard and fast rule. For some, the pain may be stronger during certain movements. For others, the pain can radiate down the legs. The pain can come on suddenly or it might present more slowly. The pain can also vary in intensity. Sometimes it can be tricky to pinpoint the exact site of the pain. For example, you might have trouble distinguishing back pain from soreness in your pelvis or hip.

Back Pain in the First Trimester

There are many early signs of pregnancy and lower back pain can be one of them. Back pain in the first trimester is probably nothing to worry about but, as always, check with your doctor or midwife if you're concerned.

Back Pain in the Second and Third Trimesters

You might experience back pain during the second or third trimesters. As we have described, this could be because of changes in posture and weaker abdominal muscles.Towards the end of your pregnancy, a dull ache in your back can be a sign you are going into labour.

When to Contact Your Doctor or Midwife

Back pain is often one of the many normal aches and pains of pregnancy, but sometimes it can indicate a more serious problem. If your pregnancy is not yet full term, it can be a symptom of premature labour, and if you experience the signs of premature labour you should contact your doctor right away. At any other time during pregnancy, contact your doctor or midwife if you’re at all worried or if

  • the back pain your experience during pregnancy is severe

  • your feet, legs, bottom or genitals feel numb

  • you feel pain under your ribs

  • you have pain when you pee

  • you have vaginal bleeding

  • you have a fever.

FAQs at a Glance

Is back pain common during pregnancy?

Yes. Back pain is very common during pregnancy.

How should a pregnant woman sleep to reduce back pain?

It may help ease back pain to sleep on your side with pillows placed between your legs and under your belly for extra support.

Is back pain a sign of labour?

A heavy achy feeling in your back could be a sign that labour is about to start.

There is so much going on during pregnancy and if back pain is getting you down, try to remember why you’re going through all this and more. You’ll soon have a baby to hold! Consider trying some of the tips in this article and speak to your doctor or midwife for expert advice. With any luck, something you try will help relieve those aches and pains!

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below.
The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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