What causes back pain during pregnancy? 

Back pain can happen during pregnancy because your uterus is getting larger and stretching out. Relieve back pain during pregnancy by moving with care and attention, supporting yourself, resting, and strengthening your muscles.
Back pain can happen during pregnancy because your uterus is getting larger and stretching out. Relieve back pain during pregnancy by moving with care and attention, supporting yourself, resting, and strengthening your muscles.

It’s common for pregnant women to feel pain in the back, especially during the early months. The pain usually goes away after the birth of the baby. Sometimes it can last for months after labor. The good news is you can both prevent and get relief for pregnancy back pain

This article covers the causes of back pain in pregnancy and steps you can take for prevention and relief. 

Back pain can happen during pregnancy because your uterus is getting larger and stretching out. The uterus is the part of your body that holds your growing baby. The stretching can make the muscles in your stomach weaker. Your center of gravity can change because of it. That’s the place in your body that supports most of your weight.

You can find it harder to balance yourself. The muscles of your back have to make more of an effort to support your weight and the weight of your growing baby. That can cause aches and pains in your back.

During pregnancy, your body also releases a hormone called relaxin. Just as its name suggests, the hormone helps to relax the muscles of your body so you can prepare for the birth of the baby. But that also puts pressure on your back to stabilize your movements, sometimes causing back pain.

How to avoid or ease back pain during pregnancy

There are many things you can do to avoid or ease back pain during pregnancy.

Move with care and attention

During pregnancy, it can be easier to fall or hurt yourself. Use these tips to help you support yourself better and prevent back pain. 

  • Avoid lifting heavy objects. If you have to lift anything at all, avoid bending at the waist. Bend your knees with your heels close to your buttocks. Use your legs and not your back to lift the object.
  • Move your feet when you have to turn to the side so you don’t twist your spine.
  • Split light shopping into two bags and carry one bag on each side so you’re not straining either side too much.
  • Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. Take breaks. If you have to stand a lot, keep one foot at a time on top of a stool or a box. This helps to take the pressure off your back.
  • When you’re standing, practice good posture to avoid straining your back. Stand with your back straight. Your stomach should not be leaning forward too much.

Pay attention to the way you sit, stand, sleep or walk at all times to prevent the risk of injury and help ease back pain. 

Support yourself

Extra support can be helpful to prevent injury and prevent or ease back pain. 

  • Use maternity support wear like an abdominal support garment or maternity pants. These are usually available in maternity stores. Talk to your OBN-GYN for specific advice. The OBN-GYN or pObstetrician-Gynecologist is a doctor who specializes in women's health. 
  • Wear low heels with good arch support for walking. That will help better support the weight of your body. Avoid high heels.
  • When sitting, use chairs with back support or place pillows at the back of your chair for support.
  • Use a firm mattress when you’re sleeping. It is advisable to sleep on one side of your body during the later stages of your pregnancy. Keep one or both knees bent. It may also help to keep a pillow between your knees and one under your back.

Take rest 

  • Rest as much as you need to, especially later in your pregnancy.
  • Place a hot towel or water bottle on your back to help ease the pain. You can also use a heating pad but use the pad at the lowest setting. Another option is using a cold compress. But avoid using hot or cold packs for long periods of time. And remember to wrap heat packs inside a towel before using to prevent burning.
  • Gentle pregnancy massages can be helpful. Talk to your doctor before you go for one.

Can exercise help?

Exercising can be helpful for you in many ways during your pregnancy. 

  • Exercising helps to make your body and muscles stronger. This makes it easier for you to cope with carrying and delivering your baby.
  • Exercising also stretches the muscles of your back and legs, so you’re less likely to hurt yourself. 
  • Exercising can improve your energy levels. It helps you keep up with your daily activities without getting easily tired. Exercising can help relieve pain in your joints and muscles, helping you get relief from back pain.

Prenatal yoga and water-based exercises like swimming and aqua-natal classes can be helpful to make your muscles stronger. Walking is also another good exercise to try. Use a good pair of walking shoes or tennis shoes, so you have enough support.

Talk to your OBN-GYN and get the OK before you start or change an exercise program. Your OBN-GYN can recommend gentler exercises that are safe for you to practice. They can also help you modify your exercises, so they’re safer to do.

Stop if you feel any pain during exercise and talk to your doctor for advice.

When to call your doctor for urgent medical care 

Talk to your OBN-GYN if you have pain that is hard to bear or if the pain goes on for more than 2 weeks. You may be given pain medication to help with relief. 

Sometimes, you may get referred to an obstetric physiotherapist. That’s a specialist who helps prevent or ease physical and emotional challenges during pregnancy or at labor. They may ask you to wear a maternity girdle or brace for support.

Call your doctor urgently if you have back pain together with the following symptoms:

  • Fever, vaginal bleeding, burning, or pain when you pass urine
  • Pain below your ribs on either side 
  • Loss of sensation in one or both your legs, your buttocks, or your genital area

Sometimes when you have back pain during your second or third trimesters, it can mean you’re going into early labor

Conclusion

Pregnancy can be a very exciting time in your life. While back pain can be a challenge to get through, these guidelines can help you prevent or ease symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or if you need medical support. 

QUESTION

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Medically Reviewed on 4/28/2022
References
SOURCES:

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Back Pain During Pregnancy."

KidsHealth: "What Can I Do to Relieve My Pregnancy Backaches?"

NHS: "Back pain in pregnancy."