How to deal with back pain during your pregnancy
Your growing baby and belly can put a great deal of pressure on your back. Find out how to guard against pain and relieve back pain during pregnancy.
Back pain is a common symptom of pregnancy. In fact, at least 50 percent of pregnant women experience pregnancy back pain.1 It can hit you anytime during the nine months, but it’s likely to strike during the third trimester—when your developing baby’s weight is the highest. The good news is that there are simple ways to alleviate the pain.
What’s Behind Pregnancy Back Pain? 2-3
Understanding some of the common back pain triggers can put you at ease that what you’re experiencing is normal.
- Added weight: Your growing baby can put a strain on your lower back.
- Hormones: The increase in pregnancy hormones affects the ligaments and joints in the pelvic area. They soften and loosen up to help ease the birthing process, but this can also result in decreased support for your back.
- Gravity: As your belly continues to grow, your center of gravity changes and gradually moves forward. This change in your core can lead to pain in your lower back.
- Weak Muscles: During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles, which support the spine, become stretched and can weaken.
Relieve Back Pain During Pregnancy2-3
In many cases, simple changes can make a world of difference for your back. Some back-soothing strategies to try:
- Exercise. Talk to your doctor about appropriate exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles in your back and abdomen. Stretches for your lower back may also help.
- Support your back. Place a small pillow behind your lower back while sitting, for extra support. A firm mattress will also support your back better. If you can’t buy a new one, a board placed between a soft mattress and the box spring will provide support.
- Wear shoes with good arch support. It’s best to skip high heels as much as possible.
- Watch how you lift. Instead of hunching over when picking something up, bend at your knees and squat to move the effort into your legs and away from your back.
- Check your sleep position. The pregnancy sleep pose your back will love: on your left side with a pillow between your knees.
- Go warm or cool. Try a heating pad on the lowest setting on your lower back. For some women, cold packs also do the trick. To avoid too much heat or cold, wrap a towel around whatever you use.
- Enjoy a gentle rub. Have your spouse gently massage your back, or treat yourself to a professional prenatal massage.
- Ask about meds and alternatives. Check with your doctor if it’s OK to take medications such as acetaminophen to help relieve your symptoms. You may also want to talk with your doctor about alternative medicine, including acupuncture and chiropractic treatment.
A Few Pregnancy Back Pain Cautions4
While slight to moderate back pain is quite common during pregnancy, contact your doctor immediately if your back pain is severe or if it comes with
- Vaginal bleeding
- High temperature or fever
- Burning sensation when passing urine
1Katonis P, Kampouroglou A, Aggelopoulos A, Kakavelakis K, Lykoudis S, Makrigiannakis A, Alpantaki K. Pregnancy-related low back pain. Hippokratia. 2011 Jul; 15(3):205-10.
2March of Dimes Backache http://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/backache.aspx
3American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists https://www.acog.org/-/media/For%20Patients/faq115.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20141008...
4Mayo Clinic: 7 Ways to Relieve Back Pain in Pregnancy http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth...