Back Pain in Pregnancy

Many women experience back pain during pregnancy. Although pregnancy is a fulfilling experience for a woman, it is also a time of immense emotional and physical chaos. Having back pain on top of all that will be the last thing that helps.

Good news is that back pain during pregnancy is manageable. Also, in many cases, the back pain is preventable.

What leads to back pain in pregnancy?

If you had back pain before pregnancy, chances are that you will have it during pregnancy. A woman undergoes many changes during pregnancy.

Changes which lead to back pain in pregnancy:

There are many changes taking place in the woman’s body. Following changes together with each other cause back pain.

  1. Hormonal changes: Some hormones are released in pregnancy which makes muscles and ligaments lax. Laxity of muscles and ligaments reduces support on the spine and pelvis (bony structure below spine). Hence, pain arises due to decreased support.
  2. Weight changes: As the weight of the woman increases, so does load on the spine.
  3. Decreased abdominal function: Abdominal muscles play a vital role in maintaining the stability of the spine. As the tummy of the woman grows, the efficiency of these muscles reduces.
  4. Stress: Anxiety, nervousness and stress also contribute to back pain.
  5. Postural changes: As the baby grows, the body adapts some postural changes.

For example, the curvature of the spine in lower back gets more than normal. This puts more than normal stress on the spine. The image below shows the increase in curvature of the spine in low back.

cause of back pain in pregnancy

Red flags during pregnancy

red flag

There are some situations which mandate that you call your gynaecologist right away.

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Cramping and contractions in your tummy
  • Pain which has started suddenly
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tingling and numbness in legs or anywhere in the body
  • Fever
  • Pain in lower tummy
  • Increased vomiting
  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden reduction or increase in fetal movements

What can you do?

Difficulties in pregnancy can be effectively managed by multifaceted care. Everything from nutrition and exercise to emotional fitness is important. It is also important to start early and prevent back pain altogether.

Tips to reduce the chances of back pain:

  • Focus on your posture. Keep your shoulders back.
  • Take a good amount of rest.
  • Avoid activities which involve one leg standing.
  • Sleep on your side rather than on your back.
  • Do not overexert yourself.
  • Sit with adequate Back and leg support.

Exercises during pregnancy

To state that exercises should be avoided during pregnancy is untrue. Researches (Pubmed,  Cochrane) have proven that exercising during pregnancy does not harm either mother or the baby.

If the woman is already exercising, the same exercises are continued with little modifications.

It is also important to note that not all exercises are beneficial in pregnancy and back pain.

Guidelines and precautions:

  1. Exercises should not exceed pre-pregnancy levels.
  2. Stretch muscles with precautions.
  3. Avoid sleeping on the back.
  4. Rise slowly when moving from lying down to standing position.
  5. Do not hold your breath. It increases pressure in your tummy.
  6. Take frequent breaks during the exercise routine.
  7. Include appropriate warm up and cool down exercises.
  8. Empty your bladder before starting exercises.
  9. Stop or reduce the intensity of the exercise if there are red flags.
  10. AVOID activities which involve standing on a single leg. For example activities like this.

one leg stand

To relieve back pain, exercises focusing on proper posture are recommended.

Contact your Physiotherapist or Pregnancy classes for a tailor-made routine for you.

Back pain after pregnancy

In some women, back pain persists even after the pregnancy. Many factors are responsible for this pain.

  1. Weak abdominal muscles: During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles are stretched to their limit. It weakens them and leads to back pain.
  2. Diastasis recti: In this condition, one of the abdominal muscles splits in two.
  3. Pain after Caesarian section: In Caesarian section, an incision is put on the abdomen to reach the uterus. This weakens abdominal muscles and leads to pain.
  4. Improper feeding techniques: Many women do not maintain proper posture while tending the baby. This puts too much stress on the back and thus, suffer from pain. Contact your pregnancy classes to learn proper feeding techniques.

Treatment of Back pain after pregnancy

Management of back pain after delivery is similar to the usual back pain. Physiotherapy treatment involves a special focus on the abdominal muscles. It is because most of the pain is due to weak abdominal muscles.


Back pain is trouble during pregnancy, but a preventable one. Take very good care of your body as a whole to reduce chances of back pain along with many other inconveniences. Maintain a basic level of activity and avoid too much rest during pregnancy.

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