back pain in pregnancy

About 75% of women suffer from back pain in pregnancy. It is one of those side effects that will remind you over and over that you are expecting a baby.

Considering this, don't worry too much.  Its intensity can range from mild, to moderate to severe, depending on many factors. Backache tends to increase as months go by, later on your pregnancy, but fortunately there are ways to soothe it. 

If you want to understand why it happens and how to make it better, don't miss our special piece on backache in pregnancy. When you’re doing the right things, back pain in pregnancy should no longer be a problem.


What causes backache in pregnancy and when does it happen?

As pointed out above, there are different reasons why you may undergo back pain in pregnancy. Normally, it is caused by pregnancy hormones, which make the ligaments in your body relax as the pelvis expands. That puts extra pressure on your joints and back muscles, which can trigger pain.

Gaining weight during pregnancy explains the rest. Most women put between 20 to 27 extra pounds throughout these nine months, and that definitely has an impact on your back by the last trimester. Above all, this happens because your 'bump' makes your centre of gravity tilt forward, which women usually compensate by over-arching their lower back. The strain in the area is, then, more than understandable. Also, don't be surprised if the pain gets worse by the end of the day, since your whole body ends up exhausted.


How can I distinguish it from other back pains?

Though backache is a common side effect during pregnancy, you should be able to identify whether the pain is related to having a baby on the way or to something else, lile or sciatica or pelvic girdle pain. You have to know that if you are a person who tends to get regular backaches, these may get worse while being pregnant.

Taking this into consideration, sciatica in pregnancy differs from back pain in pregnancy in the way it feels; it is recognisable by a pins and needles feeling around the sciatic nerve and a running pain that can travel down the legs to your feet. In general, when it comes to sciatica, the pain usually lies in your legs and your groin rather than in your back. As for the pelvic girdle pain, expect discomfort either in the front or the back of your pelvis.


What can I do to make back pain in pregnancy better?

There are many exercises and tricks that you can perform to prevent back pain in pregnancy or to make it better. Here's a detailed list of things that you can do to keep it under control: 

  • Forget about lifting heavy objects. Your back muscles don't need more strain
  • If you have to lift stuff no matter what, make sure that you keep your back straight, only bending your knees, to pick up the objects. Avoid twisting!
  • When carrying things, don't put extra weight on one side of your body. Make it even.
  • Stooping isn't 'allowed' for you while being pregnant
  • Wear comfortable shoes, either flat or with a slight heel, which will make your weight 'sit' more naturally throughout your body
  • When sleeping, avoid lying on your back and do it on your left side instead, keeping your knees bent up. Putting a pillow between your knees may give the muscles around your pelvis some relief.


Preventing backache in pregnancy is important, but so is treating it properly once you have it. Take note of the following exercises to minimize it:

  • Adopt a 'box position', on all fours and lifting your abdominals, so your back remains straight
  • Curl your trunk by pulling in your stomach muscles and raising your back
  • Hold this position for a few seconds and then relax back to the box one
  • Perform this sequence for about ten times and be careful to not hurt your back in the process. Do it slowly!
  • If you feel some strain or pinching in your back, stop. Let it rest and try again without pushing that far


Besides trying with exercises like this, you should also incorporate more physical activity in your daily life to relieve back pain in pregnancy. Swimming and aquanatal classes can be a really good option for you. If you prefer it, though, go get a massage, especially on your lower back area. In addition, there are relaxation techniques before bedtime that are meant to help you deal with backache in pregnancy. Though not proven, some women also claim that having a hot bath can reduce discomfort.


When should I call the doctor?

Despite having ways to ease backache, you may still need help from a doctor. If the pain is severe and none of the tricks described above work out, you should then schedule an appointment with your GP, who can refer you to a specialist. Hopefully, he or she will provide you with an accurate treatment that will soothe your pain.


Back pain in pregnancy is, without a doubt, an uncomfortable side effect that you'll need to adapt to during these special months. Women who usually exercise and have more flexible bodies, tend to have a milder backache than others. So maybe, the best way to prevent it is by putting your body to work before getting pregnant.


Need help? Ask other mummies in CaptainMums' forum!


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