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How to Deal With Back Pain in Pregnancy

Katlyn Joy |16, October 2012


More than half of all pregnant women suffer from back pain at some point in their pregnancies. While the obvious heavy load of baby is one reason for back pain, there are other contributing factors as well.

Hormones play a role, as they loosen the ligaments and shift the joints as a byproduct of the process. While it's great during labor, when your pelvis and hips adjust to allow a full term baby to pass, it's less than great when you sprain your ankle so easily or your knees or back are aching.

You may have a back problem like a bulging disk without realizing it, as perhaps it caused no pain until the additional pregnancy pounds put more pressure on the already inflammed and weakened area.

This type of problem in particular can give rise to pain that travels down the lower back, through the buttocks and down the back of your thigh. This pain, commonly referred to as sciatica can be especially painful or annoying as many regular comfort measures do little to ease the discomfort.

Your center of gravity is off while you get heavier in pregnancy. This will put your back into a position that will increase pain or discomfort. You may also notice that you have more trouble than usual with balance due to the center of gravity being off.

Posture is another issue for pregnant women as it can be difficult to keep yourself properly aligned when sitting or standing, especially with the aforementioned center of gravity trouble.

Additionally, pregnancy is a stressful time and during times of noticeable stress, your body will hurt at the weakest point. Your core is likely to be a pain culprit.

While just grabbing a muscle relaxant or an anti-inflammatory may not be advisable or safe, that doesn't mean you can't do anything to help ease your back pain while pregnant.

Strategies to Ease Pregnancy Back Pain

1. Focus on proper posture. Avoid the tendency to lean back due to the heavy front load of baby. Instead, try to stand up tall with your head high and chin tucked. Keep your chest high yet your back and shoulders relaxed. Keep a pillow to support your back while sitting and if you must stand for long, use a stool for support.

2. Skip the high heels and tight jeans. Instead, buy outfits that are not binding but do have a low supportive maternity waistband, like many types of maternity jeans. Wear low heeled shoes with plenty of support and that will not be slippery but rather have traction. Consider the use of a maternity support band or belt, which you can find online or at maternity shops or departments.

3. Find a comfortable sleeping position that does not exacerbate your pain. One good position to try is to sleep on your side with a pillow tucked between your knees. You may need to experiment with the right firmness and thickness to provide the correct amount of support.

4. Be careful when lifting. If you have to lift something, or someone such as a toddler, be sure to get into a squatting position and put the weight on your legs. If something is a strain, then skip it and ask for help. Remember, it's a temporary situation and you need not feel badly for needing to cut back on some activities.

5. Keep physically active. You may not feel like it some days, but keep activity going. Take a walk. Go for a swim. You can keep it simple but keep it routine. You need to manage some fitness in your schedule in order to keep your muscles and joints strong and in place. Plus it will release good feeling endorphins into your system.

6. Get a massage. A nice back rub from your spouse or from a licensed massage therapist may just do the trick rubbing out those knots and increasing circulation to painful areas.

7. Try heat, or cold. A heating pad applied for no more than twenty minute increments, or apply a cold compress if you think that may help more than heat.

8. Stretch with some gentle prenatal yoga. Yoga can help improve posture, breathing and flexibility. You can strengthen your core muscles which support your back.

9. Get restful sleep each night. Your body requires rest to heal itself and when pregnant your sleep needs are even greater at times. If you wake every morning feeling unrested, you may need to speak with your doctor about safe ways to improve your sleep.

10. Eat a healthy diet. Sometimes aches and pains are just ways for our bodies to communicate to us that needs are not being met. Make sure you are taking your prenatal vitamin as directed by your physician. Also aim to eat plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables as well as maintaining proper protein intake.

Related Articles

8 Ways to Relieve Your Back Pain During Pregnancy

Maternity Belts To Relieve Back and Pelvic Pain in Pregnancy

Sciatica Pain in the 3rd Trimester of Pregnancy

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Molly Nov 2, 2012 12:21:08 PM ET

Thanks for this interesting and helpful read.I'm five and a half months and up until now iv'e put up with the pain until now where i'll try anything i can, it's not a crippling pain but it just makes it hard to daily tasks, and often stresses me out, which is something you obviously need to avoid during pregnancy. Iv'e recently bought a memory foam mattress which is wonderful for supporting my back at night, especially combined with my pregnancy pillow, and i have a pain free morning until the afternoon where it starts again. so i'm always on the look out for things to try so thanks so much for this was real helpful, Molly

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Barrett Keys Oct 20, 2012 12:34:39 PM ET

To sum it all up, you need to live a healthy life to get rid of back pain. Lifestyle change is necessary if you have a sedentary one.

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