Pregnancy Back Pain

Pregnancy Back Pain

One of the most common pregnancy complaints is back pain. Most of the time, back pain really starts to flare up during the second and third trimesters – when you’re gaining more weight. But some pregnant women experience back pain even in the earliest stages of pregnancy. There are several reasons for pregnancy back pain – and, fortunately, several ways to relieve it.

What causes back pain during pregnancy? 

This question seems like a no-brainer: gaining weight is a common cause of back pain. During pregnancy, though, the weight gain itself is only one piece of the puzzle.

Since the majority of the weight gained is distributed around the belly, causing your center of gravity to “tilt” forward. The shifting center of gravity on its own can cause pain and discomfort; but it’s the way that most women adjust their posture to combat their changing center of gravity – over-arching the lower back, rounding the upper back and shoulders – that causes the most pain.

It’s not just the added weight and the poor posture that causes the back pain and strain, though. The pregnancy hormone relaxin plays a large role as well.

Relaxin is actually a great thing. It’s what relaxes the ligaments throughout the body as pregnancy progresses, allowing the body to make room for the growing baby. It also helps prepare the pelvic area for labor and delivery. Unfortunately, the effects of relaxin go far beyond the pelvic area, and affect the ligaments throughout the body. When the ligaments in and around the spine become looser, the back muscles are forced to work that much harder. This causes added fatigue, muscle strain, and pain.

Relief from back pain 

The good news is that there are many things you can do to help relieve pregnancy back pain.

  • Physical Activity can help keep your back strong. Swimming provides an especially good workout during pregnancy, as it helps support your muscles and can relieve swelling and improve circulation.
  • Practice good posture. Keep your head and chest high, and avoid the urge to over-arch your back. Avoid standing for long periods if you can.
  • Sleep on your left side – especially during the later stages of pregnancy. Sleeping on your left side keeps the uterus from putting pressure on the vena cava, the vein located on the right side of the abdomen that keeps your blood circulating. You can also place a pillow under your belly and between your legs for added support.

When is back pain a sign of something more serious? 

If you experience pain that's centrally located very low in the back, and is accompanied by pelvic pressure, spotting, or unusually thick vaginal discharge, it may be a sign of preterm labor, and you should contact your doctor right away.

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