Healthy Pregnancy: How and Why You Might Suffer From Back Pain

Back pain constitutes one of the most common complaints in pregnancy, especially during the 3rd trimester. It can even persist after the delivery for several months.

Back pain typically develops in the lower midline, but it’s also associated with generalized discomfort of the hips, pubic bones, and ligaments. 

The pain occurs primarily because of the growing uterus, and the pressure that puts on the vertebral column, shifting it forward. With the increasing weight of pregnancy, the abdominal muscles weaken and stretch, and the center of gravity changes, making it more difficult to maintain balance. Also, hormones associated with pregnancy relax the ligaments of the pelvis to allow it to accommodate a delivery, but that also decreases the stability of the entire pelvis, making it even more uncomfortable.  

To help minimize your lower back pain, do the following:

  • wear athletic or walking shoes with good arch support.  No high heels or flats, and no sandals 
  • consider wearing abdominal support garments sold in most maternity stores
  • some maternity pants come with a support band to help support the weight of the pregnancy
  • sit on chairs with good lumbar supports, or tuck a pillow behind your lower back
  • when lifting, squat down and bend your knees and lift while keeping your back straight.  No bending at the waist.
  • consider sleeping on your side and keep your knees bent with a pillow between them, or use a body pillow
  • heating pads or warm water bottles are acceptable to use 
  • core strengthening exercises help the back and pelvis , and we also recommend walking and water exercises.  Physical rehab or exercises and even chiropractor intervention may also be recommended when needed
  • avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.  If you must stand for an extended period, consider resting one foot on a stool or box to help take pressure off the back.  If you sit for extended periods, shift frequently from side to side and make sure there’s good lumbar support.  Posture is very important, and stretching exercises, yoga, and relaxation techniques can all help.  
  • Occasionally, and for severe cases, we may consult an anesthesiologist with pain management experience.  They may recommend injections, pain patches, or other interventions for pain management 

Remember that pregnancy can be very stressful on your back and musculoskeletal system.  Understanding the why and how of this condition can help you adapt and find the most suitable options for your relief.