Back Pain in Pregnancy

Back pain in pregnancy is a very common occurrence, effecting about two-thirds of pregnant women. This condition most often occurs where the hip meets the spine due to the extra burden above the hip, pushing on the back. Back pain in pregnancy usually effects the sacroiliac joints of the hip the most. The second half of pregnancy is usually when mothers-to-be experience the most amount of back pain, since the baby is at its heaviest and the body’s methods of preparing for labor are in full force.

Though completely normal, back pain in pregnancy can be avoided and treated so the mother-to-be is as comfortable as possible.


There are multiple reasons why women experience back pain in pregnancy. These include:

  • Weight Gain – The lower back must support typically between 25-35 extra pounds.
  • Posture – A woman’s posture shifts with the shift in her weight, often straining the back.
  • Hormones – Hormone changes allow ligaments of the hips to become looser in preparation for childbirth. This can happen in the spine as well, causing instability.
  • Stress – Psychological distress can cause tension in the back, especially the upper shoulder region.


  • Exercise – A doctor can recommend safe exercises that will strengthen muscles to reduce strain on the back, along with a Physical Therapy regimen. Building cardiovascular health through exercise will improve the mother’s strength and flexibility, supporting the back and relieving strain the most natural way possible. Water workouts, yoga, and pelvic tilts are some of the most effective remedies for back pain in pregnancy.
  • Ice and heat treatment – A doctor can determine if applying ice to the painful area at twenty minute intervals would help a patient’s specific back pain in pregnancy. After three days, heat should be applied instead, avoiding the abdomen area.
  • Improve posture – A doctor can provide tips to help keep the spine in alignment throughout the day.
  • Sleeping posture – Sleeping on the side rather than the back will reduce strain. A doctor may recommend a body pillow for back in pregnancy, to separate the knees and support the spine in sleep.
  • Acupuncture – A doctor may recommend this Chinese therapy, as it has been proven to improve back pain in pregnancy in numerous studies.


Though back pain in pregnancy is common in most pregnant women, it is important to discuss further treatment with a doctor if severe symptoms arise, such as:

  • Severe, sharp pains
  • Sudden pains
  • Rhythmic cramps

These symptoms could be a sign of a more serious issue, such as osteoporosis, arthritis, or preterm labor.

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