How to manage back pain during pregnancy
One of the most common discomforts experienced in pregnancy is back pain. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to ease back pain during pregnancy. Brittany Hall, certified nurse-midwife, spoke on managing back pain during pregnancy, including causes, ways to help ease the discomfort and when to know if you should speak to a provider.
What causes back pain during pregnancy?
“There are multiple factors that contribute to make back pain one of the most common discomforts during pregnancy,” said Hall.
One of the largest root causes of back pain in pregnancy is a change in hormones. A hormone called relaxin is released by the placenta, causing the ligaments of the pelvis to soften and relax. This makes it easier for the mother’s body to accommodate the growth of the fetus, but it also makes the surrounding joints lax.
With softened ligaments and joints and a change in the center of gravity and posture, the back and pelvis are subjected to greater stress, which causes pain and discomfort.
Is there any way to prevent back pain during pregnancy?
“While we can’t guarantee you won’t experience any pain at all given the normal changes that occur during pregnancy,” said Hall, “there are steps you can take to help prevent the onset of back pain or to ease it if it occurs.”
A maternity support belt, which can be purchased online or in maternity-specific stores, helps to ease back pain in pregnancy. Most are designed to be comfortably worn with or over your regular clothing and can be adjusted for the level of support you need.
Other tips for preventing back pain during pregnancy include:
- Wear comfortable, non-constricting, low-heeled shoes with arch and sole support. Flat sandals or shoes without support can make the pain worse.
- Sit with good, straight-backed posture and consider using a small pillow for additional support of the lower back.
- Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees for improved back support. There are also pillows designed specifically for pregnancy that may be used.
- Speak with your doctor or healthcare provider about safe pain relief during pregnancy if the discomfort worsens or doesn’t alleviate with comfort measures.
Does exercise help?
“Low-to-moderate intensity exercise can help to strengthen muscles and stabilize the spine, and that will have serious benefits both on your overall well-being and on back pain,” said Hall.
Exercises that are safe for pregnancy include walking, stretching, and yoga, but there are plenty of other options, too. Speak with your doctor or medical team about exercises you enjoy and whether you might want to modify them during pregnancy, or if you can continue them as usual.
Do I need to call my doctor about back pain in pregnancy?
“For most, this pain can be managed at home and without the need for medical intervention,” said Hall.
However, in some cases you will want to speak with your midwife or doctor.
If you are experiencing symptoms that are persistent and continue to get worse despite taking steps to ease or prevent the pain or if your pain is severe, unrelenting or accompanied by vaginal bleeding, fluid leakage, abdominal pain or other concerning symptoms, please notify your obstetric provider right away.
Find an OB/GYN provider who’s right for you
When you’re ready to grow your family, choosing the right provider is important. Learn more about our obstetricians, midwives and nurse practitioners.Find a Provider