Pregnancy and Back Pain

Oh my aching pregnant back!

Pregnant woman at hospital in back labor
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Back pain and pregnancy just seem to go together! When you see a pregnant woman you see her rubbing her belly and holding her back. Why is it that the majority of pregnant women will have backache as a nearly daily complaint? And, more importantly, what can you do about it?

Why Your Back Hurts

When you are pregnant your body produces a variety of hormones. One of these hormones is called Relaxin. Sounds like something really soothing and helpful, which it is, for birth. Relaxin causes the ligaments and the pelvis to soften to allow the baby out through the pelvis. This is also why pregnant women "waddle."

In addition, the pelvis relaxing for the upcoming event of birth, your uterus is growing and this does three things:

  • Changes your center of gravity
  • Relaxing uterine ligaments cause additional strain to be placed on the spine and your surrounding muscles
  • Your overstretched abdominal muscles are also not equipped to handle the entire weight of the uterus so your spine and back muscles will bear this extra burden as well.

Posture is another culprit. As your mother would say, "Stand up straight, shoulders back..." I would add, "Uterus up and out, be proud!"

If this is not your first pregnancy you have two additional concerns regarding your back: your older children and the fact that second pregnancies tend to experience all symptoms of pregnancy a bit earlier on. Ensure that you lift your children using your legs and not your back when bathing them kneel at the tub instead of bending at the waist (What waist?), or have someone else take on these chores. Children may need a bit of an explanation why you can't carry them around as much, but in the long run, you will be grateful for protecting your back.


Prevention is the best management for this discomfort. Preventative measures include:

  • Exercises (particularly ​pelvic tilts)
  • Paying attention to your posture
  • Lifting and bending appropriately
  • Consider chiropractic adjustments
  • Massage (professional and personal)
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