How to manage back pain in pregnancy

Pregnant woman having back pains.

Pregnancy is a time of many physical changes to your body. Knowing what to expect and how to cope can help you have a healthy and comfortable pregnancy.

One common complaint during pregnancy is backaches and pains. Many people in my prenatal program often complain of this especially as they get further along in their pregnancy.

Why do you have more back pain in pregnancy?

There are a couple reasons that you may have back pain in pregnancy:

  1. An increase in the hormone relaxin may cause the ligaments to loosen around your spine causing more instability which may cause back pain in pregnancy.
  2. Your growing belly will shift your centre of gravity. This changes your posture and as a result the size and weight of your belly moves your body forward placing heavier strain on your lower back.

These changes can cause you to have poor body movements and/or alignment.

3 Tips to help prevent and manage back pain:

  1. Be comfortable

Wear comfortable low heeled shoes. High heeled shoes can shift your weight forward throwing your balance off.

  1. Mind your posture

Avoid long periods of standing and/or sitting, however; sometimes that’s not possible. Being mindful of your posture can help you ward off backaches and pain. Here’s a few ways to help:

    • Standing: Keep one foot on a stool to help ease the strain on your back. Remember to stand up straight, keeping your shoulders back and relaxed.
    • Sitting: Use a footstool to keep your knees positioned higher than your hips. Place a pillow behind your back for support. Avoid crossing your legs.
    • Sleeping: Avoid sleeping on your back after 16 weeks of pregnancy. When sleeping on your side, use a pillow between your knees to help keep your body properly positioned.
  1. Keep active and be aware of your body movements

Consult with your doctor about stretching exercises and limits to your activity.  Walking and water exercises can help strengthen your muscles and prevent back pain.

Use your leg muscles and bend your knees when lifting a low object and keep yourself steady by using the handrails when climbing stairs.

Speak with a health care provider if you have a history of back pain or if you have tried some strategies without any improvement or relief.

If you have further questions eChat with a Public Health Nurse or call (416) 338-7600.

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