Pregnancy Information Center

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Back Pain During Pregnancy: Your Symptoms Manual


What Back Pain During Pregnancy Is

As your uterus expands, you may feel aches and pains in the back, abdomen, groin area, and thighs.

Many women also have backaches and aching near the pelvic bone due to the pressure of the baby's head, increased weight and loosening joints. The discomfort can be felt across the lower back, the buttocks and down the legs. Backache is exacerbated if you stand for too long with poor posture or you lift heavy objects. This is especially true during the third trimester.

Some pregnant women complain of pain that runs from the lower back, down the back of one leg, to the knee or foot. This is called sciatica. It is thought to occur when the uterus puts pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Some women may feel intense pain in their lower back when they rotate the spine and pelvis in opposite directions. For example, this can happen when you turn sideways in bed.

Why Back Pain During Pregnancy Happens

During pregnancy, your progesterone levels rise. This higher level of progesterone softens the ligaments of the pelvic bone in preparation for the stretching that will occur during labor. This softening also applies to the ligaments in the spine, which puts extra strain on the back and hip joints.

If you feel the intense pain in your lower back when turning sideways, this may be caused by your baby resting against your sacroiliac joint. This joint is about 3 inches in from the top of your buttocks. 

How to Relieve Back Pain During Pregnancy

To alleviate body aches, try the following:

  • Lie down.

  • Rest.

  • Apply heat.

  • Do exercises to strengthen your spine.

  • Sleep on a firm mattress.

  • Improve your posture.

  • Wear flats instead of high heels.

  • Use your thighs (not your back!) when lifting heavy objects.

  • If all else fails, get a massage!

Call your healthcare provider if the pain doesn't get better.

If you experience pain caused by your sacroiliac joint, you may want to try osteopathy, which involves manipulation of the bones and muscles. This pain may also go away by the fifth month, if you can wait that long.

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