How to Relieve Back Pain in Pregnancy

How to relieve back pain during pregnancy

Perhaps you want to relieve back pain during pregnancy, or know someone who is pregnant and suffering from back ache, if so this is for you. 

While pregnancy can be one of the most rewarding events that a woman will ever experience, but there is no denying that along with the joys of expectancy, the body needs some extra TLC. 

For back pain in pregnancy, a pregnant woman can lie on her back with her legs bent and her arms stretched along her body, keeping the entire spine well rested on the floor or on a firm mattress. This position accommodates the vertebrae extremely well, releasing the pressure and  relieving the back pain in a few minutes.

You can relieve even more back pain by stretching, from this same position, and holding one leg at a time, placing the hands behind the thighs as shown in the image below. With this movement the lumbar spine is rectified bringing immediate relief from back pain. This elongation should be maintained for at least 1 minute at a time, with controlled breathing.


relieve back pain in pregnancy
Lie on a firm surface


stretches in pregnancy
stretches in pregnancy


Other strategies for relieving back pain during pregnancy are:

  • Wear hot compress : take a hot bath, directing the water jet from the shower to the region where it hurts or apply a hot water bag on the back. Also, using warm compresses, with basil or eucalyptus essential oils over the affected region, for 15 minutes 3 to 4 times a day may also help;
  • Use cushions between your legs to sleep on your side , or under your knees when sleeping.
  • Massage : back and leg massage can be done with almond oil 2 to 3 times a day by the partner or physiotherapist to relieve pressure on the muscles. See the benefits and contraindications of massage in pregnancy .
  • Do stretches with the whole body to relax the tension of muscles.

In some cases, it may be necessary to use an anti-inflammatory ointment such as Boiron Arnicare Gel for Muscle Aches, and in such cases, one should consult the medium before its use, so as not to harm the baby’s health.

Here’s a nifty way to make a hot compress to relieve back pain with rice!


Pain in the lower back during pregnancy


More than likely, the back pain you are experiencing is due to a growing uterus and the hormonal changes in the body.

An expanding uterus displaces the center of gravity and stretches and weakens the abdominal muscles, this essentially causes your posture to change and your back to be subjected to additional pressure. The uterus can also put pressure on a nerve and that could cause back pain.

In addition, the extra weight you carry represents more work for your muscles and greater stress for your joints, which explains why you may feel that back pain worsen at the end of the day.

On the other hand, the hormonal changes of pregnancy distend the joints and the ligaments that connect the pelvic bones to the spine. This can make you feel less stable and more likely to have pain when doing the following activities:

  • Walking.
  • Standing or sitting for extended periods of time.
  • Rolling over in bed
  • Getting up from a low chair.
  • Getting out of the tub (bathtub).
  • Bending over
  • Picking up objects

If you suffer from back pain during pregnancy, you’re not alone. More than 65% of pregnant women suffer from back pain, especially in the back of the pelvis and in the lower back. It’s a common that pain occurs in the last months of pregnancy or it intensifies as the pregnancy progresses.

The pain may even continue after the baby is born. But do not worry, it is very likely to disappear in a few months after delivery



Posterior pelvic pain in pregnancy

The posterior pelvic pain , this is a type of back pain that is felt at the back of the pelvis. This is the most common type of back pain during pregnancy, although many women also suffer from pain in the lumbar spine.

The posterior pelvic pain can be felt deep inside the buttocks, in one or both, or in the back of the thighs. It may be triggered by certain activities such as the following:

  • Walking.
  • Climbing stairs.
  • Enter or leave the tub.
  • Sit or get up from a low chair.
  • Roll over in bed
  • Turn the body.
  • Lift heavy objects.

The positions in which you flex your hips, such as when you sit in a chair or lean forward while working sitting at the desk, can worsen the pelvic pain later. Women with posterior pelvic pain are also more predisposed to having pain in the pubic bone.

pelvic pain in pregnancy


What else can cause back pain in pregnancy?

Back pain in pregnancy is usually caused by muscle changes. This pain almost always worsens when the pregnant woman is standing or sitting for a long time, turns around in bed, picks something off the floor, walks or at the end of the day is usually of muscular origin and arises due to the growth of the belly, which causes weakening of the abdominal muscles and overloads the spine.

Another cause of back pain in pregnancy is sciatic pain, which is very strong, this seems to ‘pin one leg’, making it difficult to walk and remain seated. In addition, at the end of pregnancy, after 37 weeks of gestation, uterine contractions may also manifest as back pain that arise rhythmically and only relieve after the baby’s birth.Here’s how to spot the signs of contraction identify the contractions to know what time to go to the hospital


Could it be sciatica?

When pain in the lower back radiates to the buttocks and thighs, it is often confused with sciatica, a condition that is not common. True sciatica, which can be caused by a hernia or an inflammation of a disc in the lower part of the spine, affects only about 1% of pregnant women.

If you have sciatica, the leg pain will usually be more intense than the back pain. You may also feel pain below the knee, which may even radiate to the foot and fingers of the knee. It may come as a  tingling sensation in your legs or you may feel as if your legs gone to sleep.


Image result for sciatica


Symptoms of sciatica

If the sciatica is intense, you may also feel numbness in the groin or genital area. It may even happen that you have difficulty urinating or evacuating. Or you may suffer from the opposite problem, that is, incontinence (difficulty in containing urine or stool).

If you think you have sciatica, tell your doctor. Call immediately if you notice loss of sensation or weakness in one or both legs or if you feel loss of feeling in the groin, bladder or anus. 


Who are more predisposed to have this type of pain?

If you suffered this type of pain, either before becoming pregnant or during a previous pregnancy, you will be more prone to pain in the lower back. You also present greater risk if you lead a very sedentary lifestyle, you are not very agile and the muscles of your back and abdomen are weak.

If you are pregnant with twins , or even more babies, you are also more likely to have back pain



How to prevent back pain during pregnancy

To avoid back pain in pregnancy it is important to be within the ideal weight before becoming pregnant. In addition it is important:

  • Do not gain more weight than recommended by your doctor;
  • Wear a support brace for pregnant women;
  • Do stretching exercises for the legs and back every day in the morning and evening. Learn how to: Stretching exercises in pregnancy ;
  • Doing exercise to keep muscles and joints strong;
  • Always keep your back straight , seated and when you walk.
  • Avoid lifting weights , but if you have to do this, hold the object close to your body, bending your knees and keeping your back straight;
  • Avoid wearing high heels and sandals , preferring shoes with 3 cm, comfortable and firm.

During pregnancy the ligaments become looser, leaving the joints more prone to injury. The balance center of the body also changes position, causing discomfort.

how to stop back pain in pregnancy


What can I do to ease the pain?


If you have back pain, you may have more desire to lie down than exercise, but try not to spend too much time in bed. In the long run, lying down will not relieve your back pain and could even aggravate it. In fact, moving and exercising could be precisely what your body needs.

Before starting a physical activity program, talk to your doctor. In some situations, you will have to limit activity or even not exercise . If the doctor gives you the approval, you can try the following modalities:

  • Weight training will help you strengthen the muscles that support your back and legs, including your abs.
  • Stretching exercises increase the flexibility of the muscles of the back and legs. Just make sure to do them slowly, because if you do them too quickly, you could relax the joints, which are more relaxed due to the pregnancy hormones.
  • The swimming is another great exercise for pregnancy because it strengthens the muscles of the abdomen and back, plus the train at the water, you eliminate the pressure on your joints and ligaments. One option is to look for a class of prenatal water exercises in your community. These exercises are very relaxing, and there are studies that suggest that exercising in the water could reduce the intensity of back pain during pregnancy.
  • Walking is another low-impact alternative to consider. It is also very easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
  • Pelvic tilt exercises can relieve lower back pain by stretching and strengthening the muscles. We explain how they are done: lean on the hands and knees (on all fours) by moving the arms away from your shoulders and knees at the distance of your pelvis. Keep your arms straight, but do not get your elbows. Slowly arch your back at the same time you contract the buttocks inwards (like a cat when it is scared), and inspire. Relax your back by returning to a neutral position, at the same time you expire. Repeat this movement three to five times, at your own pace.


Look at your posture


  •  This recommendation becomes more difficult as your body changes, but focus on keeping your buttocks in and your shoulders back. Pregnant women tend to drop their shoulders and arch their backs as their pads grow, which increases the pressure on the spine.
  • If you spend most of the day sitting, make sure you keep your back straight. To prevent low back pain, you can rest your feet on a stool or place a small pillow (or “fanny pack”) behind your waist. Take frequent breaks to get up and walk a little, preferably from hour to hour.
  • Equally important is to avoid standing for a long time. If your work requires that you are standing all day, always try to rest one foot on a stool (bench) low, alternating them every time. Take breaks and, if you can, try to rest at lunchtime lying on your side, bending one leg and resting your knee on a pillow.
  • Pay attention to movements that aggravate pain. If you have pelvic pain later, try to limit activities such as climbing stairs, for example. Also avoid any kind of exercise in which you have to do exaggerated hip or spine movements.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and make sure they have an internal template with good support. Keep away from the heels for now, because as your belly grows and your center of gravity changes, the heels affect your posture even more and increase the possibility of you losing your balance and falling.
  • When lifting objects, always bend the knees instead of bending the waist, to minimize the pressure on the back. Better yet, let someone else lift heavy things or take them out of high places for you, and you will avoid hurting yourself.
  • Also avoid the movements of hip rotation, and the activities in which you have to bend and twist the waist, such as vacuuming or mopping the floor. If there is no one who can do these things for you, turn your whole body instead of twisting your waist and stretching to reach difficult places.
  • Divide the weight of the objects that you have to carry. It is preferable to load two shopping bags, one in each hand, that carry all the weight in a single bag and on one side.
  • Be careful when getting out of bed: bend your knees and legs, turn your body to one side, support your hands and stretch your arms to lift the body, letting your feet hang out of the bed.
  • To sleep and rest better , try lying on your side, bending one or both knees and placing a pillow between your legs. As your pregnancy progresses, use another pillow under your abdomen. You may have to sleep on a firmer mattress that offers support for your back or buy a cover or foam padding for your mattress.

Take care and treat yourself with love

Do not lose anything to indulge and take some measures to relieve pain and tension in your body. On the contrary, you will feel better, even for a while. So take your time and consider the following suggestions:

  • Learn relaxation techniques . They can help you cope with the discomfort and can be especially useful at bedtime, if back pain is one of the things that make it difficult for you to sleep.
  • Apply heat. There is some evidence that the heat may give you temporary relief. Soaking in a tub with lukewarm water or placing a bottle of hot water on the affected region may also ease the pain. Or place a hot water bag or heating pad on your back.
  • Try an ice pack. Although there is no concrete evidence that cold packs help, applying them is easy to do and it is worth trying if hot packs do not work for you. It is recommended that if you use compresses, whether cold or hot, cover them with a tablecloth (or piece of cloth) to protect your skin.
  • Pamper yourself and have a massage. Prenatal massages, performed by a trained therapist, can provide some relief and relaxation. You can also ask your partner or a friend to give you a light massage. (Most health insurance companies do not cover massages, however, if the pain is very intense and constant, your doctor may refer you to a trained prenatal massage therapist.)


When to go to the doctor

Back pain in pregnancy is not always dangerous, but the pregnant woman should go to the doctor if the pain in her back remains after all forms of relief or when it is so intense that it prevents her from sleeping or walking, for example. In addition, the doctor should be consulted when the back pain arises suddenly or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea or shortness of breath.

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