How to prevent lower back pain in pregnancy

Preventing Back Pain | How to Prevent Lower Back Pain

You could prevent yourself from getting back pain by enhancing your physical condition and learning how to practice the right body mechanics. Below are just some of the preventive measures against the ailment.

To make sure that your back is kept strong and healthy, you should:

  • Stop smoking: Smoking can diminish the oxygen levels of the body thus slowing down the healing process of a painful back.

Aside from the things mentioned above, standing, sitting and lifting smart are also among the best things that you can do to avoid back pain.

Dr D. Muller

Family chiropractor at Yonge & Eglinton

How does pregnancy affect low back pain? What about epidural?

How does pregnancy affect low back pain? What about epidural?

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How to prevent lower back pain in pregnancyDuring pregnancy, serious pain affect about 25%, and severe disability in about 8% of women. During the post partum nearly 7% of all women develop serious problems. The mechanisms that cause disabilities remain unclear. Modifications in muscle activity, abnormal perceptions of the leg with movement, and altered motor coordination were observed but are still poorly understood.

In general, around 45% of all pregnant women and 25% of all postpartum women suffer from pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain and pregnancy-related low back pain (LBP). Contrary to low back pain in pregnancy, the prevalence of pelvic pain in pregnancy was found to be higher in second and later pregnancies. Vigorous work, previous episodes of low back pain, previous lumbopelvic pain during or after pregnancy are risk factors that are strongly correlated with low back pain during and after pregnancy.

Study indicates weak evidence linking epidural anesthesia with low back pain after pregnancy. Low back pain during the post-partum was reported to naturally improve in 3 months in 93% of cases, whereas the 7% who did not get better turned out to be at high risk for persistent severe pain. The general descriptions of pregnancy-related low back pain are: pelvic girdle pain usually presents as “stabbing”; pain located in the lower back is described as a “dull ache”, and pain in the thoracic spine is usually reported as “burning”.

In a group of pregnant women with lumbopelvic and/or thoracic pain, the examiners reported “shooting pain” in 80% of patients, a “feeling of oppression” in 65%, and both “a sharp twinge” and “dull pain” in 50%. Pelvic girdle pain has been reported to be more severe than LBP during pregnancy, while the reverse situation was observed postpartum. Prolonged standing and walking were the most common triggers of pain.

Chiropractic care helps the patients improving pain, discomfort, stiffness and even the baby’s optimal position and the progression of labour.

How to prevent lower back pain in pregnancy

Dr. D Muller, BSc, DC, Webster Certified, ICPA Member

How to prevent lower back pain in pregnancy

How to prevent lower back pain in pregnancy How to prevent lower back pain in pregnancy

    How to prevent lower back pain in pregnancy

Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy

Back pain in pregnancy can be from a variety of things with the biggest reason being the weight that you will be carrying around and the extra workout the back muscles will go through while you are pregnant.

In the beginning of your pregnancy, if you are not already on an exercising schedule, you should start one right away. This will be one of the best things you can do to prevent having back pain during pregnancy. Keeping those muscles moving is the best defense a pregnant woman has for keeping her back healthy and in optimal condition for carrying around the weight of a baby.

No matter how much you exercise, back pain will be inevitable to some degree. There will still be reasons why you will have pains in your back during a pregnancy that any amount of exercise won’t relieve. These could be caused by the lack of space you will have due to a growing uterus. The uterus may be resting on the sciatic nerve that will cause you to have back pain along with leg pain while you are pregnant. That is just something that will happen with some women while they are going through the later months of their pregnancy.

Once you start gaining weight in your abdomen area, your center of gravity will shift and could cause your posture to change. Keeping an eye on your posture will help you to avoid falling forward and then having unnecessary back pain that could have been prevented just by practicing proper posture techniques. Always keep your shoulders back and stand as straight as you can to help relieve your back pain during pregnancy.

Finding ways to relieve your stress levels will also help alleviate back pain in pregnancy. Stress has a way of making it to the weakest part of your body. This means that stress can invade your muscles due to the changes that are going on in your body while your baby is growing.

All of your joints and muscles may ache during pregnancy because of the hormones that are released during this time. These special pregnancy hormones work to prepare the body for having a baby. They will soften joints and even loosen up ligaments in some areas which may be the cause of many women’s back pain in pregnancy.

While the pain from a woman’s back during pregnancy may not be completely eliminated, there are a few things in combination with a regular exercise routine that will help to prevent as much back pain as possible.

Sleeping on your left side with a pillow between your knees will give your hips and back the proper alignment and support needed for a good night’s sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep will help with stress levels as well.

If you have short spells of back pain in pregnancy, you can try to relieve it with a heating pad or ice. You might even want to alternate the two for best results.

Back Pain during Pregnancy

Is upper and lower back pain normal in pregnancy?

Back pain is quite common in pregnancy with most women experiencing mild to moderate pain in the lower [1] or upper [2] back area in pregnancy. Usually, it just signifies that your baby is growing inside you. But in some rare occasions, it may indicate some serious complications [3] . Back pain is believed to be more common in twin pregnancies [18] .

Types of Back Pain during Pregnancy

  • A mild to moderate lower and middle back pain when you stand up or sit down [3]
  • Severe pain in the back of the pelvis and the buttocks
  • Considerable lower back pain experienced when lying down in bed

Is lower back pain an early sign of pregnancy?

Although back pain can occur anytime during the first, second or third trimester, mild chronic lower and middle back pain is considered one of the less common early symptoms of pregnancy [4] , often resulting from the hormonal changes occurring in your body [5] . It is often accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, gas, heartburn, constipation, fatigue and headache in the first trimester.

Back Pain in Pregnancy Risk Factors

  • Being overweight [6]
  • Being over 30 years of age [7]
  • Second pregnancy

What causes back pain in pregnancy

  • The hormonal changes associated with pregnancy is often responsible for back pain in late pregnancy as well, as it loosens the pelvic joints and softens the ligaments in the area to prepare the body for labor and childbirth [8]
  • Your center of gravity, moving forward with the growth of your baby can lead to back pain by altering your posture [9]
  • The additional weight gained during pregnancy [3]
  • Poor posture and standing or bending over a lot
  • Lifting something heavy or performing something strenuous
  • Excessive stress associated with pregnancy
  • Past injury to the pelvic region can lead to back pain while pregnant
  • Pelvic girdle pain or a slipped disk

It is quite normal to experience back pain after pregnancy due to the hard work associated with delivery as well as the body changes after childbirth [27].

How to prevent back pain in pregnancy?

  • Avoiding slouching or bending down
  • Avoiding sitting or standing still for a long time
  • Wearing comfortable low-heeled shoes (not flat) that provide proper arch support [10]
  • When getting out of bed, rolling on to the side of the bed before sitting up and finally getting into a standing position
  • Maintaining good posture (keeping your back straight when sitting or standing) and using proper lumbar support when sitting in a chair
  • Avoiding lifting heavy objects unless necessary (bending down your legs and lifting with your hands and legs instead of the back, keeping the object close to your body can prevent the pain) [11]
  • Avoiding twisting your body; instead, move your feet while turning around [12]
  • Sleeping on one side in a pregnancy pillow to support your body (supporting your back and legs with a normal pillow can help as well) [10]
  • Sleeping in a firm mattress that can properly support your back (placing a hard board between the box spring and mattress can make a soft mattress firm) [3]
  • Wearing a maternity support belt (especially to prevent upper back pain)
  • Doing exercises like pelvic tilts to strengthen your back [13]
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Drinking lots of fluid to eliminate certain toxins, which may cause various complications, leading to upper back pain [14]
  • Sleeping on your left side

Pregnancy Back Pain Relief

Home Remedies for Relieving Back Pain in Pregnancy

  • Applying a hot water bag or a heating pad (make sure the temperature is not too high; wrapping the hot water bag with a towel helps to avoid excessive temperature) [3]
  • Applying a cold compress to the painful area to relax the sore muscles [13] (make sure the ice pack is not too cold; avoid applying it for an extended period of time)
  • Taking a warm bath [19]
  • Bed rest
  • Asking a friend to rub the painful area gently

Light exercises like pelvic tilts [15] , walking and stretching can help. But, avoid forcing yourself to exercise too hard as it may strain the ligaments further or harm the baby. Here is a simple exercise technique to help ease the pain [12] :

  • Begin by resting in a box position, with your knees under the hips, your hands under the shoulder and your fingers facing forward
  • Make sure your abdomen is lifted high enough to keep the back straight
  • Next, pull in the stomach muscles before lifting your back up in the direction of the ceiling while curling the trunk and letting your head relax gently forward (do not lock the elbows)
  • Hold in this position for a few seconds before slowly returning to the previous (box) position (keep your back straight)
  • Repeat the whole procedure slowly 10 times
  • This exercise helps to strengthen your muscles; but be careful not to put too much pressure on your back or you may hurt it further.

    Water exercises and swimming are good for your back as well (make sure to avoid the styles that are likely to strain your neck and back) [16] .

    Natural Remedies

    There is a lack of scientific research regarding the safety of using natural back pain cures, like devil’s claw, in pregnancy [16] . So, it is safe to avoid these herbal remedies.


    Pain relieve medicines are usually not recommended to pregnant women as they may increase the risks of various complications [3] . It is recommended to talk to your doctor before considering using any pain medication for fighting back pain.

    Other Treatments to Relive Back Pain

    • Massage therapy by a trained professional therapist [6]
    • Chiropractic therapy by a licensed practitioner [20]
    • Practicing relaxation techniques (e.g. slow breathing, tai chi etc)
    • Doing pre-natal yoga [17]
    • Taking homeopathic medicines like rhus tox 12C and arnica 30C [21] or applying arnica ointment to the affected area [16] (make sure to consult a qualified professional homeopath)
    • Taking an aromatic warm bathwith a few drops of lavender oil (not recommended during first trimester as lavender may induce premature contractions) [16] or using special aromatherapy massage oils meant for pregnant women
    • Studies show acupuncture to be an effective treatment option [22]

    Lower Back Pain Vs Sciatica during Pregnancy

    Sciatica is a relatively uncommon pregnancy complication related to the sciatic nerve, occurring due to a herniated disk in lower spine. Severe lower back pain radiating into the thighs and buttocks is often mistaken for sciatica. But, sciatica is characterized by leg pain that is usually more severe than the lower back pain along with a tingly numbness in the knees, foot and toes [1] .


    Preventing Back Pain | How to Prevent Lower Back Pain

    How does pregnancy affect low back pain? What about epidural?

    Back Pain during Pregnancy