Q&A: What’s causing my pregnancy backache?

Posted in Pregnancy FAQs, Pregnancy Symptoms and tagged , .

Question & Answer

Carrying a babe in front means some added pressure on our backs, and getting comfy or sleeping gets tricker as the bump gets bigger. So what causes pregnancy backache, and what are some ways to help ease the pain?

Anyone else suffering upper back and neck pain as they get bigger? With my first two it was all hips and lower back but this time it feels like all the muscles along my spine up near my shoulders and neck are being stretched and torn and I’ve had a tension headache for a week today. I’m only 32+4 weeks and have been in tears. Just for reference, I have a very high pain tolerance so to be in tears it’s gotta be pretty bad.

Kirra, Mum's Grapevine Group Member

What causes pregnancy backache?

What causes backache during pregnancy?

A combination of strain on the body and the effects of the hormone relaxin is what’s usually at the root of pregnancy backache.

Growing bellies mean more weight out front and more weight in general, so our back and spine are under more pressure than usual. Our bodies are also producing the hormone relaxin, which helps loosen joint and ligaments in our bodies ahead of childbirth. The result is a less stable body that is more prone to injury, particularly in our backs.

How can we ease pregnancy backache?

There are quite a few ways to take the strain off our backs while pregnant, and many of them involve adjusting the way we’re used to doing things.

Here are some ways to tackle pregnancy backache:

  • Try not to put added pressure on your back by picking up anything heavy (that includes toddlers!).
  • If you do have to pick up something heavish (like a kiddo), do it the right way – bend your knees, squat and use your legs to do the heavy lifting.
  • Don’t push your gorgeous belly out too much, just stand up straight.
  • Try not to stand for too long, and try and prop your feet up when you are taking a breather.
  • Sit with a pillow at the small of your back.
  • A warm towel, hot water bottle or heat pack (that’s not too hot) on your painful back areas may help.
  • Ditch the high heels if you can. Go for shoes with good arch support.
  • Sleep on your side with one knee bent and invest in a good maternity pillow.
  • Use maternity belly support bands to help ease the strain.
  • Ask your healthcare provider for some low-impact exercises to help with back pain.

When is pregnancy back pain serious?

Sometimes backache in pregnancy is a sign of something other than just strain – a urinary tract infection or even the start of labour. So always have a chat with your doctor, midwife or obstetrician about your pain.

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