Your pregnant body
- Low-back pain when you stand or sit
- Pain that is worst in the back of your pelvis and deep in your buttocks
- Pain in your lower back when you are in bed at night
Back pain can be caused by:
- The strain on the back from carrying the extra weight of pregnancy
- Changes in posture to offset the extra weight of pregnancy. This shifts your center of gravity forward and puts more strain on the lower back.
- Strain on the weakened and stretched muscles in the abdomen that support the spine
Although some amount of backache is normal, severe back pain is not. It can be a warning sign of infection or complications, especially when a woman also has fever or other symptoms.
What you can do
You can lessen some of the normal back pain encountered during pregnancy by following these tips:
- Be aware of your posture.
- Try to keep your hips pulled forward and your back straight. Don't be a "sway back."
- Wear low-heeled shoes with good arch support.
- Avoid wearing high heels. They can strain your lower back muscles.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects. This can put even more strain on your back.
- If you must pick something up from the floor, squat down, bend at the knees and keep your back straight. Do not bend over from the waist.
- Split larger loads into two smaller loads. Holding them in either hand may be easier than carrying one large load.
- If you must carry a large object, keep it close to your body.
Bending and stretching
- Keep objects you need close by so you don't have to bend or stretch to pick them up.
- Be careful. It's easy to lose your balance when you are pregnant.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time, if possible.
- If you have to stand for an extended period, rest one foot on a stool or box. This will help relieve the strain on your back.
- Sit in chairs with good back support.
- Tuck a small pillow behind your lower back for extra support while sitting.
- A firm mattress provides better back support than a soft one.
- If your mattress is too soft, a board between the mattress and box spring will make it firmer.
- Sleep on your side instead of your back.
- Tuck a pillow between your legs when lying on your side. The pillow will help straighten your spine and give extra support to your back.
- Look for maternity pants that have a wide elastic band to be worn under the curve of your belly. This band will help support the extra weight.
- Consider using special abdominal-support girdles. They can provide back support and are available in maternity stores.
Heat or cold
- Apply a heating pad set to the lowest temperature, a hot water bottle filled with warm water or a cold compress.
- To avoid excessive cold or heat, wrap the heating pad, hot water bottle or compress in a towel.
- Try gently rubbing or kneading the sore areas of your lower back. Ask your partner or a friend to help.
- Consider getting a massage designed for pregnant women.
- Medication to treat back pain during pregnancy is usually not a good option.
- Always check with your health care provider before taking any type of medication.
- Certain exercises can help strengthen and stretch your back muscles.
- They can also improve your posture and strengthen your abdominal muscles for labor and delivery.
- Talk with your health care provider about which exercises are safe for you and how long you should keep doing them during pregnancy.