Back Pain in Pregnant Women--Why Your Low Back Hurts During Pregnancy, and How to Get Relief

By: Orit Cox

Back pain in pregnant women is a very common complaint. In fact, as many as 80% of pregnant women will have back pain at some time during their pregnancy. There are several types of back pain that occur among expectant mothers, but low back pain is the most common. But why does your low back hurt during pregnancy?

Backache can occur for a number of reasons, which can be reduced to two main issues: hormones and postural changes.

During pregnancy, your body produces a veritable cocktail of hormones. Among these is a hormone called relaxin. The primary role of relaxin is to loosen the joints and ligaments in your body in order to help them stretch and widen. This allows your body to more easily make room for your baby inside of your pelvis. And, when the time comes for your baby to be born, the hormone relaxin will have helped the joints of your pelvis relax and stretch enough for your baby's shoulders to pass through your pelvic bones.

But what does all that have to do with lower back pain? Well, unfortunately, your body is unable to isolate which ligaments and joints will stretch and loosen, and this happens on a broad scale throughout your body. As the ligaments and muscles which normally support your spine become lax, it can result in some instability in the spine, which can result in aching and discomfort.

As your uterus expands and your baby grows, it also causes immense changes in your posture, which can result in aching. As your abdomen and uterus stretch, it puts a greater strain on your back muscles.

Your center of gravity is changing. Your abdomen is shifting out and down, and your spine curves backward to try to compensate for this shift. As a result, your spinal muscles become sore and tired, and more prone to injury and strain.

This article will explore the causes of back pain during pregnancy, discuss the different types of back pain that occur, and provide information about what can be done to prevent and relieve prenatal back pain.

There are two common types of low back pain in pregnancy, lumbar pain and posterior pelvic pain.

Lumbar pain is similar to the kind of back pain you may have experienced before you became pregnant. Lumbar discomfort is felt in the lower spine, at the level of, or slightly higher than, your waist. It can also result in pain that radiates to your legs.

Lumbar discomfort can be triggered by sitting or standing for extended periods of time or by repetitive lifting.

Posterior pelvic pain is low back ache that is experienced behind the pelvis, below the waist, and/or across the tailbone or sacrum. It can also be felt in the buttocks, on one or both sides, or in the back of the thighs. You may also have pubic pain. Posterior pelvic pain occurs four times more frequently than lumbar pain during pregnancy.

Posterior pelvic discomfort can be aggravated by bending, twisting, rolling, climbing stairs, and prolonged leaning forward such as occurs when you sit at a computer for extended periods of time.

Posterior pelvic pain is often mistaken as sciatica. When you have sciatica, it causes discomfort not only in the low back, hips, buttocks, and thighs, but also in the legs. With sciatica, the leg pain is generally more severe than the spinal pain, and is accompanied by numbness, tingling, or pin-pricking sensations. This aching and numbness generally radiates all the way into the toes. Numbness may also extend to the groin and genital areas.

Sciatica is generally caused by a herniated or bulging disk.

Your risk of low back pain during pregnancy increases if you have had back aches before becoming pregnant or during a previous pregnancy. You also have an increased risk of prenatal back pain if you are carrying twins or are overweight.

In order to maintain a healthy back during pregnancy, it is essential to engage in a regular exercise regimen. Exercise is essential for controlling and avoiding back pain. When your muscles are weak and inflexible, you are more likely to hurt. Regular exercise will stretch and strengthen your muscles and ligaments to better support your spine and prevent pregnancy back ache from occurring.

Specific exercises to alleviate low back pain during pregnancy include pelvic tilt exercises, Kegel exercises, back stretches, hamstring stretches, chest stretches, and wall squats.

Take extra care to be aware of how you bend and move. That alone can help prevent discomfort before it begins.

Back pain in pregnant women can be frustrating, for sure, but you can find relief. Be sure you are getting adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise, and you will be on the way to eliminating backaches for good.

If your back pain if very intense, is rhythmic and feels like menstrual cramps, or is causing numbness, you should contact your health care provider.

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Orit Cox is a Holistic Health Pracitioner in San Diego, CA. She is a content writer for and author of The Pregnancy Pain Guide, featured at To discover easy-to-implement techniques for relieving back pain from pregnancy, visit

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