• 07Feb

    How to prevent backache during pregnancy?

    Back pain is one of the most common complaints during pregnancy with a prevalence varying from 48% to 76%. It is often treated as minor and inevitable problem. The pain can be severe and that requires management under medical supervision.

    Causes of backache

    Back pain during pregnancy has multiple causes. Usually it is due to excessive strain over paraspinal or back muscles. During mid-pregnancy and afterwards, the uterus becomes heavier. This shifts the centre of gravity upwards and forwards resulting in a change of posture. Most women lean backwards assuming a posture of lordosis or increased backward curvature of spine.  This posture is maintained by an increased activity of back muscles which develop spasm. 

    There is also some degree of weakness of abdominal muscles as they get overstretched. The hormones of pregnancy also cause the muscles to relax and become loose. This further aggravates the above posture as the balancing effect of abdominal muscles is not there.

    Later in pregnancy the joints of spine and pelvis become lax due to the effect of pregnancy hormones estrogen and relaxin. This results in increased mobility of joints which is further aggravated by the weight of growing fetus as well as maternal weight gain due to an increase in fat deposition. This causes a generalized pain in lower back, buttocks and thighs. There is an increased risk of injury during exercise due to the above changes.


    Performance of regular mild exercises including back muscle exercise helps to strengthen these muscles, improves posture and relieves spasm. These exercises also prepare the patient for labor and child birth. In patients with persistent backache, back brace or maternity sling may be used on doctor’s advice. These appliances support the weight of abdomen and relieve excessive loading of spine. Bed rest, sitting in warm bath and physical therapy also provide relief.

    Recommended exercises for back pain during pregnancy

    • Pelvic tilt exercise: Place a floor mat. Then kneel down on hands and knees. In this position, pelvis is tilted forwards and backwards while keeping the buttocks relaxed.
      Back pain during pregnancy can have multiple causes.

      Back pain during pregnancy can have multiple causes.

    • Back stretch: Come to the above described position on a floor mat in an airy room. The legs should be kept apart and a small pillow should be placed under the abdomen. Then stretch arms forward on the floor to feel the stretch the back.
    • Hamstring Stretch: Place a foot on the chair seat while standing in front of it. Keeping the back straight, gently lean forward to stretch the back of the thigh.


    Preventive steps should be taken to avoid any aggravation of symptoms. One should make an attempt to maintain a normal posture while standing, sitting or walking. Some of the helpful tips are discussed here.

    • Wear loose fitting, low heeled shoes with insole support for the arch.
    • While standing, use a comfortably wide stance for better support and balance.
    • Do not lift heavy objects.
    • Do not stand for a longer period of time.
    • Always sleep on a firm bed. Sleeping on a very soft bed may aggravate backache as it fails to provide support while sleeping.
    • Do not bend over to pick up things from the floor. It is advisable to squat down by bending the knees, while keeping the upper body straight.
    • Sit with back support using a cushion or pillow.
    • Sleep on right or left side with a pillow between legs for support.
    • Regular gentle massage of back muscles is recommended.

     Low backache is a common problem during pregnancy. The symptoms are more severe in poorly nourished patients with weak musculature. One should plan for pregnancy with good nutrition and strengthening exercises before getting pregnant. A regular antenatal check-up with advice on nutrition and regular exercise helps in better pregnancy management.

    Anna L.

    It’s all about health!
    I have academic background in drugs related Chemical Technology, as well as extensive professional experience in pharma and medical companies. My main area of interest is everyday life medicine. The goal of my articles is to give people informative answers to the questions that bother them, to dispel doubts and some common misbeliefs and also to inspire everyone to keep healthy lifestyle.

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