Everything You Need to Know About Pregnancy Back Pain

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(Photo: iStock)

While carrying your bundle of joy around for nine months is a welcomed part of motherhood, the back pain complete with stiffness, soreness and ache is definitely something we wish could just vanish in the blink of an eye.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, 50 to 70 percent of pregnant women will experience back pain during the span of nine months, either in spurts or consecutively.

Hailed “everyone’s favorite OB-GYN,” Dr. Angela of AskDrAngela.com shares with Womanista that even though back pain hinders productivity and disrupts your daily routine, there are effective ways to treat the impediment — but it’s important to get to the root of its causes.

Center of gravity
Dr. Angela reveals the most obvious cause of back pain during pregnancy is the mere exaggeration in curvature of the lower back that results from the effect of a growing uterus.

“The growing uterus not only causes a shift in the center of gravity,” she says. “But it forces the lower back to be more ‘stressed’ [or] ‘curved’ than usual, hence a strain on joints, ligaments and muscles, which result in back pain.”

Increase in hormones
As if that wasn’t hard enough, Dr. Angela shares that our body produces hormones during pregnancy that cause joints and ligaments to become much looser as the baby prepares to descend into the pelvis, adding “this can also result in back pain.”

Urinary tract infection
If left untreated, UTI can cause great back pain during pregnancy. A study from the Global Advances in Health and Medicine suggests a UTI can increase the risk for adverse outcomes that endanger both the health of the mother and fetus since the infection can affect any part of the urinary tract, particularly the kidneys.

“An ascending UTI that hasn’t been treated, which subsequently ascends into the kidney is another cause of back pain,” Dr. Angela says. However, she states this is accompanied typically by other UTI-like symptoms including frequency, urgency and pain with urination, along with fever and chills.

Labor pain
Have you ever heard of back labor? Dr. Angela says that sometimes labor pain will present itself as back pain.

“If your back pain is persistent, progressively getting worse or is accompanied by uterine contractions or any sort of vaginal bleeding, I’d let your OB-GYN know straight away,” she warns.

When should we start to worry about back pain during pregnancy?
If back pain during pregnancy is occurring more often than not or getting worse, Dr. Angela says it should raise an eyebrow. While for many people it occurs at the end of a long day and after hours of being on your feet for extended periods of time, this is not much of a concern with regards to pregnancy. If your back pain persists and interferes with the quality of your life, this requires your immediate attention.

“Back pain with related symptoms [like], numbness, tingling in extremities, or shooting pains down your leg would warrant further evaluation,” she says.

What are some effective ways to treat back pain?
There is no single or certain cure for back pain, but Dr. Angela suggests a few ways to ease the discomfort for expectant mothers feeling the pinch. Since sitting for long periods of time can actually exacerbate back pain, she suggests to be on your feet if you can.

Additionally, use a step stool for those hard to reach places in the kitchen to avoid placing any strain on your lower back. Another way to reduce any pressure on your back is to ensure you have proper shoes for support, adding to “avoid high heels” and practice pregnancy yoga or exercise that involve gently stretching.

“While there are certainly more things,” she adds. “An important one to remember is to keep an eye on weight gain — try not to gain more than what is recommended as the added weight may add to your back pain.”

Moreover, avoid lifting heavy objects in an effort to decrease any strain on your lower back muscles.

“Having a pillow for driving or sitting at a table for meals or a desk at work may help take some of the strain [and] stress of your lower back,” she says, adding that trying to maintain good posture throughout can also be of great help.