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Backache in pregnancy

2-minute read

During pregnancy, the ligaments in your body naturally become softer and stretch to prepare you for labour. This can put a strain on the joints of your lower back and pelvis, which can cause backache.  The extra weight of your uterus and the increasing size of the hollow in your lower back can also add to the problem.

Avoiding backache in pregnancy

There are several things you can do to help prevent backache from happening, and to help you cope with an aching back if it does occur.

It is important to avoid lifting heavy objects. When lifting or picking up something from the floor, be sure to bend your knees and keep your back straight.

These tips listed here can also help you to protect your back — try to remember them every day:

  • move your feet when turning around to avoid twisting your spine
  • wear flat shoes as these allow your weight to be evenly distributed
  • work at a surface high enough to prevent you stooping
  • try to balance the weight between two bags when carrying shopping
  • sit with your back straight and well supported
  • avoid standing or sitting for long periods
  • make sure you get enough rest, particularly later in pregnancy
  • try to have good posture

A firm mattress can also help to prevent and relieve backache. If your mattress is too soft, put a piece of hardboard under it to make it firmer.

Some other activities that may help ease your back pain include:

  • aqua aerobics (gentle exercise in water)
  • acupuncture
  • massage
  • hot packs
  • regular exercise, including walking

For more information please visit our exercise in pregnancy page.

Exercises to ease backache in pregnancy

The gentle exercises below may help ease backache in pregnancy.

Stretches for lower backache:

  • sit with your bottom on your heels with your knees apart
  • lean forward towards the floor, resting your elbows on the ground in front of you
  • slowly stretch your arms forward
  • hold for a few seconds

Stretches for middle backache:

  • go down on your hands and knees
  • draw in lower tummy
  • tuck your tail under
  • hold for a few seconds
  • gently lower your back down as far as feels comfortable

Stretches for pain in the shoulder blades and upper back:

  • sit on a firm chair
  • brace your tummy muscles
  • interlock your fingers and lift your arms overhead
  • straighten your elbows and turn your palms upwards
  • hold for a few seconds

If back pain persists, changes or becomes severe, see your doctor or midwife for advice. They may advise you to see a physiotherapist. At any stage, if the back pain is associated with any blood loss from the vagina, seek medical advice urgently.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2020


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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

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The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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