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Back Pain During Pregnancy

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Back Pain During Pregnancy

Overview

The size and weight of a growing belly can change your posture and strain your back.

These tips may help your back feel better.

  • Stand with your ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line.

    Try not to arch your back.

  • Try not to stand for too long.

    When you stand, try resting one foot on a small box, yoga block, or stool.

  • Support your back.

    Use a pillow behind your low back when you sit.

  • Sleep on a firm mattress.

    If your mattress is soft, you can try putting plywood under it.

  • Sleep on your left side.

    Use a pillow between your knees.

  • Wear supportive, low-heeled shoes.

    Avoid flat or high-heeled shoes.

  • Try a heating pad or cold pack on your back.

    A warm bath or shower can also feel good.

  • Try a belly band.

    Supporting your belly can take the strain off your back.

  • Talk to your doctor or midwife about your pain.

    They may recommend physical therapy or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

  • Stay active.

    Regular exercise such as swimming, pool exercise, walking, and stretching can help with back pain. Ask your doctor about exercises to stretch, strengthen, and relax your muscles.

  • Avoid heavy lifting.

    Lift only by raising from a squat, keeping your waist and back straight. Avoid stretching to reach something, such as on a high shelf.

When should you call for help?

See your doctor or midwife if you have back pain that gets worse or doesn't go away. It could be a sign of a serious problem, such as a kidney infection or preterm labor.

What are some exercises that can help?

Back press (pregnancy)

slide 1 of 11
slide 1 of 11, Back press (pregnancy),
  1. Stand with your back 10 to 12 inches away from a wall.
  2. Lean into the wall until your back is against it. Press your lower back against the wall by pulling in your stomach muscles.
  3. Slowly slide down until your knees are slightly bent, pressing your lower back against the wall.
  4. Hold for at least 6 seconds, then slide back up the wall.
  5. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Over time, work up to holding this position for as much as 1 minute.

Backward stretch (pregnancy)

slide 2 of 11
slide 2 of 11, Backward stretch (pregnancy),
  1. Start on your hands and knees with your knees 8 to 10 inches apart, hands directly below your shoulders, and arms and back straight.
  2. Keeping your arms straight, slowly lower your buttocks toward your heels and tuck your head toward your knees. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Donkey kick (pregnancy)

slide 3 of 11
slide 3 of 11, Donkey kick (pregnancy),
  1. Start on your hands and knees. Place your hands directly below your shoulders, and keep your arms straight.
  2. Tighten your belly muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine. Keep breathing normally, and don't hold your breath.
  3. Lift one knee and bring it toward your elbow.
  4. Slowly extend that leg behind you without completely straightening it. Be careful not to let your hip drop down. Avoid arching your back.
  5. Hold your leg behind you for about 6 seconds.
  6. Return to your starting position.
  7. Repeat 8 to 12 times for each leg.

Forward bend (pregnancy)

slide 4 of 11
slide 4 of 11, Forward bend (pregnancy),
  1. Sit comfortably in a chair, with your arms relaxed.
  2. Slowly bend forward, allowing your arms to hang down. Lean only as far as you can without feeling discomfort or pressure on your belly.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and then slowly sit up straight.
  4. Repeat 2 to 4 times or to your comfort level.

Hip hinge (pregnancy)

slide 5 of 11
slide 5 of 11, Hip hinge (pregnancy),
  1. Stand with your hands on your hips, feet hip-width apart, and knees slightly bent.
  2. Keeping your upper back straight, bend forward slowly.
  3. Use your back and buttocks muscles to return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Pelvic rocking on hands and knees (pregnancy)

slide 6 of 11
slide 6 of 11, Pelvic rocking on hands and knees (pregnancy),
  1. Start on your hands and knees. Place your wrists directly below your shoulders and your knees below your hips.
  2. Breathe in slowly. Tuck your head downward and round your back up, making a curve with your back in the shape of the letter C. Hold this position for about 6 seconds.
  3. Breathe out slowly and bring your head back up. Relax, keeping your back straight. (Don't allow it to curve toward the floor.) Hold for about 6 seconds.
  4. Repeat 8 to 12 times, gently rocking your pelvis.

Pelvic tilt (pregnancy)

slide 7 of 11
slide 7 of 11, Pelvic tilt (pregnancy),
  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Tighten your belly muscles and buttocks, and press your lower back to the floor. You should feel your hips and pelvis rock back.
  3. Hold for 6 seconds while breathing smoothly, and then relax.
  4. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Do this exercise only during the first 4 months of pregnancy. After this point, lying on your back is not recommended, because it can cause blood flow problems for you and your baby.

Tailor press (pregnancy)

slide 8 of 11
slide 8 of 11, Tailor press (pregnancy),
  1. Sit on the floor, and put the bottoms of your feet together in front of you. Bring your heels as close to your body as you can.
  2. Cup your hands under your knees.
  3. Press your knees toward the floor. At the same time, resist that force by pulling upward with your hands.
  4. Hold for about 6 seconds. Relax.
  5. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Tailor sitting (pregnancy)

slide 9 of 11
slide 9 of 11, Tailor sitting (pregnancy),
  1. Sit on the floor.
  2. Bring your feet close to your body while crossing your ankles.
  3. Keep your back straight. Relax your legs and let your knees drop toward the floor.
  4. Hold this position for as long as you are comfortable.

Toe reach (pregnancy)

slide 10 of 11
slide 10 of 11, Toe reach (pregnancy),
  1. Sit on the floor with your back straight, legs about 12 inches apart, and feet relaxed outward.
  2. Stretch your hands forward toward your right foot, then sit up.
  3. Stretch your hands straight forward, then sit up.
  4. Stretch your hands forward toward your left foot, then sit up.
  5. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Trunk twist (pregnancy)

slide 11 of 11
slide 11 of 11, Trunk twist (pregnancy),
  1. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. If that's not comfortable, you can sit on a folded blanket so your bottom is a few inches off the floor. Or you can sit on a chair with your knees hip-width apart and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Reach your left hand toward your right knee. You can place your right hand at your side for support.
  3. Slowly twist your body (trunk) to your right.
  4. Relax and return to your starting position.
  5. Repeat 2 to 4 times.
  6. Switch your hands and twist to your left.
  7. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Credits

Current as of: July 11, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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