Back pain during pregnancy

Your abdomen grows, your lower back hurts – What to do?

Back pain during pregnancy

Low back pain during pregnancy

"As pregnancy continues, the bodyweight, centre of gravity and statics change. Incorrect weight distribution can lead to back pain in the lumbar spine.

The hormonal change, especially in preparation for birth, also causes loosening of the ligaments that stabilise the pelvis. This can lead to pain in the pubic symphysis (symphyseal pain) as well as to back pain and pelvic instability."

Back pain: a constant companion during pregnancy

Back pain is one of the most common complaints during pregnancy. Pregnancy-related back pain usually peaks between the 24th and 36th week of pregnancy. This is particularly noticeable when getting up, bending forward and dressing or undressing. Low back pain accompanies pregnant women throughout the day – and can even affect their sleep at night. Sitting for long periods is often perceived as unpleasant: expectant mothers should take regular breaks when travelling long distances by car as well as change their sitting posture in the office more often and plan in rest periods.

Back pain during pregnancy should always be checked by a doctor

In case of advanced pregnancy, uterus contractions, urinary tract congestion or pressure from the baby’s head on sensitive nerves can be experienced as back pain. Pregnant women should thus always have their back pain checked by a doctor.

The female anatomy: susceptible to back pain – especially during pregnancy

Women’s body structure makes them more prone to back pain than men. Back problems experienced before pregnancy tend to intensify during pregnancy.

In order to give birth naturally, women are equipped with a longer lumbar region, a wider abdominal cavity and a larger pelvis than men. Alongside hormonal changes during pregnancy, this means additional strain on the lumbar spine. This can lead to pain.

Physical changes during pregnancy that can cause low back pain

  • Hormonal changes: In preparation for birth, hormones ensure that tendons and ligaments in the pelvic area loosen – this applies particularly to the intervertebral discs, sacroiliac joints and pubic symphysis (symphysis loosening). This reduces pelvic and lower back stability.
  • Shift in centre of gravity: The more the child grows, the more the body’s centre of gravity shifts forward. The body’s statics change. Incorrect posture can lead to back pain.
  • Weight gain: Increasing weight during pregnancy puts more strain on bones, joints, muscles and tendons. The statics of the spinal column changes and hollow of the back develops. This puts strain on the back.

What to do against back pain during pregnancy?

  • Pregnancy exercises: Pregnancy exercises, for example, in water, stabilise and strengthen the back and pelvis.
  • Physiotherapy and manual therapies (such as osteopathy): These help alleviate the discomfort.
  • Acupuncture: An experienced therapist knows the location of acupuncture points suitable for treating back pain in pregnant women, including sciatic nerve irritation (“sciatica”). What’s more: Many midwives also offer acupuncture treatments against back pain.
  • Upright posture: Try to maintain an upright posture when carrying out your everyday activities in order to avoid incorrect posture. The latter can both cause and aggravate back pain. A special pillow between the knees can bring relief for side sleepers at night.

Relief and stabilisation thanks to pregnancy belt and pelvic orthosis

Lumbamed maternity

Pelvic instability primarily leads to pain in the pelvic girdle, both ventrally (front) on the symphysis and dorsally (back) on the two SIJ (sacroiliac joints = joints between sacrum and ilium). In some cases, pain in the sacroiliac joints can radiate to the lumbar spine. Patients often perceive iliac crest pain as back pain.

There are special support belts that relieve the lumbar spine, reduce the shift in the centre of gravity due to the growing abdomen and alleviate back pain. The Lumbamed maternity lumbar orthosis is used for pregnant women.

It is important to help the body regenerate well after pregnancy. The Lumbamed sacro pelvic orthosis can stabilise and relieve the pelvis while alleviating pelvic discomfort.

Click here to find an overview of all medi products for pregnant women.

What to do if your back pain persists after pregnancy?

Take back pain seriously in case it persists after birth. Describe your symptoms to your doctor. He or she will advise you on the therapeutic options (which depend on the cause, type and localisation of the pain): these range from wearing a support or orthosis to taking medication or doing physiotherapeutic exercises to taking surgical measures.

Further information about the diagnosis and treatment of back pain, including physio exercises.