Lower back pain is common during pregnancy. Changing hormones, extra weight, and a shifting center of gravity can all contribute. Stretching, wearing a support belt, or using hot packs may help.

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Pregnancy can include many joyous moments, like hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time or seeing them on an ultrasound screen. A fair amount of aches and pains can also be involved.

Experts estimate that 50% of people experience lower back pain during their pregnancy or postpartum.

Many individuals experience lower back pain starting in the second trimester.

This lower back pain isn’t usually a major source of concern during pregnancy, but it’s important to notify your doctor or healthcare professional if you believe that you’re going into early labor or if it becomes severe.

Read on for more information about lower back pain in pregnancy and what you can do to feel better.

If you’re experiencing lower back pain during pregnancy, you may try things like:

In some cases, back pain may be due to an infection. If you’re experiencing signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI), like a fever or bloody discharge, it’s important to let your doctor know so they can provide the appropriate medications.

Lower back pain during pregnancy is usually associated with:

  • hormone changes
  • a shifted center of gravity
  • extra weight

During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles stretch and weaken, which can change your posture and put a strain on your back. Pregnancy hormones also relax the ligaments in the joints of the pelvis and may lead to lower back pain.

Lower back pain during pregnancy is extremely common and may not require any further diagnosis.

If your doctor is concerned about your lower back pain or thinks it might not be pregnancy-related, they may consider diagnostic imaging.

Ultrasound and MRI testing are typically safe during pregnancy, but doctors only recommend them if they believe they could answer a medical question or provide a health benefit.

While you may not be able to fully prevent lower back pain during pregnancy, some things you can do to minimize it and increase your comfort include:

  • rucking a small pillow behind your lower back when sitting in a chair
  • avoiding lifting heavy objects
  • choosing shoes with good arch support that aren’t heels
  • balancing weight by carrying shopping bags and other items in both hands
  • focusing on good posture
  • exercising regularly

Standing for a long period of time increased lower back pain for 27.2% of pregnant women in one study. However, over 40% of pregnant women in the study were able to reduce back pain by resting.

While resting throughout the day can help lower back pain, nearly two-thirds of the pregnant women reported that back pain worsened during the night.

Many individuals experience relief in lower back pain shortly after they deliver the baby or within a few months of being postpartum.

Language matters

You’ll notice we use the binary term “women” in this article. While we realize this term may not match your gender experience, this is the term used by the researchers whose data was cited. We try to be as specific as possible when reporting on research participants and clinical findings.

Unfortunately, the studies and surveys referenced in this article didn’t report data for or may not have had participants who are transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or genderless.

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When should I worry about lower back pain in pregnancy?

If back pain is accompanied by a fever, pain during urination, or vaginal bleeding, it’s important to let your doctor know since these can be signs of a UTI. It’s also important to let your doctor know if back pain feels like contractions and is accompanied by other signs of preterm labor.

Can you use a heating pad on your back while pregnant?

Yes, you can use a heating pad on your back while pregnant to help relieve some aches and pains, but avoid placing the heating pad on your abdomen.

Why does my lower back hurt when I’m pregnant and trying to sleep?

Lower back pain may get worse at night because the expanding uterus can put pressure on the vena cava. It may help to sleep on your left side with one or both knees bent. You can place pillows between the knees and below the belly for comfort, too.

Lower back pain is a common pregnancy symptom. It’s typically due to hormonal changes, additional weight, and a changing center of gravity. Stretching, wearing a support belt, and using a heating pad can all help relieve your pain.

Although lower back pain is usually a typical pregnancy symptom, it’s important to let your doctor or midwife know if you believe the pain you’re experiencing is contractions or if you’re showing other signs of labor.

Let your doctor know if your pain is severe.