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What is it? What are the symptoms? What are the treatments?


Backache in pregnancy is one of the most common complaints, affecting around half of all expectant mums. Partly, it's caused by pregnancy hormones, especially relaxin (which, as its name implies, causes ligaments and joints to relax in preparation for your baby to pass down the birth canal) and progesterone.

As your baby grows and your bumps gets bigger, this puts a strain on your back, too, partly because your spine isn't accustomed to carrying the extra weight and partly because your posture is altered – and all of these changes can result in back pain.

Bachache during pregnancy can occur at any time, but is most common in the second and third trimesters as your weight increases and your bump expands. Your growing bump throws your weight distribution out, increasing the curve of your lower back, and you'll push your shoulders back to compensate, which unsurprisingly results in back pain.

What are the symptoms of Backache?

Pregnancy backache symptoms can range from mild to severe pain, and any part of the back can be affected. As pregnancy progresses, the lower back comes under increasing stress, so low back pain is very common.

What are the treatments and remedies of Backache?

There are few medications that are considered safe to take in pregnancy. If the pain is severe and persistent, your doctor might suggest you take paracetamol, which is considered safe, but you should get medical approval before you start taking it. Other than that, there are self-help measures you can try:

  • Try using a lumbar support or a rolled up towel in your lower back when sitting
  • Some mums-to-be find warm baths to be helpful
  • Using a body pillow in bed can make sleeping positions more comfortable
  • Some therapists specialise in pregnancy massage, which can bring temporary relief
  • A TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) machine uses electrical impulses to stimulate the nerves and divert pain messages away from the brain. Some mums swear by them in early labour, too
  • Lying down with a pillow under your bent knees can take the pressure off your lower back, although you should avoid lying on your back after about week 16 as you risk compressing an important blood vessel
  • Swimming is not only good exercise for pregnancy, but the feeling of weightlessness can bring relief from back pain
  • Using a bump support will take some of the strain off your back
  • Acupuncture has helped some mums-to-be
  • Heat can be soothing: a hot-water bottle wrapped in a towel or a heat pad might ease the pain

Can I avoid back pain?

You may not be able to avoid it, but you can reduce the risk by taking good care of your back:

  • Avoid lifting anything heavy, but if you must, bend from the knees keeping your back straight and carry the object close to your body
  • Try wearing low wedge heels rather than high or flat shoes. They help distribute your weight more evenly and can improve posture
  • Do some gentle exercise every day: the fitter and more supple you are, the less you may be affected by back pain

Further help

For health advice and information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the NHS offers call and web services. You can also visit NHS websites for services, health information and health news at nhs.uk 

  • England – call 111 from any landline or mobile phone free of charge, or visit nhs.uk 
  • Scotland – call 111 from any landline or mobile phone free of charge, or visit nhs24.com 
  • Wales – call 0845 4647 , or visit nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk 
  • Northern Ireland – visit hscni.net