wikiHow to Alleviate Back Pain During Pregnancy

Three Methods:Exercising to Relieve Back PainTreating Back PainSupporting Your Back

Back pain and pressure during pregnancy is a very common, and often very uncomfortable, problem. Weight gain, hormonal changes in preparation for childbirth, changes in your posture and how you walk, and stress can all cause back pain ranging from mild to severe.[1] There are many options for relieving this discomfort.

Method 1
Exercising to Relieve Back Pain

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    Exercise regularly. Continuing physical activity during uncomplicated pregnancies has been shown to be beneficial and not risky.[2] However, if your back pain develops late in pregnancy, you should be cautious about easing slowly into new routines.
    • Look for pregnancy-safe ways to strengthen your core, abdominal, and back muscles. Avoid traditional crunches and oblique exercises, which can put pressure on important veins and separate abdominal muscles from each other. Instead, try standing crunches or tucking your tailbone while standing. You may also try getting on your hands and knees and touching alternate elbows with your knees, switching between sides.[3]
    • Walking, swimming, and stationary cycling are particularly safe options for exercise during pregnancy. Ask a doctor or physical therapist for other suggestions.[4]
    • Stand with your back to a wall. Bend your knees and work to straighten your spine.[5]
    • Engaging in high impact exercises prior to pregnancy, such as running and jogging, have been shown to reduce the risk of pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy.[6]
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    Maintain good posture. As your center of gravity shifts forward during pregnancy, you might start to strain muscles in order to avoid falling over. Practicing good posture can shift your center of gravity back and reduce strain.
    • When standing, envision an imaginary cord pulling your body up into perfect alignment from above your head. Use a comfortably wide stance, don’t lock your knees, and rest one foot occasionally on a step stool if you have to stand for a long time.[7]
    • When sitting, sit up straight and don’t slouch your shoulders.[8] Instead, keep your shoulders back and relaxed.
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    Stretch your lower back. Get on your hands and knees and alternate rounding and then flattening your back. Hold each position for several seconds, but be gentle, gradually working up to ten repetitions.[9] This is sometimes called “cat and cow” stretching.
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    Enroll in a prenatal yoga class. In addition to relieving back pain, prenatal yoga can improve sleep, reduce stress, and alleviate other symptoms such as nausea and headaches. It may also strengthen the muscles you will use in childbirth.[10]
    • Always let your yoga instructor know that you are pregnant.
    • You can also do gentle yoga poses at home. However, be sure to avoid poses that involve lying on your stomach, lying on your back after 16 weeks, inversions (going upside-down), strong twists, back bends, holding your breath, or taking short, forceful breaths. If something feels difficult or like a strain, don’t do it.[11]
    • There are many safe poses during pregnancy. These include hip-opening squats (malasana), chair pose (utkatasana), warrior poses I and II (virbhadrasana), tree pose (vrksasana), and legs up the wall pose (viparita karani). [12]
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    Swim or do prenatal water exercises. In addition to being a great workout, water exercise relieves pressure from your back and joints.[13] Since the water supports your weight, even walking or floating in the pool will help relieve the pressure.
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    Squat and lift with your legs when picking something up.[14] Do not bend at your waist or lift with your back muscles. Ask for help if you need it.
    • When carrying bags, try to distribute the weight evenly. Carry a similar amount of weight in each hand.[15]

Method 2
Treating Back Pain

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    Distinguish between normal back pain and early labor. Always call your doctor if you suspect that a symptom may be a sign of labor. A backache that can’t be eased by changing positions or seeking comfort other ways can be a sign of labor.[16] Rhythmic cramping pains may also be a sign of early labor.[17]
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    Use pain medication. You should consult with your doctor about what medications are safe to use. In general, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is usually safe during pregnancy, while aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen are not.[18]
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    Consult an osteopath or chiropractor. An osteopath or chiropractor can assess your back pain and offer therapeutic options or refer you to the right health professional. If you are going to consult one, make sure you go to someone who specializes in pregnancy and has had years of experience in this. You can reach out to the local chiropractic or osteopath society for a referral.
    • In a recent study, it was found that 6.1 % of pregnant women consult an osteopath.[19]
    • A chiropractor and osteopath may perform osteopathic manipulation therapies, and have been shown to be helpful in women with low back pain while pregnant.[20]
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    Try acupuncture.[21] Find a certified acupuncturist with experience in treating pregnant women. Acupuncture has been shown to relieve lower back pain in pregnant women.[22]
    • Ask for recommendations from friends or other medical practitioners when searching for an acupuncturist. Ask a potential acupuncturist about what kind of training and continuing education she receives, what her recommended course of treatment for you is, and whether she can work with your insurance (if applicable). Work with someone who makes you feel comfortable and whose office is convenient.[23][24]
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    Apply a heating pad or ice packs.[25] You may get relief by alternating between ice packs and heat.
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    Get a massage. Ask a loved one to gently rub your back.[26] You may also get a prenatal massage from a trained massage therapist.
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    Seek counseling to deal with stress. Ask your physician, midwife, friends, or faith leader about finding a good counselor. You might need to speak with a few therapists before you find a good match. Ask a potential therapist about their experience treating your issue and about their areas of expertise.[27] You might also find relief from talking about your stress or worries with a trusted friend or relative.[28]

Method 3
Supporting Your Back

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    Wear flat shoes with good arch support.[29] Sensible footwear can help you walk evenly without putting excess pressure or strain on your back. Research has shown that during week 20 and 32 of pregnancy, there is a shift in where the full pressure of the body is distributed over the foot.[30] That’s why it’s important to see a foot specialist to see if an arch support may be useful for you.
    • Avoid high heels as well as shoes that offer little to no support for your arches or ankles, such as flip-flops or “Crocs.” The back of the shoe should be rigid and vertical. Lacing shoes may also provide more support.[31]
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    Use a lumbar support pillow when sitting. You might appreciate having a pillow in the office and another in the car. Elevating your feet on a footstool may also help relieve back pressure while sitting.[32]
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    Sleep on your side using extra pillows.[33] Bend one or both knees. The pillows should be placed strategically to help relieve aches and pains. Use a firm pillow for your head and place another pillow between your legs. Place a small pillow under your abdomen to relieve pelvic and back pressure while you sleep.[34] Some pregnant women find full-length body pillows to provide relief.
    • Be careful when you’re getting in and out of bed to avoid straining your spine.[35]
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    Wear a maternity support belt.[36] Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, these thick elastic bands are worn under the belly cradle and around the hips to support your abdominal muscles. Models are also available with bust and shoulder straps to provide relief for all-over back pain.
    • Support hose might also offer relief.[37]


  • Be sure to discuss your exercise options with your healthcare provider, especially if you are considering new activities that you weren't doing before you became pregnant. Keep in mind that the type and intensity of exercise you can safely engage in may change as your pregnancy progresses.
  • Consult your doctor if you decide to seek chiropractic manipulation to relieve your back pain.[38]


  • Get immediate medical attention if you lose feeling in one or both legs, suddenly feel uncoordinated or weak, or have pain under your ribs.
  • If your back pain is abrupt, severe, caused by trauma, getting progressively worse, or accompanied by fever, contact your health care provider right away.
  • Back pain generally resolves after pregnancy. If you feel that there is no change in your back pain after pregnancy, consult your physician right away.

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Categories: Pregnancy