Why Does My Back Hurt During Pregnancy?

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Back pain during pregnancy is definitely painful. It is actually one of the most common complaints women have during the first through third trimester! Many women may get nervous upon feeling their first twinges in their back especially so early on in the pregnancy.  Your pain can travel and it can switch off depending on the weather, the time of day, and even your mood!

However, there are some concrete reasons behind your back pain along with your pregnancy and we will discuss them with you all today.

Above all else, it is important remember that you’re gaining weight, your center of gravity is changing, all the while your hormones are relaxing the ligaments in the joints of your pelvis. It is completely and totally normal to feel pain in areas you haven’t before.

Identifying the kind of pain you are feeling can help isolate the areas affected in addition to assisting your doctor, masseuse, or even partner massage the tightness away. Lumbar pain is when you feel pain in your central back. Posterior pelvic pain is when you feel pain down in your tailbone or hips. Your achy back may even be your first sign of pregnancy- with many women feeling achy even in the first trimester.

But why does your back hurt? Especially if you are only in your first trimester- how does it make sense that a little baby hardly larger than a lima bean causing your back all these aches and pains?

There are many possible reasons why back pain happens. Here are some of the more likely causes:

  1. Weight gain

During a healthy pregnancy women can gain anywhere from 25 to 35 pounds. The additional weight on your spine can cause lower back pain synonymous with pregnancy. However, even if you are newly pregnant the added weight of your growing baby can strain your muscles and throw your back off.  Women who are overweight or have had back pain before becoming pregnancy are at even greater risk of back pain during their pregnancies.

  1. Posture

Pregnancy shifts your center of gravity. As a result, you may gradually begin to adjust your posture and the way you move to accommodate your growing belly. This often results in back pain or strain.

  1. Hormone changes

During pregnancy, a hormone called Progesterone relaxes your pelvic muscles, which can cause your lower back to overcompensate and tighten up. Relaxin also makes your uterus soft and comfy for the baby. It also loosens your pelvic joints and ligaments, which forces your back to do all the heavy lifting. With your body fighting to keep a balance between being as comfortable for the baby as possible and as strong for you, it is hard to keep up without tiring yourself out.

  1. Muscle separation

As the uterus expands, two parallel sheets of muscles (the rectal abdominis muscles), which run from the rib cage to the pubic bone, may separate along the center seam. This muscle separation may worsen back aches and lead to additional pain in your lower back region.

  1. Emotional stress

This one is a big factor for me. I know that whenever I am nervous or anxious about something my lower back tenses up and the next morning it definitely aches. Throw pregnancy into the mix and my back spasms on me when I even think about being nervous about something. It is even more important to remember to keep your mind and emotions at ease during this exciting time!

Shoshi S.
Shoshi is a graduate from Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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