Many people experience lower back pain at some point in their life; whether it be after picking something up awkwardly, sitting for too long or even during pregnancy. 

Experiencing pain during your pregnancy is not uncommon and can occur for many reasons.

It is not something to be fearful of, and know that there are things that can be done to help prevent or alleviate the pain. 

When Can It Start?

Low back pain can occur at any point in your pregnancy.

Some women experience discomfort or pain early in their first trimester, others may not experience anything until their third trimester and some are fortunate enough to experience no pain at all. 

Experiencing pain early in your pregnancy does not necessarily mean that you will have pain through to the end, especially if you seek advice and treatment from your maternal health physiotherapist early. 

Why Does It Happen?

Do we need to remind you of ALL the changes that occur in your body during pregnancy?! 

Pregnancy brings with it many exciting and wonderful things, and a woman’s body is incredible in ways that it adapts and copes with all the changes that occur. 

Lower back pain can come about due to changes in 

  • posture
  • hormone levels
  • alterations in your centre of gravity 
  • carrying a heavier than normal load at the front of your body. 

During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called Relaxin, which loosens your ligaments in your pelvis to allow for your baby to pass through the birth canal.

This hormone affects ligaments throughout your body, including your lower back, which can cause pain. 

Relaxin can cause you to over-stretch and strain muscles and ligaments easier than before you were pregnant, so care must be taken whenever you are stretching to ensure you do not injure yourself. 

As your baby (and tummy!) grows, you develop a more pronounced lumbar lordosis.

Lumbar lordosis in a NORMAL curvature of your lower back, but this can be a bit more accentuated because of your bump.

This can place extra load through your back and cause pain. 

What Can Be Done To Help Relieve My Low Back Pain?

There are many strategies and techniques that can help reduce and rid you of the pain in your lower back. 

Using a heat bag at home on the area that is sore and achy can help with short term relief, especially after a long day on your feet.

Some light walking can also make things feel better, however be sure to walk on a flat and even surface rather than on the sand at the beach. 

Physiotherapy during pregnancy can provide you with treatment techniques and strategies to help relieve and manage your symptoms. Techniques such as; 

can help reduce your pain in the short term. 

In the longer term, exercises that help stretch and strengthen the muscles in your hips, pelvis and back will help reduce the frequency and severity of your pain as your pregnancy progresses.

How Can I Keep My Back Strong During Pregnancy?

As mentioned above, keeping yourself exercising and active throughout your pregnancy will give you the best chance at reducing any LBP (and other aches and pains that arise!)

Don’t feel like you have to wait until pain arises to do something about it. Consult your physiotherapist early and they can give you exercises to start to help reduce the likelihood of pain beginning. 

Things that you can do to keep yourself fit and strong include;

  • Walking: it does not have to be strenuous, but a light-moderate pace for approx. 30minutes per day
  • If you predominantly sit for work, try and get up out of the chair every hour and walk a lap around your office (or go to the loo or grab a cup of coffee)
  • Try sitting on a fit ball at work
  • Attend a pregnancy specific exercise class 

Stretches For Home

You can also try some of these simple stretching exercises below, which can be done at home in your own time. 

  1. Pelvic Rocks on Fit Ball
  2. Mermaid Stretches 
  3. Rotations on Fit Ball
  4. Cat-Cow stretches on hands and knees

Repeat 10x, 2-3 times per day or as you feel you need them.

Strengthening Exercises For Home

If these feel quite comfortable and you would like to try adding some gentle strength exercises to your daily routine, you can give the below exercises a go.

Take care getting on and off the floor, especially as you get into your third trimester (things get a little harder then!)

  1. Swimming
  2. Leg Lifts
  3. Monster Walks (you can do this without a band too)

Take care to not ‘push’ the stretches and strength exercises to your absolute limit, as this can result in a strain.

Remember, at any time to chat to your Obstetrician and your Physiotherapist who will be able to guide you with any aches or pains you may be experiencing.