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Back pain in pregnancy

Many women experience back pain in pregnancy. Read about the causes of upper and lower backache when you are pregnant and learn self-help techniques here.

Back pain is incredibly common during pregnancy: some studies estimate that around two-thirds of pregnant women suffer from it. The weight of the baby in your abdomen tends to pull your lower spine forward, putting a strain on your lower back, potentially causing backache.

There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from back pain in pregnancy.

  • Keep an eye on your posture: straighten your lower back and gently draw your bump in. Imagine your baby being tucked into the pelvis, close to your centre of gravity.
  • Be sensible about lifting objects: always lift bending your knees rather than your back and try to avoid lifting anything heavy.
  • Wear flat or low-heeled shoes.
  • Sit up straight and with your lower back supported.
  • Use a firm mattress.
  • If you work standing, adjust the work surface to avoid stooping.

Many women find yoga and pilates helpful for back pain as well as physical aids like maternity support belts. Not all of these treatments work for everyone, so try and find one that works for you.

If you are suffering badly, you can also ask your GP or midwife about being referred to a physiotherapist.

Further information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas when you are pregnant and in birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.

NHS choices offers information on back pain when you are pregnant, and general information on backache.