Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy
Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy

Causes And Treatment Of Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy

Causes And Treatment Of Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy

Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy is normal for most women. About 50% of women will report some form of back pain during the second and third trimester of their pregnancies. The body is going through changes and making several adjustments. When you add the baby’s weight, you will realize the back has more to bear than before.

Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy
Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy

Why Does Your Back Hurt When You Are Pregnant?

Various reasons cause this condition.

  • Weight Gain

Naturally, a pregnant woman will gain between 25 and 35 pounds, which is totally normal. This extra weight puts pressure on the back and tasks the spine more than normal. The baby is growing rapidly at the third trimester, and so it will weigh more. This extra weight from the baby stresses your back muscles and weakens then to a point where there will be pain or discomfort.

  • Loose Ligaments

As the body prepares for delivery, it will start producing a hormone called relaxin. This hormone relaxes the ligaments in the pelvic area so that they are looser and ready to expand for delivery. In this process, relaxin will cause the ligaments that support the spine to relax. This will certainly lead to instability in the spine and back pain.

  • Posture Change

It happens naturally and without noticing, but you will adjust your posture. This is due to the shift in the center of gravity. This posture change will lead to back pain.

Also worth noting is that as the pregnancy advances, the ribcage will have to expand to accommodate the growing uterus. This expansion stretches all the muscles around the upper back and the ribs. The standard setup will be destabilized, and so the back will bear the consequences.

  • Change In Center of Gravity

A lot is happening in your body, and some of it includes weakening of the core muscles. The muscles in the abdomen are primarily responsible for the proper alignment of the upper body. As these muscles prepare to stretch, they will relax, and the lower back muscles will take up the responsibility to ensure proper alignment.

What eventually happens is the lower spine curving inward because of the subsequent weight, and the upper spine curving outward in an attempt to balance the upper body. As the shoulders roll inwards to be in line with the new alignment of the spine, the head juts outward. This posture, known as the swayback, strains the upper back, neck, and shoulders.

How Do You Get Rid Of Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy?

If the pain is unbearable, you may need to consult your doctor. However, you can manage it through these ways.

  • Massages

A massage is the oldest way known to man for treating back pain. It doesn’t need to be sophisticated if you cannot afford a professional masseuse. Your partner can give you a massage right in the comfort of your home.

Recently, chiropractic care is gaining momentum. If the pain becomes too much, you can seek the services of a chiropractor who is knowledgeable in spine alignment. You would need clearance from your doctor before you take that route.

  • Good Ol’ Ice and Heat

Heat and cold method of easing pain have been used for eons, and it has shown good results. However, as much as cryotherapy (ice) and thermotherapy (heating) are minimal risk methods, you should still consult your doctor before use.

Ice eases the pain on the injured part, and so you can start by placing ice wrapped in a cloth or towel on the painful part for 20 minutes at a time. You can repeat this as many times as you need. Two or three days later, switch to heat. Heat therapy is ideal for muscle pain, and it promotes blood flow to the injured part.

For full effect, place a hot water bottle on the injured part for a few minutes a time. You can then switch back to the cold treatment. This therapy will not take the pain away for good, but it will offer relief for some time.

  • Changing Your Posture

Posture has a lot to do with back pain. If you can help it, stop slouching when seated or standing. Stand upright with your shoulder pushed back and chest high. While sitting, choose a seat with good lumbar support and keep your feet on the floor. If you cannot place them on the floor, consider a footstool.

You could be straining your spine while sleeping. It is ideal to sleep on your side especially on your second and third trimester. For a neutral spine, you can try placing a pillow between your legs and under the tummy while you sleep.

What Can You Do For Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy?

Wearing comfortable shoes helps. High heels will naturally strain your back even when you are not pregnant. They will shift you balance so that your back bears all the unnecessary tension.

  • Exercise

Working out not only ease the pain, but it also causes the release of happy hormones that lift your spirit. Regular activities boost flexibility and strengthen muscles. As your core muscles get stretched, they will weaken and eventually be unable to support your back appropriately.

Working the muscles out during pregnancy keeps them strong during the process, and hence the back remains adequately supported. Before you anxiously embark on any form of exercise, it would be best to get clearance from your doctor. You are also safe working out with a trainer who specializes in prenatal workouts.

Additionally, simple exercises such as walking and swimming will relax your body and strengthen your muscles. Yoga is yet another great workout for strength training and relaxation. The stretching is especially good for your posture.

  • Avoid Heavy Lifting

Where possible, avoid lifting heavy objects. If you have to, adopt proper mechanics of doing it, all the while being aware of your back issues. Avoid twisting while bent, and only turn after you have picked the object. Instead of bending your back to pick something up, squat from your knees and reach forth.

  • More Fish Oil In Your Diet

Back pain is usually a result of inflammation. Adding fish oil supplements into your diet will not only ease your back pain but also benefit your unborn baby. Fish oil is loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, which are ideal for preventing and healing inflammation.

  • Invest In A Pregnancy Belt

Pregnancy belts take the pressure off your back by supporting the belly. This helps fix the swayback posture as well as elongate the spine. It takes much of the back pain away and makes it possible to walk and work with minimal discomfort.

  • Reduce The Stress Levels

Interestingly, stress can cause back pain. It happens in the form of back spasms, which present as back pain. When you are emotionally stressed, your back muscles tense and fall prey to injury. The best way to deal with this is by talking it out with a friend or shrink.

What Is Back Labor Pain?

After carrying the baby to term, the time comes to let it out. Most women who have gone through the vaginal birth process say that labor and the actual birthing are the most physically demanding experiences in a  woman’s life.

Back labor is the term given to the intense pain that a woman feels on her lower back during and sometime between contractions. Some women experience slight cramping in the back during labor, while for some the pain and discomfort are extreme.


The pain has various causes. In some cases, this pain is attributed to the position of the head in the abdomen. If the baby is facing mommy’s belly, then its head will apply pressure on the mother’s tailbone. However, that is both the sole cause of back labor pain. Women whose backs hurt during their menstrual periods are more likely to experience back pain during labor regardless of the baby’s position.

How Do You Ease The Pain?

The most effective way is getting on your feet to help shift the baby’s position. Walking, squatting and lunging, or even dancing help move the baby. If the pain is not a result of poor fetal position, the doctor can perform a few therapeutic moves to reduce the discomfort.

Hot and cold therapy applied on the lower back works well, as does hydrotherapy. The doctor can also apply pressure on the back using a water bottle, or a rolling pin. The idea here is to apply pressure on the back without hurting you.

Labor back pain poses no risk to you or the baby unless it as a result of poor fetal position.

Can You Prevent It?

Labor back pain is unforeseeable, but working out during pregnancy helps prevent its onset. Massages and chiropractic care work well too. It is wise to keep asking about the baby’s position on each visit to the doctor, especially as you approach labor.

Stay Active And Seek Help

Women with a previous record of back pain are likely to suffer the same during pregnancy. Seeking help for the pain costs little or nothing, and it will improve your experience. It also helps to stay active before and during pregnancy.

What does it mean for my pregnancy?

There is no specific danger to your baby from upper back pain during pregnancy. The effects are really only, for your own well-being and often your mood. Living in constant pain can be debilitating.

Backaches can be quite common in pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. A headache, muscular pain, and upper back pain during pregnancy will not affect your baby.

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