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Back Pain During Pregnancy

As your body changes during pregnancy, your back must work in new ways. This can be painful if your back isn’t prepared. Back pain is due to many causes. Physical changes to your body can strain your back and its supporting muscles. Also, hormones (chemicals that carry messages throughout the body) increase during pregnancy. This can affect how the muscles and joints work together. All of these changes can lead to pain.

Your Back

The spine is the column of bones that runs down your back. It has three curves: the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. These curves support your body and help you keep your balance. Muscles in your back and abdomen (stomach) brace and support the spine. Muscles in your buttocks, pelvis, and thighs work with your spine to let you twist, bend, and lift.

Your Back During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, changes in your body affect your back and posture (how you position your body). Your body’s shape and size change, making your muscles work harder. As the body prepares for childbirth, hormones cause pelvic muscles, ligaments, and joints to loosen. This can lead to pain. These changes may also cause you to use poor posture (positions that strain the spine). Over time, poor posture often results in back pain.

Outline of woman in early pregnancy showing curves of spine: cervical in neck, thoracic in mid-back, and lumbar in lower back. Back, abdominal, pelvic, buttocks, and thigh muscles are shown. Sciatic nerve exits spine in lower back and travels through buttocks and thigh muscles.

Outline of woman in late pregnancy showing changes that affect back. Breasts and uterus grow, adding weight to front of body. Abdominal muscles stretch as baby grows. Nerves may be pressed as baby grows or shifts position. Pelvic ligaments and joints loosen and become strained.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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