Back pain during pregnancy

peas

That extra weight you're carrying to support your little bundle of joy may be making your back feel less than joyous.

Relieve your aches and pains

Pregnant woman exercisingLoosening of the pelvic joints during your pregnancy — not to mention moving, lifting, standing, sitting, or sleeping in an awkward position — can put extra stress on your back while you're pregnant.

Although back pain often improves on its own, there are some safe, easy ways to help you feel better faster.

  • Lie on your left side with your knees bent and a pillow between your legs. (Avoid sleeping on your back after your fourth month.)
  • Change positions every 30 minutes. If you must sit for a long time, take breaks to stand up and walk around frequently.
  • Put cold packs on your back for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, several times a day. (Be sure to use a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.)
  • Soak in a warm (but not hot) bath.
  • It may feel good to take short walks or do gentle stretching. Ask your practitioner about safe, back-strengthening exercises.
  • Swim or wade in a pool. The feeling of weightlessness you'll get in the water can be a welcome break for your back.
  • If you need to pick up something, squat instead of bending over.
  • Ask your practitioner about taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain. Do not take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), or aspirin unless advised by your doctor.

Learn more about back pain and sciatica during pregnancy.

When to call your doctor

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your practitioner if your back doesn't feel better after a week.

Call your practitioner if:

  • you have regular contractions (5 to 6 minutes apart, lasting at least 45 seconds each) or are experiencing preterm labor.
  • you have new pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness, especially in your buttocks, genital or rectal area, legs, or feet.
  • your back pain gets worse or more frequent.

After your baby is born

If you have back pain during pregnancy, it may continue to be a problem after your baby arrives. Learn more about managing chronic pain.

Source: Adapted from copyrighted material of The Permanente Medical Group, Inc.

Reviewed by: Jeff Convissar, MD, November 2015
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

© 2015 Kaiser Permanente

Prenatal programs

Pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and baby-care classes and programs near you.

Manage your pregnancy online

Use kp.org to make appointments, email your doctor, get test results, and more.

Mom-to-be tools