Back Pain During Pregnancy

Back Pain During Pregnancy is a Common Complaint

By Dr. Cynthia Horner

Approximately 50% of pregnant women experience back pain. Pregnancy should be a time of  joy and expectation. If you are experiencing back pain the joy of pregnancy is overcast with thoughts of how to get relief. Specific chiropractic adjustments by a chiropractor trained in the care of pregnant women can be the answer for relief of back pain. Knowing what causes back pain during pregnancy can help you avoid it completely or resolve it once it appears. Learning stretching exercises and adapting your postural habits are also helpful in avoiding or resolving back pain.

There are three basic reasons why back pain is common during pregnancy:

1)    Extra Weight– Gaining weight is good for your baby but can stress the muscles, pelvis, vertebrae and discs of your

Stand as if a string is pulling you up from your chest

low back and contribute to low back pain during pregnancy. Not only the weight of your baby but increased amniotic fluid and thickening of your uterus adds weight to your abdominal and pelvic area especially throughout the third trimester. Weight gain in the front of your body exerts a downward and forward pull on spine that can create back pain during pregnancy. Muscles overwork to literally balance the newly expanded belly over your pelvis and hips.

2)    A Change In Your Center of Gravity– As your baby grows your center of gravity shifts from the center of your body between your hips and belly button forward and downward to a spot at the front of your body. Your body adapts by adjusting your posture to lean back overusing and straining low back muscles and creating imbalances in spinal bio-mechanics. This sets the stage for low back and neck pain. This spinal imbalance  is further complicated by an over stretched iliopsoas muscle.

The psoas as seen from the front of your body


Iliopsoas, called psoas for short, is a deep core muscle that travels from the vertebrae of the low back to the inside of the thigh. It flexes or bends you at your front pockets. When it is tight it flattens your low back and pulls you into a  forward lean. Your gait or walking posture changes because you can not shift your weight and pull your back leg forward without turning your foot outward. I have found teaching pregnant moms how to stretch their iliopsoas muscles helps tremendously in maintaining stability and relieving back pain during pregnancy.

3)    Hormone Changes – A hormone called relaxin is first produced in your body in your 2nd trimester and increases in your 3rd trimester. This hormone relaxes all connective tissue in your body allowing the stomach muscle to stretch during pregnancy and the ligaments of the pelvis to give for delivery. Extra weight, change in center of gravity and relaxed ligaments all contribute to instability of the pelvis and low back.

Chiropractic care by a chiropractor trained in the management and care of pregnant women at the time these ligaments are relaxed allows easy correction of misalignments in the pelvis and spine. I advise sitting without crossing your legs and sleeping with a pillow between your legs.  Doing your best not to pick up heavy items such as your toddler will help eliminate strain to the softened ligaments. Staying active keeps muscles toned so they can assist the relaxed ligaments in keeping your spine and pelvis stable and should help alleviate your back pain during  pregnancy.

Contact me to receive a handout of pregnancy back pain exercises at no charge.

Also helpful click here for pregnancy exercise from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.


What my patients have taught me: “If you’re in pain trust that there is a healthy way to find relief”

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